10 Years Ago Tonight: When we made NJ relevant – with the New Jersey Democratic Presidential Caucus

Ten years ago tonight, we did something incredibly fun. New Jersey’s presidential primary is always so late that we don’t matter. So to fix that, on Dec. 7, 2007, we launched the New Jersey Democratic Presidential Caucus. It didn’t count. But it fired up the Democrats.

Below, two videos of the Caucus; first video by Jay Treble, then NBC4’s news coverage, which also made NBC News national news. At Blue Jersey’s Facebook, I’’ll tag a bunch of Blue Jersey readers and politicos whose faces I see in the videos!

We weren’t sure an unofficial caucus would fly. We lined up every major progressive organization we could think of to co-sponsor (list below), but people were slow to grab the idea. Until, 48 hours before, when one after another the big names signed up to surrogate for Barack Obama, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, and all the rest. More than 200 showed up to vote, with another hundred or so observers, press, presenters, and out-of-staters (not permitted to vote).

Blue Jersey & DFA-NJ’s Jeff Gardner in his Howard Dean Iowa Caucus orange cap

Jeff Gardner, then co-host of Blue Jersey Radio, read the rules, wearing his orange ski cap from Howard Dean’s 2004 Iowa Caucus. John Bartlett, now a CD11 candidate for Congress and a Freeholder, did the official count. I was Logistics. Assembly members Joe Cryan and Linda Stender were the greeters. There were precinct captains, campaign gear, banners, press, candidate videos playing in all corners of the room. At times, it was controlled pandemonium. The Obama group, a close second was the most organized, the most fun. Fired up? FIRED UP. Ready to go? READY TO GO.

Bonnie Watson Coleman for Hillary. Dick Codey for Edwards. Rep. Steve Rothman for Obama. Ten bucks got you in the door; you got great Italian food and one vote. Iowa rules. Candidates (surrogates) spoke, then everybody voted with their feet, marching noisily to their person’s corner, to be counted. And recounted in the next round as voters for candidates who couldn’t make the 15% threshold to the next round were lobbied – hard – by successful campaigns. Shift. Move. Count again.

To win the caucus, you had to generate enough support to survive elimination at each round –  just like in Iowa. In the end, Hillary Clinton didn’t make it out of Round One. John Edwards won. Obama, second. Kucinich third. Below, the videos, the list of co-sponsors below that:

Co-Sponsors of New Jersey Presidential Caucus De. 7, 2007: DFA-NJ (then NJ4D), Blue Jersey, Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Garden State Equality, NJDC, NJ Stonewall Democrats, NJDF, Blue Wave

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