(Apparently) from Bernie Sanders to Bob Hugin in 2 years

UPDATE: Summer is really kicking my ass. Other shoe falls.

Disappointed in my friend Brick Township Democratic councilman James Fozman for endorsing Bob Hugin for Senate. I’m not tribal about this party, nor ‘any-blue-will-do’. I recognize Bob Menendez has an ethics cloud over his head – for which he is responsible. But elections have consequences; these midterms have specific consequences. And Fozman’s action accrues to Donald Trump, to the Republican agenda, to confirming Republican judges (and Justices), and to a likely vote in the wrong direction should the House impeach the President, and the Senate receive that case to decide.

Jim Fozman was photographed with his wife Vera and Hugin making this endorsement. Vera was a fellow Bernie Sanders delegate in 2016; Jim was with us at convention. Vera was working for Bernie NJ delegation chair John Wisniewski, his aide and treasurer. It’s hard to imagine somebody appearing to go from Bernie Sanders to Bob Hugin, in two years. Both Jim & Vera have apparently made that leap. One expects another shoe to fall. So I talked to Vera last night, and I can’t show that convo; I’ll just say it was not illuminating.

Hugin, despite what he says now that he’s running for office, would likely take actions that make abortion harder to obtain, has his own ethically-questionable history running Celgene (ask a cancer patient), and has a homophobic and misogynist history that he’s acted on well into his adulthood, using his position to keep both women and gay people out of his Princeton eating club. Such things suggest Hugin prefers a segregated elite; it raises questions about how clearly he can  even see the rest of us. And more. It’s fairly transparent when candidate Hugin differs from Trump on the tax bill and on the Gateway project. He is after all trying to get elected in New Jersey; our views there transcend party. But where it counts, Hugin puts his money down. Chris Christie donor. Then maxed out to Trump. And – here’s the kicker – gave $233,200 to the RNC working to elect Trump.

I don’t want to oversimplify the Senate contest. Nor do I want to waste time on this drawing distinctions between Bobs; there aren’t as many as there should be. But the company you keep matters. Hugin needs Trump like Trump needs Hugin. And now Fozman, whose moment in the sun promotes both. Maybe Hugin wanted to distract voters from his own timidity, remaining silent as our trashy president had to be forced to honor John McCain with a simple lowered flag. It’s all very unimpressive.

I wish my friend Jim Fozman well. Always liked him, but I don’t understand him. Maybe I will if another shoe falls. **

Bob Hugin gets the Donald Trump shakedown. White House photo.

** Fozman ‘hasn’t ruled out’ jumping to the Republican Party. Well, perhaps promises have been made down there in Ocean County …

Comments (4)

  1. vmars

    Anyone who runs in the spring for party chair and in the summer threatens to switch parties has no political beliefs. Anyone who does it in this environment when the two parties are so divergent has no political morality.

  2. robosz

    Maybe your personal friends from the Bernie team feel that NeverKillary and NeverMenedez are more noble public stances than NeverTrump, since the DNC establishment is so suspect and bordering on evil.

    I agree that your open and constant criticisms of the DNC are mostly valid, as far as they are explained by you and very well, and I look to Blue Jersey to get some of the inside baseball on who is who, and what is what, because I’m just a curious outsider looking in.
    But this particular item intrigued me because it was a Bernie person going over to the dark side of things. And I certainly give you credit for “putting it out there.” But, from a distance and only based on what was reported, I also see this Bernie team member’s endorsement of Hugin as an example of the Susan Sarandon 2016 School of preaching on how best to be a true progressive, … that by scorning the dreaded Establishment in all ways, somehow we will reach a better place — a world in which all politicians are Trump, and then, thank goodness, all peoples will rise up joyously and take back government because it all just got so damn bad.
    Hopefully it works.
    I must also respectfully comment that in this entry you continue to give Jim and Vera Fozman wide latitude in terms of political respect for their opinions, — “I wish (my friend) well … I always liked him”) … whereas a similar level of Dem-to-Trump betrayal by someone who wasn’t a Bernie supporter would have likely led to a Rosi full-on badass lambasting in a full-blown essay on how anyone who voted for Hillary and now publicly supported Hugin clearly lacked a moral compass.
    (You are good at full-on badass lambasting — bravo! — so this note is partially a compliment on your convictions, but a tweak to how you let this Bernie person off the hook, easily.)
    Thanks for letting me in weigh in!

    1. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

      A fair and well-expressed criticism, robosz.

      I am careful – and maybe too careful – not to criticize people as people, even politicians, until transgressions pile up and it’s clear that what’s being discussed is character and consistent and defining abuses. I didn’t think we were there yet on Fozman; we may indeed be. Some of my holding back has to do with the fact I reached Vera last night, and not Jim and to respect for private conversations (I’m a vault on things I know that are private and not necessarily for fair public consumption, and I don’t believe I put Vera on the record). And part is due to the fact that it was Vera who was a Bernie delegate, alongside me, and – though the published delegate list (linked to above) had some last-minute additions/subtractions, I remember Jim as along with us, and not directly representing Bernie Sanders at convention as delegate. He hung with the Bernie delegation, and Vera was all-in. I assumed Jim was too, and in fact had no reason to think he wasn’t. But I never asked him.

      From the look of things, this isn’t a ‘Susan Sarandon’ situation as you describe it, but more likely a case of basic opportunism. The Republicans have more goodies to give away in Ocean, and per the link in the UPDATE up top, there is now an accusation from a fellow Ocean Democrat that Jim was just lining up to collect on a well-paying job, and selling his soul to Hugin was the price. He denies it, of course. I guess we’ll see. Thanks for weighing in.

    2. Bertin Lefkovic

      Rosi can feel free to disagree with me on my assessment of Vera and Jim Fozman and it is entirely possible that she has greater insight into what motivates them having become their friend, but my sense of their situation was that neither they nor John Wisniewski were ever serious Bernie people.

      When I reached out to Wiz to endorse Bernie back in 2015, I did so because he had a history of being willing to go out on a limb with regards to unconventional Presidential endorsements having been one of very few electeds to endorse Howard Dean at the beginning of his run in 2003, but I also knew that he had a history of being on the wrong side of the Sweeney/Oliver legislative leadership coup back in 2009.

      I decided to take a chance on Wiz anyway, knowing that the risk of him being an opportunist was worth the reward of getting some high-profile leadership talent. In the end, Wiz proved to be more of an opportunist (he even tried to get Jim Fozman an at-large delegate spot) than a leader and the Fozmans have proven to be as bad if not worse in this regard.

      However, whatever downside came from involving them in the effort was more than made up for because of the real leadership that our movement acquired when John’s senior advisor at the time, Barry Brendel, who has decades of experience on everything from Presidential (Carter, Hart, and Biden), gubernatorial campaigns (he ran Alan Karcher’s 1989 gubernatorial primary election challenge against Jim Florio – anybody who was paying attention at the time might remember the breakfast cereal boxes – Florios, the breakfast of special interests – they sent out), and senatorial (two bradley and three Lautenberg campaigns) to local and county races, having led the effort to elect Harry Pozycki, now of the Citizens Campaign, Middlesex County Chairman decades ago, came along as well.

      Thus, as disappointing as characters like Wiz and the Fozmans have been, Barry has been the real leader that Our Revolution New Jersey has desperately needed. My guess is that nobody will even be thinking about the Fozmans, who have now taken their rightful place in the Republican Party, a month from now when the Senate race shifts into high gear.


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