By all accounts, the 2016 election was a disaster. Somehow, we elected the world’s best scam artist to become the leader of the free world. And locally, in New Jersey’s Third Congressional District, neither party put up a candidate that I could support
Knowing that Congressman Tom MacArthur would win in a landslide against an unfunded opponent, I decided that writing in another name would not be throwing away my vote. So I did.
I wrote in the name of Dr. Herb Conaway – a practicing physician who is also a long-time member of the General Assembly. While not even remotely expecting him to win, I felt it was a “thank you” to him for the work he’s done for the people of New Jersey, especially as Chairman of the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. While he’s not a solid vote for progressive legislation (he voted with the Norcross machine to cut state workers’ pensions), he’s smart, honest, and a true public servant.
But curiosity got the best of me. I wondered how many other write-in votes there were for Conaway. And how many other voters were disillusioned by the Sophie’s Choice that was presented on the congressional ballot.
I requested results from the Burlington County Board of Elections, even though the district also spans Ocean County. Conaway is virtually unknown in Ocean, and I suspect he did not get any write-ins there.
There were 32 write-ins for the Congressional race in Burlington County. Conaway had to share first place (with 4 votes) with another person whom I admire – John Oliver. They were followed closely by Jim Keady with three write-ins. (Keady was endorsed by the Ocean County Democrats but entered the race too late to be considered by Burlington.) Even former congressional candidates Rich Sexton and Aimee Belgard received one vote each, as did Aimee’s husband, Edgewater Park Councilman Bill Belgard. Most of the other nineteen names receiving write-in votes included Odd-Job, Dracula, Joe Biden, Mickey Mouse, and Gas Tax.
I’ll admit that all of this is meaningless, but with the exception of John Adler’s single term, this district has failed to elect a Democrat since 1990. Assuming a Trumpian America survives to the 2018 elections, the two Democratic county committees need to find and cultivate a formidable challenger to Trump sycophant MacArthur in two years.