Author Archive: Dvd Avins

Why Both Party’s Field of Presidential Candidates are Electorally Weak

Both parties have weak fields (from a non-ideological perspective, just in electoral ability) for very different reasons.

The Republicans have spent decades developing a culture where nobody can remain relevant inside the tent while calling out the bullshit that people who are passionate but don’t think very hard can be led to believe. The Democrats have just as big a proportion of passionate people who don’t think very hard. But if you pander to them more than just a little bit, there’s no state in the country where a Democrat can expect to be nominated for governor or senator.

The Republicans, though, insist on candidates who believe, or give a very convincing show of believing nine impossible things before every spaghetti breakfast, Rotary Lunch, and rubber-chicken dinner. And at those functions, no one will question the nonsense. So the candidates are all either dumb enough to actually believe the bullshit or are habitual liars who are unpracticed at selling the lies before skeptical audiences.

16th District Top-of-Ticket Results, 2008 and 2009

If I’ve read the maps correctly (I haven’t yet seen anything official) the new 16th comprises:

Hunterdon: Delaware; Flemington; Raritan; Readington; Stockton

Mercer: Princeton (Borough); Princeton (Township)

Middlesex: South Brunswick

Somerset: Branchburg; Hillsborough; Manville; Millstone; Montgomery; Rocky Hill; Somerville

That seems like a district a Democrat could take under the right circumstances even now and may be dead even with demographic change by the end of the decade. Here are the recent Presidential and Gubernatorial results.

DOJ Inspector General’s Report confirms what we already knew about Christie

I don’t see how anyone who looks at Christie the person can be surprised by this, even if they agree with some of his positions. But we know people don’t realize this, so we need to get it out there. From the DOJ Inspector General’s report:

Despite the lack of effective oversight, the large majority of U.S. Attorneys rarely or never exceeded the government lodging rate.1 However, a small number of U.S. Attorneys routinely exceeded the government rate, by large amounts, with insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification.

…we identified five [out of two hundred eight] U.S. Attorneys who exhibited a noteworthy pattern of exceeding the government rate and whose travel documentation provided insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification for the higher lodging rates…

Every U.S. Attorney we asked to interview consented to an interview except for two, as detailed below….

Is Bill Baroni in trouble in 2011?

Baroni’s base is Hamilton Township, the largest town in the 14th district and famous for its large number of state employees. With Democratic governors, the state senator has managed to avoid greatly antagonizing those workers by going along with the Democrats on occasion.

That just got much harder. We can expect Christie to take positions that are overwhelmingly hostile to civil servants. And to expect a certain degree of loyalty from Republican legislators. There may not be enough wiggle room for Baroni to stay on the good side of the state Republican party and also to get reelected in a Hamilton-based district.

Given the civil service factor and the Norcross/Sweeney machine’s involvement with public employee unions, it would be a major disappointment, a dereliction of partisan duty, even, if the new Senate President fails to recurit a strong candidate to run against Baroni.

A complicating factor is that we don’t know what towns will be in the Hamilton district after the 2010 census. Given the growth in the area, I doubt that we’ll have a district that stretches all the way from Hamilton to South Brunswick (or beyond) as we have the past three decades. That makes it harder for those contemplating campaigns to get moving early. But the party bosses on both sides will have inside information during the bargaining process that will result in the new districts. That makes it all the more crucial for Sweeney to assist in at least letting potential candidates know that they may have an opportunity.

I’m not a fan of backroom dealing, even without the old-fashioned cigar smoke. But everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. The probability that the State Senate will become a beacon of openness in the next two years is approximately zero. So the 14th district seat gives Sweeney a chance to do what he does best and to show the merits of his style of politics.

4 Jerseyans among congressional J Street host committee

J Street, the non-reactionary, pro-piece pro-Israel answer to AIPAC has gotten 130 members of Congress to serve as a host committee for its upcoming gala. Mostly liberal Democrats, but also some very conservative Republicans and all points in between.

From New Jersey, Holt Pallone, Pascrell, and Payne are included.

There are about 30 senators overall, including 5 who are Jewish. I am very disappointed (but not all that surprised) that Lautenberg is not among them. Rothman, too.

http://www.jstreet.org/GalaHos…

Inauguration Day Party

Inauguration Day, 2009 will be America’s most important civic holiday since at least the Bicentennial, over 30 years ago. That’s worth taking the day off work (if you can) and joining in a celebration of:

  1. Our democracy. We have survived an administration that (with varying degrees of intent) has tried to undermine the Constitution that keeps the people sovereign. For all the outrages and angst and despite the lasting damage, we have passed this crisis and it is time for joy.
  2. The election of a Black man is but one step on the road to America’s acceptance of all its people as full citizens, but it is an important step. It also shines a light on just how much all the previous steps have added up to, as well as how far we have to go.
  3. There is a fair chance that President Barack Obama will front a movement that will do more to give equal civic power to those disenfranchised by class than we have seen in many decades. At worst, he will be like Bill Clinton, who is unfortunately the best of the 10 presidents I have lived under. At best, Obama will be to the 21st Century what FDR was to the 20th.

So come join me on the morning and afternoon of the 20th, next Tuesday, and bring your kids of you have kids.

We will watch the events on TV. We will sing This Land is Your Land and read from Langston Hughes’ Let America Be America Again, along with whatever songs, reading and artworks you want to share. We will have noisemakers, champaign, and sparkling cider. And we will share our hopes for the future and what WE can do to make those hopes come to pass. We’ll start at 10:00 and end mid-afternoon.

The party location is dependent on who wants to come. My place is available, in Kendall Park, NJ. I’m guessing we’ll get a mix of New Jersey and New York folks and may want to move the party further north. So RSVP with a yes or maybe (or a no, if you can’t make it but want to share your thoughts by mail) and say your location preference. And if you have a place that gets good TV reception of Channel 13 and/or C/SPAN and you can handle about a dozen kids and adults, you can volunteer your place, if you want. I’ll handle the expenses and whatever help with cleanup over the weekend that you want. Otherwise we’ll be here in KP (or possibly Highland Park).

You can reach me at dvdavins at pobox dot com.

Inauguration Day Party

Inauguration Day, 2009 will be America’s most important civic holiday since at least the Bicentennial, over 30 years ago. That’s worth taking the day off work (if you can) and joining in a celebration of:

  1. Our democracy. We have survived an administration that (with varying degrees of intent) has tried to undermine the Constitution that keeps the people sovereign. For all the outrages and angst and despite the lasting damage, we have passed this crisis and it is time for joy.
  2. The election of a Black man is but one step on the road to America’s acceptance of all its people as full citizens, but it is an important step. It also shines a light on just how much all the previous steps have added up to, as well as how far we have to go.
  3. There is a fair chance that President Barack Obama will front a movement that will do more to give equal civic power to those disenfranchised by class than we have seen in many decades. At worst, he will be like Bill Clinton, who is unfortunately the best of the 10 presidents I have lived under. At best, Obama will be to the 21st Century what FDR was to the 20th.

So come join me on the morning and afternoon of the 20th, next Tuesday, and bring your kids of you have kids.

We will watch the events on TV. We will sing This Land is Your Land and read from Langston Hughes’ Let America Be America Again, along with whatever songs, reading and artworks you want to share. We will have noisemakers, champaign, and sparkling cider. And we will share our hopes for the future and what WE can do to make those hopes come to pass. We’ll start at 10:00 and end mid-afternoon.

The party location is dependent on who wants to come. My place is available, in Kendall Park, NJ. I’m guessing we’ll get a mix of New Jersey and New York folks and may want to move the party further north. So RSVP with a yes or maybe (or a no, if you can’t make it but want to share your thoughts by mail) and say your location preference. And if you have a place that gets good TV reception of Channel 13 and/or C/SPAN and you can handle about a dozen kids and adults, you can volunteer your place, if you want. I’ll handle the expenses and whatever help with cleanup over the weekend that you want. Otherwise we’ll be here in KP (or possibly Highland Park).

You can reach me at dvdavins at pobox dot com.

How Democratic is YOUR County?

It’s more than a little backward how much state political power is defined at the county level, when outside of Hudson, most voters have rather weak identification with their county. But that’s the way it is. And power comes in part from how many votes you can deliver.

At the old Middlesex County victory gatherings I used to attend, status was based on the margin your town brought in. The Freeholder (or whatever race the bigwigs were concerned with) total for the Democrats minus that for the Republicans. I suppose it works similarly at the state level with counties, at least sometimes. Better might be to compare what you delivered with the most and least that your town could have delivered, but that was too complicated and subjective.

Another source of power is the ability to have your candidates win a state-wide primary. That would be based more on the raw number of Democrats in your county.

And if you want to see which counties ought to have the most progressive government and political culture, you can look at the percentage of the vote that goes Democratic.

Now is a good chance to see how Democratic the counties are, because in Lautenberg-Zimmer, we’ve just had about the most generic state-wide race imaginable. Neither candidate had a significant local base. Neither candidate had a controversial or shining personality. It was a Democratic year, but Lautenberg’s age probably balances that. So the 2008 NJ-Sen race gives us an unusually good window to voters’ proclivities, independent of their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with their Freeholders or anyone else.

Below the fold are tables with the counties ranked from 1 to 21 by each of the three measures above, using the Senate returns current on the Daily Kos tracker as of this afternoon. I suppose a few more votes may yet trickle in, so these totals may not be final.

EDIT: fixed first table to include Bergen only once and to include Essex