Author Archive: jackstanton

Adam who?

I’ve gone back and forth about promoting this excellent diary over the last few days. Why? Because even though my lifeblood is going to the actually viable campaigns of upstarts Upendra Chivukula (NJ-7) & Marie Corfield (LD-16), I believe in conceding no vote, no town, no district – wherever we are. But is Adam Gussen doing that? – Rosi

There have been many underfunded, longshot candidacies launched against Scott Garrett over the past decade. Some of the candidates – names are unimportant – contributed to their own wounds and left their supporters bitter and upset.

But Adam Gussen may take the cake for the worst, most embarrassing, and downright shameful candidacy ever run against Scott Garrett.

While we knew he was a longshot, unlikely to put together a serious challenge, he has proven that occasionally even the cynics can be too hopeful.

With two weeks to go, and following the most recent round of FEC filings, Adam Gussen has failed to prove that he has raised a single dollar. His FEC filing page is a testament to his consistency, 0, 0, 0, 0. (I would link to his FEC page, but when I try to access it, the FEC responds: “The candidate you have selected has not reported financial activity.”)

PolitickerNJ this week put Gussen in their “Losers” column:

No one expected the Teaneck Deputy Mayor to be ultra competitive in his general election campaign challenge of U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5), but the Democrat to date has supplied no evidence that he’s spending any money.

I am not trying to humiliate Mr Gussen, but a failure on this magnitude, a campaign of this inadequacy, is inexcusable. The 5th should be one of New Jersey’s most competitive House seats. He has had nearly a year to raise money, nearly a year to figure out the basics of running for Congress. He faced an uphill challenge, but we didn’t expect he would take out a shovel and dig an even deeper hole.

Out of the many candidates who have dissapointed Democrats and activists in the 5th before, Gussen may be the worst. Partially because there was a real opportunity wasted.

 

The Booker context

The writer says that there has been for months a trend on Blue Jersey to paint Cory Booker as less progressive, to injure him with the left. Is that correct, Blue Jersey? What do you think? – promoted by Rosi

The race for the democratic nomination for Governor may not dominate headlines yet, but it has been playing out quietly, and sometimes less quietly, for almost a year now.

The players are well-known, the battle lines are being drawn, and the debate is being framed. For my part I wrote a blog post last week (perhaps prematurely) calling on Mayor Cory Booker to live up to his rhetoric and challenge Governor Christie in 2013.

Of the couple comments it received, one from Bill W tried to paint the Mayor as anti-teacher due to his support of school reform and seemed to indirectly insinuate that he is a “regressive voice.” Another comment from sayitaintso asked, and I promised to respond, “what is Cory’s brand of politics and why is it progressive?”

While I aim to address both comments here, the comments cannot be divorced from the context of an ongoing attempt by one or more potential candidates for Governor, notably Senator Buono, to paint themselves as the most staunchly progressive and to deride any working relationship with Governor Christie as treacherous.

The Booker context

The race for the democratic nomination for Governor may not dominate headlines yet, but it has been playing out quietly, and sometimes less quietly, for almost a year now.

The players are well-known, the battle lines are being drawn, and the debate is being framed. For my part I wrote a blog post last week (perhaps prematurely) calling on Mayor Booker to live up to his rhetoric and challenge Governor Christie in 2013.

Of the couple comments it received, one from Bill W tried to paint the Mayor as anti-teacher due to his support of pension reform and seemed to indirectly insinuate that he is a “regressive voice.” Another comment from sayitaintso asked, and I promised to respond, “what is Cory’s brand of politics and why is it progressive?”

While I aim to address both comments here, the comments cannot be divorced from the context of an ongoing attempt by one or more potential candidates for Governor, notably Senator Buono, to paint themselves as the most staunchly progressive and to deride any working relationship with Governor Christie as treacherous.

I do not want this post to devolve in to the beginning of a side-by-side comparison of different candidates. If you go back to my original post, I was very careful not to say that Booker would be a better candidate than anyone else, I merely posited that if he is truly on a mission to do good, then a run for Governor is the natural next step.

In all honesty I would prefer not to mention Senator Buono directly, but shortly after posting my diary “Why Cory Booker must run for Governor” a new community member posted a similarly titled diary, “Why Democrats Must Support Barbara Buono for Governor.”

The tit-for-tat games have begun. But let us drop the facade finally and admit that for months now there has been a campaign to paint Booker as less progressive, to injure him with the left by painting his pragmatism as a departure from progressivism. And let us be honest, much of it derives from Buono supporters who are eager to frame the debate among Democrats in her favor.

Having been unceremoniously dropped as Majority Leader due to “boss politics,” there is a certain amount of political necessity to Buono’s approach. Her only path to the nomination is to poison the standing of potential primary opponents with the primary base.

But the argument against Cory Booker ignores the larger reality that he is the Mayor of a city which relies heavily on State resources for its survival: State aid covers about 20 percent of the city budget and more than 70 percent of the school budget. Also, Newark desperately needs an extra $24 million to get through this fiscal year.

I am not using these numbers to respond to accusations that distort his progressive record, but it is important to note that being a Mayor necessitates a working relationship with a Governor in the way that being a member of the majority in the legislative body does not. This is an important  difference, because while Booker has a successful working relationship with the Governor, there is still a rigid and wide difference between their principles and politics that has endured for the past three years. To jeopardize the well-being of your city by playing partisan political games solely for political posturing would be unacceptable.

The rest of this rather long post will be dedicated to addressing some of these accusations and to answering sayitaintso’s question about Booker’s brand of politics and how it is progressive. (Note: I speak as an outside observer, I do not have any intimate insight into the Booker camp.)

Why Cory Booker must run for Governor

Interesting convo going on in this diary. Promoted by Rosi

Speculation, rumors, backroom chatter… will Cory Booker run for Governor? Or will he defer?

Much of the speculation centers around his ambitions, whether he could win, his relationship with Governor Christie. Which is fine, if it were any other candidate.

But for the past six years I, like all of you, have listened to Booker’s politics of rectitude. His repeated proclamations that he ran for Mayor of Newark not for political ambition, but for a purpose:

“These people don’t understand what this is about. This is not about a position — it’s about a mission, and a city that should be so much further along than it is.”

I am not questioning his statements nor his intentions. In fact I support him, I trust him.

But it is time for the Honorable Mayor to put up.

This is not about a position — it’s about a mission, and a state that should be so much further along than it is. This is also about Newark.

The Cory Booker brand of politics, the mantra we have heard a million times over for the past six years demands he run for Governor.

New Jersey does not need him in the Senate. It will take decades for him to build up any real clout. And there are many well placed alternatives who share his priorities who have a good chance of winning the seat. The only real purpose such a move would have was for his personal ambitions – building a profile on national issues, perhaps following the Obama path to a potential presidential run.

New Jersey needs him as Governor. All the challenges he has been working to solve in Newark – high unemployment, how to do more with less, creative governance – are needed on a state-wide level. Plus Newark needs a Governor who will work with the next Mayor to keep his vision alive.

On the issues he professes to care about – education, marriage-equality, urban renewal – he can have a much bigger impact as a chief executive.

The need for a strong candidate to beat a Governor whose policies have taken New Jersey down the wrong path is here. There is a purpose here, a mission here, an election here.

All of us who listened to Cory’s speechifying and actually believed in his words, we are here.

Cory, you owe us a run for Governor.

We do not always get to pick our battles. Cory, your battle is waiting, it is time to fight for New Jersey. It is time to run for Governor.

“Many are called, but few are chosen.”

Christie, the Bush Republican

Governor Christie seems to have adopted a new political strategy: bludgeon Democrats with the label “Corzine Democrats.”

But if he wants to use the past to explain the political present, why aren’t Democrats hitting back by calling out Christie for what he is, a “Bush Republican”?

Christie would never have risen to power without the Rove-appointment to Attorney General as a reward for raising big bucks for President Bush.

But what’s worse is that Christie has adopted the same Bush economic policies. Magic budget numbers that don’t add up, a reckless tax cut predicated on politics, and an economy which he has managed to drive into a ditch.

He may have the political instincts of Karl Rove, but Chris Christie has made our state economy worse. The 47th economy in the country. Lagging behind our regional state peers. An inability to take the hard road which will lead to longterm economic success. A shortsighted view of governing. An inability to grasp economic realities.

New Jersey, say hello to Governor Christie, your Bush Republican.

Where’s Christie Now?

New Jersey is in the midst of an economic crisis, spurred on by the failed Christienomics. New Jersey is the only state economy in the Mideast region – which includes Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. – that shrank last year. Our economic output shrank last year, ranking 47th out of all the 50 states in terms of growth and our gross domestic product decreased 0.5 percent in 2011, making New Jersey one of six states that registered a negative rate of growth.

You would think with such dismal economic indicators our Governor would be working fulltime to get New Jersey back on track… You would think…

Instead, Governor Christie is traveling around the country touting his “successes.” According to the Star Ledger, Governor Christie has left New Jersey 54 times in the past eight months and an ABC News political blog notes that Christie is averaging 1.5 days per week outside of the state.  

With such a prolific travel schedule, it is no wonder that New Jersey’s economic troubles have managed to slip the Governor’s mind. It is hard to remember the problems in your own state when you’re out campaigning on behalf of Tea Party darlings and presidential candidates.

The only question I have is: Where’s Christie now?

The struggle continues

To all those warriors of democracy, to all those crusaders of hope, to all those who got into the arena, to all those who struggled and strived and fought and bled for their candidate. To all those who made our party stronger today, thank you.

But no matter the outcomes. No matter which candidate triumphs and which candidate falls, we must not forget. We must not forget that while our differences tonight may seem irreparable, we have much more in common than we do apart.

The struggle to save the middle class, to rebuild America, to construct from the wreckage of the Bush years a stronger nation continues. We must unite in this effort.

We must remember, we are Democrats.  

A sore note in the 5th

I understand that when an anomaly runs for the nomination as a Democrat, it is easy to dismiss them. After all, we hope that any candidate who runs as a Democrat is genuinely a Democrat. This is probably what led Bill Orr to exclude Diane Sare from his round up of the NJ5 democratic primary. But was this too hasty? (On a personal note, I support Jason Castle in this race)

Diane is a Larouche Democrat. As a Democrat, I find many of her political positions “nauseating.” The pictures she and her supporters carry around of President Obama with a Hitler mustache are appalling. Plus she does not have the Democratic line in any of the Districts four counties.

Nonetheless, as reported by the press, at both debates her supporters have far outnumbered other attendees. According to the Lehigh Valley News in the second debate, in which more than 100 people showed up, there were more than fifty attendees in Diane Sare t-shirts.

To add to this, she has outspent her two Democratic rivals. To date, the FEC shows that she has raised close to $30,000 and spent nearly $25,000. Jason has raised and spent less than half of that, and Gussen is at $0.

So my warning is this: while it remains highly unlikely that Diane Sare is the nominee in November, she cant be dismissed. If primary campaigns are about enthusiasm and resources, then she can rightly claim a lead in both areas. Maybe it says more about a slow start by the other two candidates, but we should easily outpace a fringe candidate.

My advice, donate and volunteer and get involved today!  

Christie’s reckless tax cut and the Democratic minority

The Star Ledger is out with their most recent “blame both sides” for New Jersey’s economic mess editorial. It is a powerful piece that attacks Governor Christie’s tax-cut for “magical thinking,” and it argues that “the “New Jersey Comeback” the governor keeps talking about is pure fiction.”

But when the editorial tries to balance these criticisms of the Governor by blaming Democrats for lacking the “guts to tell the truth,” it misses the mark. Democrats are not by any means the blameless victims of Governor Christie’s policies; rather, the Democrats in the legislature are the minority party. That’s right, the Democrats in the legislature are the minority party and this needs to be reflected in our public discourse.

Leading up to last year’s legislative elections, when polled, voters consistently said that one of their main priorities in electing a Democratic majority in the legislature was to off-set the Governor. New Jersey voters were rightly afraid of an “Imperial Governor” and they sought to use their vote to reinforce a checks-and-balances system. Despite the Democratic Party “officially” holding on to their legislative “majority,” voters in New Jersey unwittingly ended up with a Republican controlled legislature. By colluding with Sweeney, Norcross and Co., Christie managed to achieve politically what he could not achieve at the ballot box: a submissive legislature that is unwilling to stop his reckless and politically motivated agenda.

We are therefore stuck with another blow to the economic health of our state in the form of this new tax cut. By any measure, it is a reckless move by a Governor positioning himself nationally and preparing himself for a potential reelection campaign. It is another poor attempt at trickle down economics, a “dogma that won’t die no matter how many times it fails to deliver.” While the richest few might reap the rewards of the tax cut, the middle class in New Jersey will look back on it in a few years and say, “The rich enjoyed the excesses of the present at the expense of our children’s future.”

I am not an ideological purist. I believe that “moderates” should have a warm place in the Democratic Party; but Sweeney and Co. are not making political concessions based on their principles or their political beliefs. Nor are they making concessions based on logic or a well reasoned argument by the Governor. As exemplified in the tax cut, they are making cold and calculated decisions to allow Governor Christie to rule the state imperially. In the process they and their political boss/benefactor reap the rewards of complicity.

The Ledger was right to blame us Democrats. We have showed a lack of guts. Not only on the tax cut, but in not taking a stronger and more vocal stand against the members of our own party that have relegated us to the minority position in New Jersey. This is what we need the Ledger and others to understand: the current political discourse is a farce. The Democrats in the legislature are in the minority, and they are currently powerless to check our Imperial Governor.

When does the bullshit stop?

If political perception were reality then one would think that New Jersey is a shining example of economic success.

Just look at the newest television advertisement from the pro-Christie ‘Committee for Our Children’s Future’, which supposedly echoes Ronald Reagan’s cheerful “Morning in America” campaign from his 1984 presidential run. And yet, New Jersey continues to remain in the economic muck. As Bill Orr meticulously documents, instead of propelling New Jersey forward, Christie’s policies have taken the state in the opposite direction.

This comes on top of Christie’s touting his almost successful “bipartisan” tax cut deal. A deal which may come to fruition if the pro-Christie advertising groups have anything to say about it. Yet the Governor once again employs the divide-and-rule tactic to get the same worn out Democrats to fall in line with his policies. This is the antithesis of true bipartisanship. He is playing machine and boss based politics like the crony politician he is, despite his vehement denials.

And so my question is when does the bullshit stop? I wake up every morning demoralized to be a Democrat from New Jersey. I know the majority of my state agrees with my Democratic values, but my party and more specifically my leaders (Sweeney and co.) refuse to step up and fight back. I do not want a fight for the sake of fighting. I am looking for someone to articulate a forward looking vision to get our state economy growing and to stop the posturing that is the basis of the Christienomics. Moreover, I want my party to defend the principles it stands for, regardless of how much the Governor huffs and puffs.

I am tired of bipartisanship meaning Democrats conceding to all the demands of a Republican Governor. I want my values represented in Trenton: fair pay for hard work, respect for public workers, middle class policies instead of tax cuts for the rich, better and better-funded public schools. But all I get from Trenton is more bullshit, more bullshit ads, and bullshit claims of bipartisanship. When does the bullshit stop?

P.S. Apologies if anyone is offended by the word “bullshit,” its my Jersey heritage.