Who Should Get My Vote for Congress?

I live in the Third Congressional District. Neither of the major party candidates has convinced me that he deserves my vote.

On the Republican side, we have incumbent Congressman Tom MacArthur. The wealthiest member of the New Jersey delegation (MacArthur pushed Rodney Frelinghuysen out of that slot two years ago), MacArthur is a doctrinaire member of the GOP who supports Donald Trump (and by extension, the Trump agenda). He’s not an unpleasant man – in another world, he could easily be among my several Republican friends. But his voting record is such that I could never support him.

On the Democratic side, we have perennial candidate Frederick John LaVergne. Two years ago, he ran against the Democratic party’s nominee as a third party candidate. His poorly-funded campaign is no match to MacArthur’s millions. The policies he espouses on his web site are hardly specific. His support from the party establishment is minimal. (How he got the nomination is a story for another time.)

So my only other option is a write-in. Whose name should I choose?

There are several excellent Democrats in the area. The only disqualifier in my mind is someone who lives outside the District. Although it is perfectly legal to elect someone who lives outside the District (for example, MacArthur), the local Democrats have been burned by this issue too many times (Carl Lewis when he ran for NJ Senate, and Shelley Adler when she ran for Congress come to mind). So my arbitrary rule eliminates several great contenders: Assemblyman Troy Singleton, who represents much of the legislative district, but lives outside the congressional district. Jim Keady, who lost the primary to LaVergne. Steve Steglik and Raj Bath – chair and vice-chair of the Burlington County Young Democrats who are up-and-coming forces in local politics.

So here are some names that come to mind. I suspect some of them might opt out of a real Congressional race, but it’s fun to speculate.

Belgards

Belgards

Aimee Belgard. The Democratic candidate from two years ago would make a great congresswoman. Smart, hard-working, and progressive, she would be my first choice. But fortunately for her, Chris Christie appointed her to a Superior Court judgeship in Burlington County, where she is enjoying her time immensely. The youngest judge in the county, she’s sure to rise in the judiciary over the next several years – perhaps to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Bill Belgard. Aimee’s husband is a force in his own right, Bill is a local municipal elected official who would also advance a progressive agenda. And his Old Man’s Garage Band would bring some great music to Capitol Hill.

Douglas

Douglas

Andy Douglas. The Mount Laurel municipal chair, in his 70s, has more energy than many of the 20-somethings I see going door-to-door on the campaign trail. A retired union official, he would be very good for labor in Washington.

Conaway

Conaway

Herb Conaway. The doctor/lawyer/assemblyman has run for Congress before. One of the smartest members of the state assembly, he would be successful in reaching across the aisle to get things done, especially in the critical areas of health care and the environment.

Bendar

Bendar

Barry Bendar. The Ocean County database professional primaried John Adler from the left in 2010. He got 25% of the vote with minimal campaigning and would be a great counterpoint to MacArthur.

Beckett

Beckett

Hilary Beckett. Why not vote for two Hillary/Hilarys this time? Assemblyman Singleton’s chief of staff just turned 25, the minimum age to serve in the House (she’s older than Joe Biden was when he was first elected), is an up-and-coming star in Burlington County politics and works just as hard as her boss.

Earp

Earp

Wyatt Earp. I don’t know much about the Ocean County Democratic chair – I’ve only met him a couple of times. But the sound of Congressman Wyatt Earp has a nice ring to it.

So who should it be? Who have I left out? Take the informal poll below, and let me know who you think I should write in.

 

 

[poll id=”452″]

Comments (11)

  1. Tara Malanga

    Write in Michael Miller. Bernie Sanders vetted Candidate for Freeholder in 2016. He lost to Reva Foster but is now working closely with Raj Bath and Stephen Steglik on the Board of Executives as the Grassroots Coordinator for BCYD. I may be biased because he is my husband but in less than 60 days managed to garner 11.2k votes and has a very progressive agenda and has been very successful in the public and private spheres. His goal is to run for Freeholder in 2017 and potentially Congress in 2018 as well.

    Reply
  2. Bertin Lefkovic

    Jim Keady should have been the Democratic nominee in CD3, but because the same Democratic primary election voters in Burlington County, where most of the district’s registered Democrats can be found, who blindly voted for Hillary Clinton, voted the party line instead of learning about the candidates and making an educated choice, this gadfly LaVergne, who won the BCDC’s endorsement before Keady entered the race, got the bulk of the votes out of the county. If Keady was the nominee, he would be making this a much more competitive race right now.

    Reply
    1. deciminyan (Post author)

      Agreed. If Joanne Schwartz had not been ill and had been able to attend the BurlCo meeting where the endorsement had taken place in order to make her case, she would be the standard bearer for the party. I don’t think she could have defeated MacArthur, but at least the party would not have embarrassed itself. (Disclosure: I am a committee member and voted for Schwartz).

      Reply
  3. Scott Neuman

    Or we could just vote for LaVergne and flip the district.

    Reply
  4. Ken Bank

    I agree Fred has no chance to win, especially with reporters in bed with TMac slinging mud at the guy in exchange for a future job in public or press relations, like this hit piece: http://www.app.com/story/news/politics/2016/09/25/legal-troubles-haunt-congressional-candidate/90966508/

    However, I met Fred recently at a candidate’s event in Ocean County and was most impressed. The Wiz, Joe Cryan, other candidates gave speeches but Fred’s was the best. Unlike all the other candidates, he never spoke about himself, but focused specifically on the issues that matter most to the voters in CD3; veterans, social security, environment, health care, and jobs/infrastructure. On all these issues Fred represents not only mainstream Democrats but many independents and even a few Republicans as well. I’ll grant you that Fred is not a progressive, but no progressive can win this district on issues that matter to progressives. It is a Republican-leaning district, and the only reason John Adler won is because he ran as a centrist and Republicans were badly divided.
    Amy Belgard spent millions of dollars and lost badly because she campaigned on issues that mattered most to progressives rather than focus on issues that mattered most to the majority of voters.

    I admit Fred is a flawed candidate, but his message is not. Don’t shoot the message because you don’t like the messenger. I suggest you read it again from his website, like I said it was more specific and relevant to the needs of the district than any of the other speeches I heard: http://www.fredlavergne.com/

    Reply
    1. deciminyan (Post author)

      LaVergne can prove me wrong by agreeing to an interview on Blue Jersey. We’ve done interviews with three Democratic congressional candidates in South Jersey, but LaVergne has consistently turned us down, claiming he would not get a fair shake. The offer is still open.

      Reply
      1. ken bank

        I posted a comment on Facebook about your offer to interview Fred, and the only response I got was from his attack dog that you would do a hatchet job, which is ridiculous and unworthy of someone seeking political office. I replied that if Fred can’t take the heat he should get out of the kitchen. He has the right message, but he’s the wrong candidate and I’m done with him. He has no money, no support (other than his attack dog and a handful of others), and even Democrats don’t like him. He has no chance and I’m not wasting my vote on him. I’ll write-in Herb Conaway, if he gets enough write-in votes maybe he’ll consider running for Congress in 2018 or 2020.

        Reply
        1. Fred LaVergne

          Ken – Thank you for the kind words in the earlier post. Steve Stern (Deciminyan), has never dealt honestly with me from the first time I met him in the Bordentown Library in 2013. He is still nursing a grudge because I ran as an independent in 2012/2014 “against Aimee”. I did so so as not to be beholden to the George Norcross Machine, and specifically made an effort not to undermine the Democrat nominee. I am a lifelong Democrat, having registered in 1980 in West Long Branch at my majority. Our family has given thousands and thousands of dollars to Democrat candidates over the years, and thousands of dollars in in-kind contributions, as well as thousands of hours of our time.
          Mr. Stern invested a great deal of time on the Aimee Belgard campaign, and still blames ME for her loss to MacArthur. He has made no bones about this to anyone who will listen, and has actively spoken out against me even after the primary, while begging others to rally around the nominees above and below me on the ballot. I didn’t do a video with him – did you see the abomination he did to Michael Cooke? He made Cooke look ridiculous. We had sufficient support at the Convention on March 3rd in Burlington, and continue to have, sufficient support to win this race. Ken – You are absolutely right about the media, as way more than half of what they’ve published has been outright lies, and what we’ve dealt with in targeting by the establishment from BOTH parties has been unconscionable. Meanwhile, this race is not about me – it’s about delivering OUR message, and OUR LEGISLATION, to the floor of the HOUSE for consideration and passage. The corrupt conduct of the Ocean County Convention on 3/19 remains an utter embarrassment to the Democratic Organization in NJ, and the short shrift given to Lorna Phillipson, Dave Cole, and myself in surrender and deference to the wishes of the unelected South Jersey boss reflects poorly on the State Committee Leadership.

          Ken – IF we are to take control of CD3 for the Democrat rank and file, we have to step outside the norm. You’ve seen that. I have asked Scott to reach out to you – yes, he is loyal – we are friends for nearly three decades, and have worked hard together for change in our District. You will find him to be extraordinarily well-informed, and a true friend to those fortunate enough to know him. I am sorry we missed the chance to talk more in Stafford, but I am in all 53 of the towns in the district at least once each week – having traveled 16,000 miles within the borders since August 1st. The press will do what they will – when you see the video about the APP review and my opponent’s utter incompetence in re the TPP, for example – not the APP’s video, but the follow-up with the Constitution Party Candidate and myself this weekend – you will again agree that we have a clear choice in this election. Mr. Stern, you shook my hand one night and blasted me the next day from behind your anonymous pen-name for not accepting you as a volunteer. I DON’T TRUST YOU. Trust, and respect, are earned, not given…and you hide behind a nom-de-plume rather than man up and say who you are. Vote for whom you will. The plurality of CD3 voters clearly see the danger of Donald Trump and Michael Pence, and the environmental and social train-wreck of our present seat-polishing incumbent. They also understand the corruption we’re all fighting at the County level. I really believe you understand that undermining my campaign potentially undermines theirs, but you simply don’t care…You would rather see all fail so you can say “I told you so.” We won the primary. get over it – and it wasn’t only the BurlCo line that gave us that result. IN fact, if you remove the bogus mail-ins from Ocean County, we defeated “your guy” by more votes than AIMEE GOT in the 2014 primary, when she faced Bruce Todd and Howard Kleinhendler. If my primary opponent was the best the machine had to offer to try and stop us, then you need a better machine. We’re building one for you. We have ONE candidate in Mount Laurel for Twp Committee because, on your watch, two placeholders filled two of three possible seats – then quit when you failed to find replacements for them, leaving the third high and dry. Mount Laurel voters need to learn what “bullet voting” means, and insure the election of Kareem Pritchett. Our team will be phone banking for him on “Mount Laurel Day” at our office. Each community with candidates on the ballot is assigned a target “day” – a job made significantly easier this year with weak leadership in Ocean County leaving dozens of seats unchallenged with Democrat Candidates. Our organization should be able to expect the support of our County Committee, having won the nomination. We can hardly expect the Sanders supporters to come back under the tent while you’re playing silly buggers. I went out and made sure that happened. By the way, MOST of the people you mentioned affirmatively support me.

          Ken – reach out, as I will be your representative. You have my ear. Would I interview with BlueJersey? Yes – but not with “Deciminyan”. Let’s save it for after the election, though…so we can share how we won.

          Reply
  5. ken bank

    I’m writing in Herb Conaway for Congress, but for Ocean County Sheriff I’m writing in Wyatt Earp, Chairman of the Ocean County Democrats.
    https://www.facebook.com/wyattearp4oceancountysheriff/
    The official Democratic nominee is totally unqualified, even worse than Fred LaVergne. At least Fred had the right message. The Democrat for Sheriff has no background or experience in law enforcement and sounds like a law-and-order Republican who wants to militarize the sheriff’s office and expand the war on drugs by putting more people in jail. His only experience was serving the military in Iraq, and his current job is public information officer for the Ocean County Library, a taxpayer-funded patronage job which he doubtlessly got through some connection with George Gilmore’s GOP political machine.

    Reply
  6. deciminyan (Post author)

    As you are probably aware, comments to this blog are moderated. Above is a lengthy comment from Fred LaVergne regarding my post. I have no intention of trashing it (which is within my permissions on this blog), but rather I’ll let the comment speak for itself.

    Reply
    1. deciminyan (Post author)

      One more thing without talking about Mr. LaVergne. I have written some pretty scathing criticism of his opponent, Mr. MacArthur. But MacArthur had the decency to call me, spend time on the phone listening to my points, and we agreed to disagree. He gave me his personal cell number to call if I have any other issues. I would never vote for him, but it’s interesting to compare the reactions of the two men to my criticisms.

      Reply

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