Author Archive: Scott Shields

Is Tom Kean Jr. a Moron?

If there is any justice in this world, this should effectively end the 2006 Senate race before it even begins. From the Hunterdon Review by way of David NYC at Swing State Project.

Kean said he sees democratic gains in Syria and Lebanon as evidence of the United States’ ability to help foster freedom in the region.

As David put it, “Democratic gains in SYRIA? Is he KIDDING?” This is a huge gaffe for someone running for the Senate. Simply put, there have been no Democratic gains in Syria, especially not as a result of the Iraq War. Here’s an instructive passage from earlier this month in The Guardian that he pulls to illustrate just how wrong Kean is about Syria.

It was early in the morning as Anwar al-Bouni drove to the court in Damascus where he works as a human rights lawyer. He had just spent 10 days in hiding, afraid that the regime was trying to frame him in a criminal case to silence his outspoken views. He barely noticed the two motorbikes next to him.

When he slowed to make a turn, the second bike pulled up and the pillion passenger kicked at Bouni’s door. He stopped the car. “What happened? What’s the matter?” he said. The man jumped off the bike, opened the door and began punching and kicking Bouni.

“He didn’t say anything. He just beat me on my head, my nose, my mouth. He hit me, he kicked me and then when people started to gather around us, he got on the bike and drove off,” said Bouni, sitting in his apartment chain smoking, and sipping black coffee. He was bruised and badly shaken, but escaped serious injury.

The incident was a crude reminder of the perils of criticism in Syria’s closed society. During decades of dictatorship all opposition movements have been firmly repressed. There are few who dare to publicly condemn the regime. Bouni is one of them and now he is too scared to go back to work. Others have been forced into exile or sent to jail.

While both David any myself are understandably mystified at Kean’s ignorance of the geopolitical situation in the Middle East, it’s interesting that Kean is indicating that he will be running as a Bush ally. Here are a few quotes from the Hunterdon Review profile:

The war in Iraq looms as a flashpoint in the campaign, and Kean said had he been in the U.S. Senate in 2002 he would have voted in favor of authorizing Bush to go to war in Iraq.

“Applying any moral lens to Saddam Hussein and what he had done to his own people, seeking to remove him from power was the right thing to do,” said Kean….

Kean said he does not believe American boots on the ground are stoking the flames of an insurgency so much as serving as the harbingers of a new era in the Middle East….

The candidate would have voted for the renewal of the United State Patriot Act, he said.

Now, to be fair, there are a few things tucked in the article that indicates Kean is willing to at least appear independent. He says that he finds some of the aspects of the war frustrating. He pays lip service to the idea that you can’t deliver democracy at the barrel of a gun.

But none of that obscures the fact that, at the end of the day, Tom Kean Jr. wants to go to Washington for one reason and one reason only — to be a rubber stamp for George W. Bush and the national Republican Party.

The Freeping of the Senate Preference Poll

I asked nicely that people not ‘freep’ the Senate preference poll. The purpose of this poll was not to prove how many times one person could vote for their preferred candidate, nor how many friends you could get to vote for your candidate. But the poll has obviously been freeped, with the numbers skyrocketing for one candidate who incidentally doesn’t garner many second, third, or fourth choice votes, as do the other top performers. (Note to the freepers — learn how to freep an IRV poll so as to A) not make it so damned obvious, and B) be more successful.)

All of that said, I’m going to leave the poll up. Without honest answers though, it’s of questionable value at best. I really was hoping to use this as a tool to gauge the level of support for various candidates. But someone thought it was more important to win our little poll than to figure out where our hearts and heads lie. C’est la internet….

Next time, even though I can check all of the IP addresses on this one, expect a poll that goes one step further to require registration.

Poll: Your Preference for a Senate Appointee

Rather than just posting another standard poll here, I’ve decided that we really need an instant runoff poll to gauge the collective Blue Jersey attitude on possible Senate appointees. (For the uninitiated, check out this entry on instant runoff voting at Wikipedia.) We all clearly have our favorites, but it’s helpful to know how they’d rank. Obviously this poll won’t really mean anything per se. But to the extent that we can make our opinions known, I’d say that’s a good thing. So here’s a link to the poll. The choices will come up in completely random order. (Do everyone a favor and refrain from freeping it.)

Click here to take the poll.

Senate ’06: Pennacchio Won’t Challenge Kean, Jr.

Tom Kean, Jr. has been the leading contender for the 2006 GOP nomination to run for Jon Corzine’s Senate seat for a while now. The Zogby Interactive polling has had Kean beating every Democrat aside from Acting Governor Dick Codey by a healthy margin. That’s probably due in large measure to his name recognition. After all, how many people think they’re actually pledging to support his father? And is polling before the public campaigning has actually begun really even worth anything?

The biggest obstacle in Kean’s way has been the possibility that he may face a strong conservative primary challenger. Now that the a relatively moderate Forrester failed to draw votes away from Corzine and the Democrats, I’d imagine a primary challenge is more likely. That said, the most frequently cited potential challenger had been Assemblyman Joe Pennacchio. According to PoliticsNJ, Pennacchio has fallen in line and decided to back Kean. But that doesn’t mean Kean’s got an open field just yet.

Two self-proclaimed conservatives are eyeing the race: Michael Doherty, who was re-elected to the Assembly on Tuesday with the highest vote total in the state, and Bill Spadea, who secured just over 40 percent of the vote when he challenged Congressman Rush Holt in 2004.

“Tom’s a good guy, but I think he’s clearly within the [Christie] Whitman domain,” said Doherty.

“People want to see strong leadership,” he said.  “Even if they don’t necessarily agree with you, they respect that you stand for something.”

Noting Tuesday’s anemic voter turnout, Doherty argued that an unsaturated conservative message is the only way to wake up the state’s politically disengaged masses.

“Doug Forrester basically ran the dream campaign that the Whitman wing wants to see Republicans run, and it didn’t get it done,” Doherty argued.  “It totally de energized the base.  You can’t kick conservatives in the teeth and then expect them to flex their muscle to get you over the goal line.”

Spadea indicated he’d probably defer to Doherty if Doherty decides to run and said he expects they will work out an arrangement in the next few weeks.

“I don’t believe we should pick our Senate nominee on legacy,” Spadea said.

The national Republicans are working hard behind the scenes to make sure Kean gets the nomination. On December 6, NRSC chair Elizabeth Dole will be coming into the state to raise money for Kean and show the national Republicans’ support. However, one wonders how that’s going to play out with Dole is in the middle of quite a firestorm for taking over $80,000 in illegal campaign contributions from corporations. After all, banning pay-to-play is one of Kean’s top stated priorities.

It’s going to be an interesting few weeks while we wait to find out who Governor-Elect Corzine will be appointing to the Senate.

Daily Record Endorses Jackson Over Carroll

I never thought I’d live to see the day when the conservative Daily Record of Republican Morris County would endorse a Democrat for State Assembly. Then again, rarely have we been so lucky to have a candidate like Thom Jackson representing the party. Here’s what they had to say in endorsing Jackson:

A lawyer from Morris Township, Jackson has been involved in state government as a member of a budget task force put together by acting Gov. Richard Codey. He correctly sees regionalizing small towns and school districts as a way to begin reducing property taxes. He supports the Highlands land preservation bill — his Republican opponents do not — and he understands the promise of embryonic stem cell research.
. . .
Our problem with Carroll is that we do not think that his views represent a majority of residents in the 25th District. He opposes embryonic stem cell research and in a recent fundraising letter suggested that it can lead to “fetal farming,” which would be the use of late-term aborted fetuses. This is a very extreme and exaggerated position. He opposes measures to fund breast cancer prevention and similar legislation on the grounds that government should not mandate such things. We respect, but disagree, with Carroll’s belief that government should do as little as possible. We think most residents want government to do what it can to foster a clean environment, to solve problems and to help the disadvantaged. Jackson shares that view; Carroll does not.
. . .
Republicans have had a lock on all Assembly seats in Morris County for 30 years. It’s time to send a Democrat to Trenton.

It’s not all good news from the Daily Record, as they opted to endorse Republican incumbent Richard Merkt over Janice Schindler, but it is an overwhelmingly conservative paper, so we should take what we can get. In an odd way, the fact that the Record split their endorsement should call Morris voters’ attention to the fact that Michael Carroll is a dangerous radical, far out of the mainstream, even for a Republican.

Beyond Carroll’s extremist rhetoric — which both the Record and Blue Jersey have pointed out — extends beyond embryonic stem cell research, unsurprisingly into the area of reproductive rights. Carroll is known for commonly referring to pro-choice voters as “pro-aborts.” Opposing abortion is one thing. But this is the same language used by the anti-choice extremists who have been known to use violence in their protests. Here’s a sample of Carroll’s worldview from the now-defunct website,, still available thanks to the invaluable Google cache:

Now, anyone who understands the English language realizes that abortion ain’t in the Constitution. Nor is “privacy.” The pro-aborts, not Catholics or right-to-lifers, pervert the document to read as they believe it should read, not as it actually does.

The phrase “fully automatic rifle” isn’t in the Constitution either, but Carroll has had no problems claiming that access to them is a protected right and that the federal assault weapons ban was “a silly law.” Carroll also believes that it should be legal in New Jersey to carry a concealed handgun. It’s safe to say that neither concealed handguns nor fully automatic weapons were what the framers had in mind when they talked about “a well regulated militia” in the Second Amendment.

But I digress. The point here is that things are looking very good in the 25th district for moderate voters to rid themselves once and for all of the radical ‘mountain man’ Michael Patrick Carroll. The fact that we could very well wind up with Thom Jackson in his place is all the better.

Codey for Senate?

A recent Inside Edge column from PoliticsNJ sizes up the behind-the-scenes machinations going on in Democratic Party circles that could put Acting Governor Codey in the U.S. Senate. Much of it seems to be Edge trying to kick up controversy in the field, with vague talk of interference from Bob Torricelli, Corzine’s “national political ambitions,” and Corzine sending Codey to Washington as a way of “consolidating power in Trenton.” There are quite a few cross-currents of Democratic intrigue he brings up, but one that he does not.

Democrats in South Jersey have not been overly pleased with Codey’s performance as Governor. Earlier this year, Codey proposed a state budget that would suspend NJ Saver property tax rebates for everyone but the elderly and disabled. Assembly Leader Joe Roberts immediately rejected the proposal, saying “I will only consider scaling back the property-tax rebates when I’m convinced we’ve cut every aspect of state spending to the bone…. And I’m not convinced we’ve done that yet.”

And a likely secondary reason that Roberts opposed the plan is that he felt Codey was selling out South Jersey Assembly members facing reelection. While the seats up in Codey’s native North Jersey are relatively safe, the South Jersey seats are not as safe and could be threatened by the elimination of the popular rebates. One South Jersey Democratic operative said that “South Jersey will not go along” with a Codey appointment to the U.S. Senate. If Codey was to be Corzine’s pick and wanted the job permanently, there would almost certainly be a primary battle next year.

In general, Codey’s been known to openly defy South Jersey Democratic powerbroker George Norcross. Most recently, when Casino Reinvestment Development Authority head Curtis Bashaw stepped down last month, Norcross saw an opportunity to pressure Governor Corzine into naming an ally to the position. But Codey immediately named Thomas Carver to the post with a four-year contract. Norcross was locked out of the process.

Interestingly, the logic behind all of this inside baseball works in the favor of Rush Holt. While a Holt appointment would certainly grate on some of the Democrats who have been jockeying for the position, there’s less chance that it would flat-out offend anyone as well. As Jenny noted, a Holt appointment also sends a strong message to the state’s progressive activists that Corzine is listening and is serious about reform. I’m confident that’s something we wouldn’t mind seeing.

Tom Kean Featured in New Forrester Ads

Cross-posted from

Note: A lot of the background in here is meant for the MyDD community and is not really news to us Jerseyans, but I thought it was relevant for Blue Jersey as well.

New television spots running here in New Jersey feature former Governor Tom Kean pitching GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester. I’ve got to admit I was pretty disappointed to see Kean, someone I somewhat admire, stumping for such lame candidate like Forrester. But then it occurred to me that the reason I like Kean is that he’s always done his job well. He was a very competent and capable Governor. Sitting on the independent 9/11 Commission, Kean set partisan loyalty aside to get answers for the families of the victims. And that’s what he’s doing now for Forrester. Kean is a partisan Republican campaigning for another partisan Republican.

The ad features Kean touting Forrester’s credentials as a moderate reformer. One thing it does not feature is Forrester himself. Sure, he’s there in a few bits of background footage, but you never see him in a natural setting, nor do you hear him speak. This has been the case throughout the campaign. His campaign recognizes that Forrester, who reminds many of Richard Nixon, is perhaps his own worst spokesman. But forget the retail politics for a minute. What about the claims Kean makes about Forrester….

Zogby Polling on the ’05 & ’06 Races

The latest results of the 2005/2006 Zogby tracking poll are out, with a mixed bag for New Jersey. While the recent Quinnipiac poll showed the gubernatorial race tightening, Zogby shows Corzine pulling away from Forrester from August to September. I wouldn’t call any single poll definitive, but this one sounds about right, with Corzine’s 9.6% lead sounding more realistic than the 20% lead from the Star-Ledger/Eagleton poll or the 4% lead from Quinnipiac.

But the 2006 Senate race generates some much more interesting numbers. As we all know, if Corzine becomes Governor, he’ll appoint someone to complete his term in the Senate. While there’s been speculation as to whom Corzine might pick, there’s really no clear front-runner.

Zogby only polled on State Senator Tom Kean Jr. as the Republican candidate and asked about a number of Democratic candidates, beyond the three listed in the 2006 results. Of the three potential Democrats listed, only one beats Kean in a hypothetical match-up. Acting Governor Codey beats Kean Jr. by 4 points, 44.6% to 40.6%. Kean Jr. beats both Rep. Bob Menendez 42.6% to 34.4% and Rep. Rob Andrews 44% to 36.4%.

Granted, these numbers are likely a function of name recognition. And whoever replaces Corzine will have one year in the Senate to gain something of an incumbency advantage. However, Codey’s solid performance in the poll does make a strong case for his appointment, even if the poll doesn’t mean much otherwise. While most analysts are looking at New Jersey’s Congressional delegation for Corzine’s replacement, Codey has indicated that he is interested in the seat.

A few days ago, over at BOPnews, Stirling Newberry floated another possible name for the appointment — Paul Krugman. His name was obviously not included in the Zogby poll, but I know there are quite a few Democrats who wouldn’t mind the pick. I’ve included a poll below to gauge your thoughts on whom Corzine should pick.

Kornacki on the Rally

Journalistic laziness is one of my biggest pet peeves. And as much as I love online journalism, I have to admit that the internet has made that laziness even worse. The ‘mainstream’ political sites aren’t really that different from the political blogs, so writers are able to just cook up a quick response and fire it off without much actual work or even thought. The only difference is that their quick responses are accorded much more weight by the rest of the media than ours.

Over at PoliticsNJ, Steve Kornacki’s piece on Thursday’s Corzine rally illustrates the problem. Completely ignoring reality, he writes that “Corzine did little more than thank Democratic state Chairwoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and Assembly Speaker Albio Sires and remind the audience that the deadline to register to vote was nearing before turning the show over to Clinton, whom he called ‘my hero.’ ” Was he in the same room I was?

One of the most rousing moments of the speech — if not the whole rally — came when Senator Corzine rallied his supporters with an optimistic vision that “we can make sure we can have the kind of New Jersey that sends the message to America that we’re looking out for the middle class, we’re looking out for our seniors and our children, that we believe in the American promise.” There was certainly a lot of praise for Clinton. But anyone who was at the rally can tell you that Corzine’s speech was much more than just thanking Bonnie Watson Coleman and Albio Sires. And when Clinton spoke, rather than “outshining” Corzine, it was all about putting the spotlight on the Senator and his record of getting things done for the people of New Jersey.

Kornacki’s coverage of the rally was anything but a story about the actual rally. It was his preconceived notions about what the rally would be and what the rally meant. I don’t have any problem with political writers interpreting events. But they have a duty to be faithful to the actual events. Some writers have a bad habit of writing the bulk of an article based on what they think is going to happen and then finish up by plugging in a few facts or quotes. I’m guessing that’s what happened here.

Clinton Rallies NJ For Corzine

(Cross-posted from

Yesterday afternoon, I had the great good fortune of attending the Corzine for Governor rally with President Bill Clinton at Kean University in Union. It was, in a word, awesome.

Kean’s Harwood Arena was packed to capacity. I’ve seen reported in the press that there were over 3,000 Corzine supporters in attendance. I’m a terrible judge of crowds, but that sounds about right. There was a huge line — literally around the block — to get into the arena. We were already packed in pretty tight, but still the event organizers asked us repeatedly to try to squeeze together as much as possible to make room for the huge number of people still waiting to get in. I know what you’re thinking — of course there were tons of people; Clinton was speaking. On line, people did mention that they were excited to see Clinton. But most of the talk was actually about Corzine and how pumped up everyone is for November.