Author Archive: ken bank

GOP Assembly candidate exposed as homophobic bully

Correction: the GOP candidate’s name is John Campbell Jr., not Tom Campbell. Thanks to Dottie G who spotted the error. – Rosi

OK, 33 points behind isn’t looking good but maybe she can still make her presence felt and let voters know they do have an alternative to the status quo. In the midst of all the last minute jockeying for position prior to next week’s election is an interesting story coming out of LD 22 where the GOP candidate Tom Campbell, who is 23 years old, is accused by a high school classmate of gay bashing and homophobic bullying. The story speaks for itself, but what really strikes me is how Campbell issues a nondenial denial saying he can’t remember what he did in high school 5 or 6 years ago, but if he did anything wrong he apologizes. He also refers to “the alleged incident” that he doesn’t remember as if it was a singular event, but according to the story it was ongoing over an extended period of time. Aside from the gay bashing itself, how can the GOP put up a candidate for State Assembly who is 23 years old but whose memory is so bad he can’t remember what he did in high school only 5 years ago? I’m 59, but I can assure everyone that if I was accused of something similar when I was in high school I would definitely remember. You just don’t forget those things.  

So where do we go from here? While this may not be an issue that drives voters to the polls for Barbara Buono, it can be useful in reinforcing voter’s perception of the GOP as the last bastion of homophobia, bigotry and intolerance. 33 points behind, Buono has absolutely nothing to lose by scheduling a campaign stop in LD22, and hold a press conference along with Dem candidates Jerry Green and Linda Stender, and perhaps other Democratic and gay activist leaders, demanding Tom Campbell come clean about what he did or didn’t do five years ago. They should also demand that if Campbell doesn’t come clean and hold himself accountable for his conduct, then the GOP leadership (and that includes Christie) should hold him accountable and repudiate his candidacy.

This election is “fixed”

I’m not into conspiracy theories in the sense that Christie and Sweeney had a secret meeting to “fix” the election, but it does seem obvious that there has been a lot of winking and nodding between the two of them to assure a Christie landslide in exchange for Democrats keeping their majority in the Legislature. I always assumed that if Christie had an insurmountable lead going into this election he would spend more time campaigning for Republicans in competitive districts. Aside from a few token appearances, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It seems Christie has done nothing more for other Republican candidates than Sweeney and other Democrats have done for Buono. The Dems threw Buono under the bus in exchange for keeping control of the Legislature.

Of course if Democrats are smart, and that goes for progressive Democrats as well as Christiecrats, they can work this to their advantage. First Christie is a lame duck, and he’s even more lame because he wants to run for President. Christie knows he can’t win the Tea Party vote, so his only chance is to unite what’s left of the Romney/McCain/Bush wing of the Republican Party, and go on to win the general election by attacking Democrats as “extreme” and emphasize pragmatic leadership and bipartisanship as a substitute for partisan bickering that most Americans are fed up with. But that strategy can only work if Christie can get NJ Democratic leaders to make deals and compromise on issues which affect New Jersey. This is where Sweeney, who is no novice when it comes to hard bargaining, and other Democratic leaders can play hardball with Christie and extract concessions they might not otherwise get if he wasn’t running for President. In fact, I go so far as to predict that if Sweeney plays his cards right we may see large parts, if not most, of Buono’s economic plan enacted in a Christie Administration. The fact is if Christie wants to become President he needs Sweeney more than Sweeney needs him.  

Should Buono give up?

I’m not suggesting Buono formally withdraw, but it is obvious from these latest poll numbers that her candidacy is about as viable as Roseanne Barr’s singing career. Of course the usual suspects will say the poll is biased, it favors Republicans, blah, blah, blah and so on and so forth. OK, it is biased. But assuming their sampling methodology has not changed since last summer, Buono has fallen behind another 9 points. Last summer, according to the same poll, she was “only” 24 points behind, today it’s 33 points. Hardly the stuff that winning elections less than a month away are made of.

So what should Buono do now? First she needs to wake up, smell the poll numbers, put her ego aside, and devote the rest of her campaign to helping Democrats keep, and maybe even expand, their control of the legislature. She can do this by focusing her campaign and resources on competitve districts. Marie Corfield clearly has a better chance of scoring a victory in her district, and with some help from Buono and others could actually flip the seat to the Democrats. I’m sure there are other competitive races where Buono can spend her time and resources.

When Bob Dole ran against Bill Clinton in 1996, a few weeks before the election he knew he was going to lose. He never gave up campaigning, but he did focus on Congressional districts that were competitive, and with his help and support the GOP was able to retain control of Congress despite a huge margin of victory for Clinton. Hopefully, Barbara Buono will be a “mensch” and do the right thing, as Bob Dole did in 1996.

Where’s Buono? w/poll

Since there are no events on her schedule today, or yesterday, maybe we can amuse ourselves with a guessing game on what she may be up to these days. On the Titanic the passengers went down with the ship while they sang a religious song. Well, maybe we can have a little fun while we go down with the ship.

What’s up with Quinnipiac?

The latest Quinnipic polls show Lonegan 12 points behind Booker and Buono is 34 points behind Christie. Rather embarrassing to say the least, especially for Buono. OTOH, other polls show Lonegan down by alot more than 12, and Buono down by alot less.

Looks to me like Quinnipiac is using a sample that favors the GOP, especially Tea Party candidates like Steve Lonegan. One might think that Teahadist Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll was conducting this poll instead of his father Maurice Carroll who is director of Quinnipiac polling.

So how does this compare with previous races? Has Quinnipiac traditionally favored the GOP? How accurate were they last year in the presidential and senate races? Might be interesting to find out. Have the Booker and Buono campaigns issued statements about these poll results?

Buono down for the count?

Maybe so if this latest poll is any indication. Instead of moving up from previous polls she’s actually going backwards. That’s inexcusable. Of course there will be the usual suspects blaming the usual suspects, pointing the finger at everybody else except the candidate.

I’ve been observing politics for too long to know that a smart, energetic, charismatic candidate, even with no money and no establishment support, would be alot closer in the polls by now, and Buono has had almost a year as the undisputed nominee of the Democratic Party to get her act together, organize an effective grass roots campaign, manipulate and take advantage of whatever free media she can get to increase her name recognition, and do a better job fundraising than she has up to now. Heck, even Murray Sabrin and Chris Daggett were able to raise more money as independents than Buono has up to now. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if Steve Lonegan’s campaign manager Rick Shaftan was running Buono’s campaign she’d be alot higher in the polls than she is now. If Shaftan can move Lonegan’s poll numbers to 12 behind Booker, despite Lonegan being about as odious, unattractive and repellent as a candidate can be and without money or significant establishment support, imagine what he could have done with Buono.

So where do we go from here? For starters it’s time to stop throwing good money after bad, and stop wasting time, effort and resources on a campaign that has as much chance of being refloated as the Titanic. First and foremost Dems and progressives must devote all energy, resources and GOTV efforts on making sure that we prevent a disaster of catastrophic proportions by not only electing Cory Booker but by a margin alot more than the 12 points in the latest poll. That just isn’t acceptable.

After the Senate race all resources and effort must be made to protect the Dem legislative majority. This does include supporting Marie Corfield who stands a much better chance of winning her race than Buono. Resources must also be dedicated to protecting incumbents like Whelan, Van Drew, Gordon, and others who are in competitive races. At least this will ensure that assuming Christie is re-elected he can’t do much more damage than he has done so far.

To Teabag or not to Teabag

Barbara Buono got into some hot tea today when her campaign tweeted an allegedly derogatory remark of a “sexual” nature characterizing Republican congressmen who voted to cut food stamps]. Personally, I don’t see how calling someone a “Teabag” is derogatory, though perhaps “Teabagger” might conceivably be taken the wrong way. Anyway, it gets very frustrating trying to be politically correct and respectful in characterizing a group of politically backward reactionaries. Does anybody have any suggestions about what is correct and what is not in describing them?

Christie calls reporter “dope”

It might be a sports reporter, but what is Christie doing spending his valuable time co-hosting a sports show when he calls a Jets reporter “dope” for questioning Rex Ryan about his decision to play Mark Sanchez in a meaningless preseason game that resulted in an injury?

If Rick Shaftan was managing Buono instead of Lonegan he would have her holding a press conference tomorrow at the Jets training facility demanding to know why Christie has time to spend co-hosting a sports show while thousands are still homeless after Hurricane Sandy and NJ’s unemployment rate is highest in the country. Unfortunately, Shaftan doesn’t run her campaign, and there won’t even be a press release about it. Instead Buono will hang out tomorrow at some diner or someone’s kitchen table talking about Planned Parenthood, gun control and marriage equality while Christie continues to generate headlines, publicity, and gobs of campaign cash.  

Why Buono is a loser

She’s running a ten million dollar campaign on a one million dollar budget, that’s why. Time for her to wake up before it’s too late (it may already be too late) and realize she’s not a major party candidate anymore (the bosses have all but abandoned her or they’ve embraced her opponent) but for all intents and purposes an independent barely able to qualify for matching funds.

First Buono needs to get rid of her top heavy staff and “consultants”. She can’t afford them, and she never will be able to afford them. Second, she has to start learning how to take advantage of free media and free publicity. For that all she has to do is check out what Steve Lonegan is doing. Political ideology aside, Rick Shaftan is one of the best consultants in the business when it comes to manipulating and taking advantage of free media and generating publicity (I believe Shaftan has worked for Democrats, including State Senator Nick Sacco, but I could be wrong). When you’re thirty points behind in the polls, even bad publicity is better than no publicity. And Lonegan’s letter to Oprah Winfrey, sent by his wife, is one of the most brilliant stunts I could ever imagine (I’m sure it was Shaftan’s idea. He’s good at coming up with these gimmicks). With one stroke Lonegan/Shaftan got a million dollars worth of free publicity in all the media, even national media. And it manages to actually make Lonegan look sympathetic, which is harder than trying to make manure smell like roses. If Barbara Buono stayed on the phone for a whole month begging for scraps from progressive donors she couldn’t raise as much as Lonegan/Shaftan managed to generate in freed publicity for one day. And I’m sure Shaftan has other tricks up his sleeve that we can expect the next few weeks.

But what’s the use. Barbara Buono is what she is. She’ll continue to run her campaign in the usual way, the usual suspects will make excuses for her in the usual way, and she’ll lose in the usual way.