Two cents about CD1 in New Jersey

Yesterday, an article was published here on Blue Jersey which contained two main arguments, both of which criticized Alex Law. Law is a Democratic congressional candidate in New Jersey’s first district, and he is challenging incumbent Congressman Donald Norcross in the June 7th primary.

The first argument is something of which we should explore more deeply. The author, WJCaruso, states that Law undermined the Bernie Sanders campaign in New Jersey by challenging the candidacy of two Camden County Freeholder candidates who were slated as Sanders candidates. WJCaruso alleges that Law “bullied” candidates from the ballot for his own benefit. That’s not exactly true, and the author even proves the falsehood of bullying within their own article by quoting Law to say, ““[E]ssentially, Tony and another gentleman were going to be running under another Bernie slate and we talked to them about the very simple idea that they’re hurting progressives by doing that,” Law said in a phone interview. “The other gentleman did drop out.”

That is not bullying. Challenging a petition is simply a part of running for office. Besides, Camden County’s Freeholder ballot was, and is, perhaps, overpopulated with slates challenging the incumbent candidates, with five total sets of Democratic candidates. The argument that Law makes is similar to one we hear from Senator Sanders quite regularly. By coming together, there is a better chance of defeating the incumbent candidates, which were not and are not associated with the Bernie Sanders Campaign, which seems to be the source of WJCaruso’s criticism. The incumbent Freeholder candidates are slated on the same ticket as Rep. Norcross. This issue is much more complex than meets the eye, and the author does hint towards a good point we all should be paying more attention to.

The New Jersey ballot system is confusing, complex, and even presidential candidates need to run slates with Freeholders in order to get a shot at a fair position on the ticket. What the author does not seem to realize, is that Law was trying to do exactly that for himself in order to have the best shot at unseating Rep. Norcross. It should not have to be this way, just to be visible on the ballot, but it is.

The second part of the article really does need to be addressed, because from my standpoint, it seems as though there is some missing information, and some untrue information. In the article, WJCaruso alleges that Law is avidly trying to “embarrass” Senator Sanders by creating an online petition. The author fails to successfully connect the online petition, which can be viewed here, to the inaccurate depiction of a Sanders endorsement of Rep. Norcross.

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On a mailed piece of literature produced by the Donald Norcross for Congress campaign, language exists that claims Norcross has been endorsed by both the Clinton and the Sanders campaigns, making no reference to the NJ Chairman of the Sanders Campaign.

As Law points out within his petition, that is factually untrue for the very reasons that WJCaruso elucidates in their own article. WJCaruso writes, “The campaign team in Vermont [The Sanders Campaign], not NJ, made a decision to NOT bracket with congressional candidates throughout the state” and “The Chairman of Senator Sanders campaign in NJ endorsed Mr. Law’s opponent over a month ago”.

An endorsement from the state chairman of the campaign is very different from actually being endorsed by the Sanders campaign itself. As PolitickerNJ points out, the NJ Chair of the Sanders Campaign, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, did not mention Sanders’ name once while endorsing Norcross at the podium of his congressional campaign’s kick-off event, and is even quoted to say that, “…I personally endorse Donald Norcross…”, despite insisting that Norcross’ campaign flyer is accurate to say that the Sanders Campaign endorses Norcross. That simply does not make sense, and it cannot be a personal endorsement, yet one that embodies an entire campaign at the same time without having a tinge of internal oligarchy.

By challenging this issue of who has actually officially endorsed who, Law is doing a great job of protecting the integrity of the Sanders Campaign by launching the petition criticized in the article. When we look to Congressman Norcross’ voting record, we see why it is difficult to believe that the national Sanders Campaign endorsed him.

Congressman Norcross voted in favor of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which Senator Sanders voted against. Senator Sanders has even made his own petition on his presidential campaign’s website to oppose the pipeline, citing increased hazards to the environment should that have become a reality.

Congressman Norcross also opposed the Iran Deal, which Senator Sanders supported, and again, has made this issue a key point of his presidential campaign’s website.

Congressman Norcross also voted against the Syrian Refugee bill, which, you guessed right, Senator Sanders voted in support of, and he also created a petition of support on his presidential campaign’s website.

Ballotpedia even confirms Congressman Norcross to have voted with republicans more than any other house Democrat from New Jersey. Why would Senator Sanders want his campaign to be aligned with this record?

As WJCaruso states in their article, Blue Jersey is a place that rejects misrepresentations of facts as they occur, and I hope that I have respectfully done just that today. Sometimes, I make phone calls for Law’s campaign, because as WJCaruso may agree, it really is exciting to participate in our democracy during such a dramatically different election year than normal. I encourage everyone to participate in their democracy however they may see fit, and it is wonderful that we have a safe space such a Blue Jersey to help facilitate such activity.

Comment (1)

  1. WJCaruso

    Hi Brian,
    My apologies for the delay in responding but despite the weather, we had a full weekend of soccer and little league. You make very good points. However, I think we are arguing different issues. My point in my post was about Alex Law and his negative impact on Bernie Sanders campaign. It also spoke to a larger point about Alex Law’s candidacy. I did not seek to defend the candidacy of Alex Law’s opponent. Donald Norcross doesn’t need my help for that.

    I used the term bullied because that is what it was. Yes Alex had the legal right to bounce those candidates from the ballot but that doesn’t make it morally correct. I know this because I had a similar opportunity early in my career.

    When I presented my former boss with the option of invalidating an opponent’s petitions he became upset with me. He lectured me on how our opponent had probably asked friends and family to sign his petition and how petty it would be for us to seek to invalidate them. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. But, even if I agree with you that it was a fair campaign tactic, it is without dispute that this was in no way helpful to the Sanders campaign. The fact that Alex Law refuses to admit that fact and continues to mislead his supporters is troubling to me.

    This new effort is a further waste of time. The contest of who is a bigger Bernie supporter is silly and irrelevant. My goal is to go out and get as many votes as I can for Bernie Sanders in the next few weeks that we have left, not petition signatures for some vanity exercise for Alex Law. And while it may or may not help Alex Law’s campaign, it serves absolutely no purpose in getting Bernie Sanders elected. And, perhaps that sums up my point: I am working to get Bernie Sanders elected. You disclosed in your post that you are working to get Alex Law elected. We have different goals. They could have overlapped but Alex Law chose to put his campaign above Senator Sanders. That is his right. But, he should admit it.


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