It’s probably safe to say that, on the issues, Governor-elect Phil Murphy ran the most progressive campaign New Jersey has ever seen.
All of a sudden, the dialogue shifts to changing corporate welfare, to having the wealthiest residents pay their fair share of taxes, to gun control, to sanctuary cities, to climate change, to civil rights, to a state bank, to transportation, to public education, and to so much more.
Whether he delivers on those campaign issues is one thing, but it’s nevertheless amazing how far we’ve come since 2013 when state Democrats basically endorsed arguably the worst, most conservative governor New Jersey has ever seen.
It’s too bad we didn’t start having a discussion on these critical issues in 2013, when a possible Democratic governor, Barbara Buono, would have enjoyed a working relationship with a Democratic president, Barack Obama.
Now a Murphy administration has a MAJOR added burden of pushing back against a despotic Trump administration. That’s a righteous endeavor for sure, but it’s going to cost time, resources, and money.
It didn’t have to be this way if the Democratic Party were out in front. Actually, that’s too mild. It didn’t have to be this way if the state party apparatus didn’t provide a de facto endorsement of Chris Christie, abandoning every, single issue that is important to Democratic voters.
Now, Chris Christie may well have won in 2013. Who knows, but look what happens when the party doesn’t back the nominee:
Christie: 1,278,932 votes (60.3 percent)
Buono: 809,978 votes (38.2 percent)
Total votes: 2,088,910
And look what happens when it does:
Murphy: 1,158,974 votes (55.6 percent)
Guadagno: 882,669 votes (42.34 percent)
Total votes: 2,019,665
Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by about 880,000, but only 2,019,665 votes were cast on Tuesday out of a possible 5,754,862 registered voters, according to NJ.com. I can’t assume why. Perhaps there are fewer registered voters since New Jersey’s only growing constituency—the one that kept us from losing population—is composed of new immigrants.
Yes, perhaps it’s alienated voters, but it doesn’t appear third parties played any meaningful factor in this year’s outcome, particularly with the Green Party, which didn’t capture any of the progressive energy on the left:
Third parties in 2013:
Libertarian Party: 12,155
Green Party: 8,295
Glass-Steagall Now Party: 3,360
Peace and Freedom Party: 3,300
NSA Did 911 Party: 2,062
Third parties in 2017:
Gina Genovese, Independent: 11,922
Peter Rohrman, Libertarian: 10,322
Seth Kaper-Dale, Green: 9,788
Matthew Riccardi: Constitution Party: 6,721
Vincent Ross: We the People Party: 4,833
Bottom line: Democrats can win here on a very progressive message… if they want to. Here are a few pointers to our party leaders moving forward:
- Please stop with the transactional politics.
- Never, ever, ever again endorse a Republican.
- Never again betray the party voters who absolutely dwarf the numbers of the opposing party.
- Deal with the only politics that anyone cares about—real issues facing real, live people.
- A progressive agenda does all that.