Less than an hour after the Kumbaya first meeting of the NJ Delegation to the Democratic Convention, the pretty speeches about unity, and State Chair John Currie’s flattering words for Bernie Sanders’ NJ chair John Wisniewski, Wisniewski was summarily removed as a Jersey member of the DNC. This was by vote of the state committee, which met as soon as the delegates left the room; one meeting over, the next beginning.
Hard not to see that as an insult to every Sanders member of the NJ Delegation to see our campaign chair treated so disrespectfully – particularly after all the pretty reminders that despite all differences we come together as Democrats.
It’s the Hillary campaign’s responsibility at this point to bring along Sanders voters, convince them there are reasons to support her, assuming her win at convention. This campaign has been marked by credible charges that the DNC – and Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz – have not been evenhanded in their treatment of their candidates, and that the party’s establishment pre-selected Clinton and delivered us the candidate every poll says is weaker against Trump than Sanders is. Reasonable people can argue the merits of those charges. But it does not bode well in New Jersey that as soon as the Sanders campaign leader’s back was turned, the party he once ran as State Chair played politics and demoted him. And it doesn’t make the NJ Hillary campaign look good, either.
I just talked to Wisniewski; here’s what he said:
I was surprised the Chairman did not say a word to me in advance. I had asked him for reappointment. The ED [meaning NJDSC exec. dir. Chris James] assured me that this was not on the Agenda for today’s meeting.
This is your Democratic State Committee, Blue Jerseyans. Step out of line, lead the effort for the primary candidate you believe in, challenge party orthodoxy, and it doesn’t matter how long your service to the party might be, or what you’ve done to move New Jersey forward – you get punished. If Wiz and Erdos had to go – and I’m not convinced – the considerate thing would have been to tell them, and make it clear to the state committee members. The way it was done seems graceless, and unnecessarily disrespectful.
I am one of the delegates for Bernie Sanders; there are 50 of us; Wisniewski’s our leader. He was lauded by Currie at the delegate meeting this morning, and given time to speak. When he told us all that Bernie’s campaign proved that campaign finance reform is possible, and the grassroots do matter, there was applause.
But today’s vote – throwing off the DNC both members who backed Sanders without even telling them – suggests the party does not want us, does not welcome the young voters Bernie Sanders energized here, and can call itself “progressive” and “grassroots” and then 15 minutes later act like a cynical, self-protective political machine.
Wisniewski was already out of the room and out of the building when the state committee voted; so was Erdos. When they left at the end of the delegates meeting, everything was peaches and cream. And I’m told by at least one state committee member that the names they voted on for DNC – by voice acclamation – were not provided before the vote. She found out Wisniewski and Erdos were dropped only when she left the room; the meeting over, vote done. And she felt completely blindsided.
This was minutes after Wisniewski had seconded the nomination of Currie to chair the NJ Delegation, and minutes after Currie named Wisniewski as an honorary co-chair of our delegation.
Wisniewski is a former state Democratic Chair. Deputy Speaker of the NJ Assembly. Chair of the Assembly’s Transportation Committee. Delegation leader of the 50 delegates elected to represent Bernie Sanders in Philadelphia. Co-leader (with Sen. Loretta Weinberg) of the NJ Legislature’s investigation of the Bridgegate affair. He and Erdos, a former Director of the NJ. Division of Consumer Affairs, remain as DNC members through the July convention.
This is your state Democratic Party, Blue Jerseyans.