On Rep. Don Norcross becoming Congressional Progressive Caucus Vice-Chair

I’m at the hospital sitting up with a sick family member, so not much writing from me today, including much comment on the bizarre news that Rep. Don Norcross is now not only a member of the CPC, but in its leadership. Blue Jersey is long on record opposing the machine-style control of the NJ Democratic Party exercised by George Norcross, Don’s brother, , and its impact on N.J. policy, expenditures, and who is permitted to move up into what position representing the people. Bypassing the meritocracy with massive money and unelected power over the Democratic Party  is not by nature progressive. That has been the Norcross brand, and it has greased the skids for a rapid rise through the ranks for Don  that may not have happened if his name was not also Norcross. Perhaps you can see how that hurts even Don; that people look at him and see only his brother’s looming power. If accountability, meritocracy, and transparency are progressive values, Rep. Don Norcross starts with a strike against him as a self-professed “progressive,” let alone progressive leader for these reasons. And I wonder if his CPC brethren know this.

Below is the statement on Don Norcross’ sudden progressive status, from South Jersey Women for Progressive Change. I know this group to be thoughtfully led, vibrant, and locally-focused. I believe in them. What resonates most for me here is their recognition of their own growing strength, and the strength of other community-based organizations. That despite rocky politics, bad policy, or elected people letting us down, soaring over all that is the knowledge that our communities are building, our people organizing together for good, and flexing powerful muscle. I put my faith in these women, and in all those who give their labors to make life better. I believe that we will win.
— Rosi

Statement from South Jersey Women for Progressive Change

SJWPC is of two minds on the news that Don Norcross is now Vice Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

First, Don Norcross’ record as a politician is hardly progressive. Sure, we are happy that he votes with Democrats generally at the national level (is there really any risk there? Trump is president, for heavens sake!), but on issues of race, particularly Camden’s voting rights, education, and transparency, Don’s record is not at all progressive.

Local Democrats actively supported the Yes Campaign, which would have prevented Camden residents from being able to elect their own school board, even using Norcross’s name on their flyers. Don himself was silent, never coming out to support the No Campaign (which would have granted Camden residents voting rights for their own school board). So how progressive can be really be? How is a “Progressive” on the wrong side of a racially-tinged voting rights battle?

Further, George Norcross, Don’s brother, is the most feared power broker in the region, and had much to do with Don’s ascendance to Congress. These types of family-first schemes exemplify “Establishment” machine politics, the type the Democratic Party would be stronger without.

Second, we recognize that the efforts of our members, and the efforts of the many progressive groups in South Jersey, are the reason Norcross has even bothered to pull the strings necessary to hold this position. He is acting like a politician held accountable, someone who might be afraid that a progressive challenger could emerge from the organizing and infrastructure groups like SJWPC, Journey for Justice, Action Together New Jersey, and others have built.

So while we meet this with a collective unimpressed and skeptical face, we also applaud the fact that democracy is at least a little bit alive in South Jersey thanks to grassroots organizing. So, cheers to that. There may be hope for a little democracy in Camden County after all.

Comment (1)

  1. Bertin Lefkovic

    What I find disturbing about this is that his election to this caucus leadership position was not only unopposed, but also unanimously supported, which means that someone like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez not only did not feel the need to challenge him, but also voted for him. This is a serious problem.

    I am going to chalk this up to people outside of NJ having no idea about our politics here, but considering the fact that AOC was the one who called for her colleagues to face primary challenges in 2020 and beyond, we might want to organize a field trip of NJ progressives to pay her a visit in her office and give her a crash course in NJ Machine Politics 101.


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