Author Archive: Rosi Efthim

Anyminutenow (or any day) Obama will be texting his VP choice … to uh, me!

Political obsessives all over New Jersey are signing up to get a text with the name of Barack Obama’s VP choice, in a shrewd strategy to ensure that the campaign can later reach out and pull in those same people for last-minute GOTV efforts.

Cell phone numbers are not generally available for public searching, which increasingly makes phone-polling problematic as more and more people – especially those under 30- drop their land lines entirely. But cell numbers are also expected to play a critical role this cycle in making sure Obama supporters walk into their polling places in November. And the tech-savvy Obama campaign is beautifully positioned to confound McCain’s team, considering McCain doesn’t even know how to use a computer:

I am a (sic) illiterate that (sic) has to rely on my wife for all the assistance I can get.

Want in on Obama’s fun? Text VP to 62262 to receive a text message on your mobile phone (normal rates apply). You can also sign up to hear by email here.

Meanwhile, let us know what you think in the poll on the flip.  

If you’re reading this, you’re too close

Sitemeter, which blogs like ours use to track the statistics of who’s visiting the site – page views, visits, out-clicks etc. – has been going apeshit over the last 24 hours. Thanks to everybody who reported they had problems getting onto the blog. We know about it, sitemeter’s working on it and so are we.

Uh … then again, if you’re reading this, you’re clearly not having trouble and this diary is just annoying. We just wanted you to know it’s not us.

Blue Jersey: good. Sitemeter: bad hair day.  

Obama finds a place for both Mueller and Decheine

After a few weeks of buzzy rumor, premature announcements, and internal power struggles, Barack Obama’s campaign has named a NJ State Director. She is Tricia Mueller, an accomplished political player coming out of the union movement.

Obama’s choice acknowledges the power of Jon Corzine; Mueller was the governor’s top pick for the job. Corzine, who championed Obama’s rise when he was Chair of the DSCC in the 2003-4 cycle, chose Hillary Clinton over Obama for the presidential primary. Corzine was not only the key to her win in the state, but a surrogate for her outside the state. Obama’s acknowledgment of Corzine’s choice can be seen as a unity move and a sign the campaign is very interested in good relations with New Jersey’s institutional Democratic players, the bulk of whom supported Clinton.

Bob Decheine, who as Chief of Staff to Obama Rep. Steve Rothman is a longstanding key player in the Obama movement here, will be Senior Advisor. Rothman pushed Obama tirelessly and early, and was rewarded with the role of Northeast Director for the campaign.

Interestingly, the naming of both Mueller and Decheine is a also a unity move in terms of the struggle between the North and South axises of the NJ Democratic Party, which had its most recent flareup during the Senate Primary. Mueller, the director of the NJ Regional Council of Carpenters Non-Partisan Political Education Committee, hails from South Jersey. Decheine’s home base is Rothman’s congressional district, in Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties.

Michael Muller will run the coordinated campaign

Michael Muller, who was campaign director for Hillary Clinton’s NJ primary race, will run the NJ coordinated campaign for the 2008 cycle. State Democratic Chair Joe Cryan:

… We have the best candidates, we have the issues on our side and we have a strong Democratic tide fueled by the accumulated failures of George Bush and the Republicans. Hard working and skilled campaign staffers such as Michael will help convert Democratic advantages into Election Day victories.

The coordinated is the election effort of the NJ State Democratic Committee through which resources are channeled to support individual campaigns, provide common resources to candidates and party-build for successive election cycles. With sharply-defined choices in both the Senate and Presidential campaign, national issues are certain to filter into campaigns up and down the ticket.

Muller, who currently manages the communications shop for the Assembly majority office, is a well-known political presence in Trenton. With so many of the state’s institutional Dems driving the Clinton efforts until recently, it continues to be interesting to watch how the Clinton and Obama camps – and their supporters – make the effort to unify for November.


Obama campaign says Tricia Mueller has not been named State Director

Despite news stories saying Barack Obama has picked South Jersey labor leader Tricia Mueller as his NJ State Director, the Obama campaign is denying that’s true. Obama campaign spokeswoman Gannet Tseggai:

The Obama Campaign has not made any staffing decisions at this time. New Jersey voters are ready for change in Washington, D.C. and in the coming weeks, the Obama Campaign will continue to build and mobilize our grassroots support in the state.

The short list still seems to be Mueller, former National Political Director of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (Clinton-supporter Jon Corzine’s pick) and Bob DeCheine who is Chief of Staff to Rep. Steve Rothman. DeCheine has been a key player in the Obama campaign for months and is the pick of his boss Rothman, who is Northeast Regional Director of the Obama campaign.  

You probably don’t know Gordon Sell

A couple of days ago, Democracy for America endorsed Linda Stender for Congress. And she thanked me in what she wrote. And it’s cool to be mentioned – with Nathan Rudy – in a public thank you from somebody who’s going to be sitting in Congress next year.

I help run NJ for Democracy, the state DFA group, with Jeff Gardner. (and Nathan ran Dump Mike in ’06). Frankly, I get thanked a lot, and it’s often for the work of a whole lot of other people.

That brings me to Gordon Sell. Gordon’s a member of the Hunterdon DFA group I started 5 years ago. That’s him standing to the right. He’s a Viet Nam vet, which automatically makes him different from virtually everybody else who walks through the door at DFA. And plenty of times he reminds us how our opposition to the Iraq War needs to recognize the people we have sent to fight it. And he’s right.

A couple of years ago, the Stender campaign got an idea that veterans should be the ones to talk to other vets about Stender’s support of better benefits for them – like these. The idea knocked around Stender HQ for a while, but nobody took ownership of it. So I asked Gordon if he could take charge, he shrugged his shoulders and said: Yeah, maybe.

Calls started, out of the Hunterdon Democratic HQ in Flemington, a tiny office always too hot or too cold. First it was just Gordon, then word got out and some more Viet Nam era vets drifted in. Once a week, then twice. By the end of the campaign the Vets-to-Vets calls for Stender were Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, after people’s work. And the room was full.

Gordon wanted the calls unscripted. No clunky phone bank scripts written by 20-year-olds. These were conversations – about where Stender was on their issues, and why vets voting matters.

This Has Never Happened Before, not Here

There is an 18-year-old high school senior in Hunterdon who got a surprise today when he went to vote for himself, in his first election as a candidate. Soham Gupte, who is headed to George Washington University soon to study politics, found himself listed on the ballot as the female candidate for County Committee. Soham is a male.

In the crimson heart of what used to be solid-red Hunterdon County, is Readington Township, a particularly hard nut to crack if you’re an active Democrat. And that’s what Soham intends to be; among his accomplishments is as co-founder of the 134-member Hunterdon High School Students for Obama facebook group. He goes to Hunterdon Central HS in Flemington.

The male/female glitch – apparently originating in the county clerk’s office – is interesting enough. But what I find remarkable is that in a county where County Committee seats often go begging there are two males competing for that spot. That’s a big deal in a county like Hunterdon.

In the last hour, the young candidate called me, I called the Board of Elections, who called the County Clerk, and they consulted with lawyers from the Attorney General’s office. And I called NJSDC Exec Cirector Rob Angelo, so he’d be in the loop. And I learned something I didn’t know – according to the Attorney General’s office, the laws reserving one county committee slot per voting district for a female and one for a male, were changed some years ago. Nobody’s quite sure how Soham’s situation will be resolved yet. Lawyers are talking to lawyers, and certain issues like whether the county party bylaws would have to also be updated, are answers I just don’t have yet.

Oddly enough, this is Soham’s first election as a candidate, but it’s not the first time he voted. He turned 18 a few days before the cutoff to register before Super Tuesday, and sent his application in before the deadline. But when he got a letter saying he was registered to vote but not in time for the Presidential Primary, I took him to court along with a lawyer donating his time for election protection work for ACLU-NJ. Hunterdon Superior Court Judge Steve Rubin determined Soham was not at fault and ruled he could vote. Soham’s a bit of a veteran.

Two things seem remarkable here:

1. An 18-year-old is so determined to exercise his civic responsibility that he goes to court to safeguard his right to vote, and places his name on the ballot the first time he can. Hats off to Soham Gupte for that.

2. That things are changing so much, even in Hunterdon County, even in Readington, that County Committee slots are competed for. Hats off to everyone who makes sure that 50-State Strategy is 21-County Strategy in NJ, for that one.  

Quote of the Day: Sexual Specialties

At the WABC News Debate of the Democratic Senate candidates, televised this morning, Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello took the last question, on the marriage equality issue:


Yes, I had to decide whether as mayor of Morristown I would perform civil unions for gays, lesbians and for other kinds of sexual specialties.

In other news, Happy Sexual Specialties Day 2008 Pride Day, everybody, kicking off in just a few minutes in Asbury Park!

Pump your progressive campaign muscles at DFA Training Academy this weekend

Looking for something cool to do this weekend? There’s still time to RSVP for the national DFA Campaign Training Academy, rolling into the Garden State in a matter of hours.

Field strategy and targeting, volunteer recruitment, fundraising strategy, candidate call-time discipline, voter contact, GOTV, media, running phone banks & canvasses, internet strategy, issue organizing, precinct organizing, and voter file are all among things covered in the fast-paced, comprehensive and fun 2-day session, which starts tomorrow morning on the campus of Monmouth University.

It’s not too late to RSVP, right here.

Newark Councilman Ron C. Rice and DFA Chair Jim Dean will sit in on a session we’ll do just for the candidates in attendance Sunday morning (let us know if you’re running!). Rice was the first nationally-endorsed DFA-List candidate from the Garden State. He’s also a founding member of Essex DFA and governs from the West Ward (pop. 66,000) in the state’s largest city. Sponsor of one of the most sweeping ethics reform packages in the state’s history, developed with input from Center for Civic Responsibility, Rice, a delegate for Barack Obama, credits his success to a bedrock progressive outlook, and that’s what he wants to talk to candidates about.

As heard on Blue Jersey Radio last night, with DFA Training Director Matt Blizek guesting, DFA Chair Jim Dean will be around all weekend along with progressive organizers and candidates from all over the state – woo hoo!

It still matters who the war hawks are – on April 4, 1967 and on April 4, 2008

One year to the day before Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot to death on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN., he spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at Riverside Church in NYC. The speech was called Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.

Here’s some of the text of that speech, with new pictures that give it fresh life and relevance. Forty-one years after the King assassination, we’re still waist deep in the big muddy, only this time it’s a sandtrap. It matters who got us there, and who was slow to figure out what a big mistake it was. That’s what’s on my mind as I mull over a choice between Rob Andrews and Frank Lautenberg.

Fighters for peace and justice, rejoice. It is you this magnificent man still stands beside. Here’s the full text of the speech for those remembering Martin Luther King today, on the 40th anniversary of the assassination. h/t Chip Robinson of Morris DFA/PDA.