Nia GIll announced the same day as Donald Payne Jr

Heres my timeline

1)Nov., 2011 Ron Rice makes it clear he wants to run for Congress, Respectfully tells the Payne family hes going to run.

2)Nia does nothing.

3)Donald Payne Sr passes, now it looks like Ron Rice will win it running away….. Then Nia Gill announces the same day as Donald Payne Jr, and doesnt get on the ballot for the unexpired term, which would lock an advantage in seniority vs everyone who wins in November.

The fact of the matter is Nia Gill announced the same day as Donald Payne Jr, knowing fully she would split the Suburban vote with Ron Rice, and possibly enabling a Payne win. Clearly the conventional wisdom suggests that Gill & Rice would split the suburban vote.


A new face in NJ-10?

Donald Payne is one of my favorite Congresspersons. He has an excellent voting record, and heres an example why:

Donald Payne voted with Republicans in 2010 against the Disclose Act. (Hr 5175)

To amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to prohibit foreign influence in Federal elections, to prohibit government contractors from making expenditures with respect to such elections, and to establish additional disclosure requirements with respect to spending in such elections


So many amendments had weakened the original bill- worst were the exemptions to disclosure, (Like Green Peace and NRA), that Donald Payne felt he couldn’t vote for it.

SEIU, UAW and the AFL-CIO have rated Donald Payne 100%.


I’ve asked Freeholder Carol Clarke if she had considered running for Donald Paynes seat, a few times… but I think she loves Essex County to much.

One of the many people I’ve met thru DFA, is Newark Councilman Ron C Rice, before he ran for council. Hes impressive in his due diligence in representing the people of Newark’s West Ward, in a quite conversation on housing and the effect of the Bayonne Boxes that developers were erecting in Newark, he spoke of something better than that. Knowing that knocking down old row housing and building new row housing was not a long term net plus solution.

Ron spoke at a Tom Wyka fundraiser in Montclair in 2008, before the end of the afternoon, I joked with Ron, “So Ron when are you running for Congress?’. And in 2010 at a Rice fundraiser at the Spot Lounge in Newark I asked Ron again, when are you going to run for Congress. Its become a running gag between us.

But seriously dude, when are you going to run for Congress?

Rating How Competitive New Jersey Congressional Districts Are: Nate Silver’s PPI Index

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com has just introduced his new “Partisan Propensity Index” (PPI). If you’ve been following elections closely, you’re probably already familiar with the Partisan Voting Index (PVI) from Cook, and similar statistics from Swing State Project. Cook’s idea is to look at how each Congressional District voted for President compared to the nationwide average. So, for example, the NJ5 district (Garrett’s) is rated R+7, meaning it voted 7 points more Republican than nationwide, while NJ13 (Sire’s) is rated D+21. You can see why Democrats had such a hard time even with a good candidate against Garrett, and why Republicans didn’t seriously contest NJ13 when Menendez left it. Unlike Congressional races, where often one candidate is hardly covered in the news and has hardly any campaign budget, the two party’s Presidential candidates are well known. The PVI index is widely used to identify competitive districts.  

Here’s Silver’s idea:

Are there any systematic differences in the ways that votes tend to fall for the Congress, as opposed to the Presidency? Are certain districts better or worse for Democrats, or Republicans, than PVI alone would suggest?

It turns out that there’s one other factor which is fairly useful to look at, which is socioeconomic status. Relative to how they do for the Presidency, Democrats are somewhat more likely to win races for Congress in poorer districts, and somewhat more likely to lose them in wealthier ones. Another way to put this is that a split ticket of Republican for President, Democrat for Congress is more likely to occur in a poor district, whereas a split ticket of Democrat for President, Republican for Congress is more likely to occur in a wealthy one.

Click through for the statistical analysis he uses. Silver expresses his PPI index as the chance for Democrats to win an open seat in an average election cycle, based solely on two factors: the recent Presidential Vote and the percentage of the population with incomes under $25,000/yr.  Here are the results for New Jersey:

District Name PVI PPI
NJ11 Frelinhguysen R+7 2.5%
NJ5 Garrett R+7 3.2%
NJ4 Smith R+6 10.9%
NJ7 Lance R+3 13.9%
NJ3 Adler R+1 27.9%
NJ12 Holt D+5 62.9%
NJ2 LoBiondo D+1 66.0%
NJ6 Pallone D+8 85.2%
NJ9 Rothman D+9 88.8%
NJ8 Pascrell D+10 96.6%
NJ1 Andrews D+12 97.0%
NJ13 Sires D+21 99.95%
NJ10 Payne D+33 99.998%

The main lesson, if you take this ratings seriously, is that New Jersey’s wealth makes the battleground Congressional districts lean Republican compared to how they vote at the Presidential level. In many states, the R+3 and even the R+7 districts have a great chance of going Democratic at the Congressional level, but here NJ5 and NJ7 are actually quite unfavorable, and should vote for the House like R+14 districts in the rest of the country. When we evaluate how our candidates did, it’s worth keeping this effect in mind.

Frank LoBiondo’s district is the poorest in New Jersey, and by this measure is slightly better for Democrats than Holt’s district, but we are stuck with the echo of 1994. In case it’s not obvious, being an incumbent matters, scandals matter, and cycles can be more or less Republican than the average cycle, and you should always remember that the most likely outcome doesn’t always happen. All of our 2010 races have incumbents so the percentages definitely do not apply. Also, this is the last election in the current districts.

Why I did a fundraiser for Newark City Councilman Ron Rice Jr.

Cross-posted at Jack & Jill Politics, where founder Baratunde Thurston writes as Jack Turner – Promoted by Rosi

(Note from Baratunde: I’m a resident of Brooklyn, NY and co-founder of Jack & Jill Politics. I perform standup comedy and work by day at The Onion. Finally, GO BLUE JERSEY!)

Ron Rice
Last night I visited Newark, NJ for the first time. I’d been through Newark on buses and trains between NYC and Philly or DC, but I had never bothered to stop. I’d become mildly obsessed with the city as my previous posts on Mayor Cory Booker and the Brick City documentary made clear. However, last night, I had good reason to exit the train station and stay a while.

I had been invited, along with comedians Leighann Lord and Scott Blakeman, to donate my time to a re-election fundraiser for the city councilman for the West Ward. Ron Rice Jr, I was told, was s true progressive. He was the first New Jersey candidate nationally endorsed by Democracy For America. He supports marriage equality, believes in evolution and was part of the largest turnover in Newark city government when he, along with Mayor Booker and five other council members, were elected in 2006.

These are all nice boxes one can check off on a list defining a “good progressive candidate,” but these are not the things that convinced me to jump on a commuter rail and tell jokes to strangers. What stood out to me was that Rice helped start the West Ward Collective whose stated mission is:

To finish the business of the 1969 Black and Puerto Rican Convention by decentralizing the decision-making process of the city of Newark by example in the West Ward and to empower West Ward stakeholders to create a holistically stable ward for all of its residents.

The West Ward Collective is organized and run by workgroups and ward based organizations and non-profits… Each workgroup is made up of West Ward residents, community based organization leaders, ward business owners, etc. that have expertise and/or interest in working on these issues directly for the benefit of the West Ward. It is ward based.

The WWC is organized into a series of workgroups such as education, arts and culture, housing, etc and meets twice a month. It helps raise awareness of city resources within the community, and operates in the opposite direction, influencing city policy based on community involvement.

I was impressed with Rice’s commitment to sharing and distributing power deeper within the community. Elected officials often use their positions to consolidate power for themselves, to make themselves indispensable to the extreme and create something that looks more like a kingdom than a democracy. Rice appears to be doing the opposite, and I was proud to support that effort in a small way last night.

Side note: I also learned that making Sharpe James jokes in Newark is still a bit risky. He has some vocal supporters who let me know my jibes and Marion Barry comparisons were unwelcome. As we often say in the business: too soon.

You can find out more about Ron Rice Jr on his website. (Incidentally, his father is State Senator Ron Rice, whom Booker defeated for mayor in 2006).

Joey Novick, Baratunde Thurston, Ron, Leighann Lord, Scott Blakeman
RonRiceJr Comedy fundraiser
Photo courtesy of Yuri Lev

A Suburban Taxpayers view of A-500: FACT VS. FICTION?

Below I have taken the New Jersey Assembly Democrats “Facts” which I consider Fiction and added what I consider to the be the real Facts for the suburban taxpayers of New Jersey.

Fact: A-500 will add a huge financial burden to the middle class taxpayers of New Jersey and works hand in hand with COAH’s third round rules to add additional costs to an already unfair and unbalanced affordable housing system in New Jersey.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “COAH’s revised third-round regulations are entirely separate from A-500 and were not voted on by the Legislature. COAH’s latest rules increased the affordable housing ratios from one affordable unit for every eight market-rate units to one affordable unit for every four market-rate units for residential construction and from one affordable unit for every 25 jobs created to one affordable unit for every 16 jobs created for nonresidential construction. These ratios were adopted by COAH in early June 2008 and are unrelated to A-500.”

Fact: A-500 will add additional bureaucracy through a new State Agency called the State Housing Commission which will then administer the new affordable housing trust fund which will acquire its funding through a 2.5% tax on New Jersey Business development. According to many experts this new tax on New Jersey business will not be enough to cover new affordable housing costs which will then burden already financially stressed suburban communities to make up the difference. As a result A-500 adds unfair and unneeded taxes all while growing the size of State Government.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “A-500 will make development costs more manageable and predictable than the current COAH framework. Currently, developer fees are negotiated on a town-by-town basis, and can add as much as 10 percent to the cost of a project. Such fees threaten to impede economic development across the state. That is why A-500 implements a flat, statewide 2.5 percent fee. According to the Office of Legislative Services, this fee is expected to generate approximately $164 million annually.”

Fact: Through this new legislation the New Jersey Democrats have pandered to the Home Builders of New Jersey, Local Trade Unions, and other special interest groups all at great cost to the middle class suburban tax payers of New Jersey. Any new fees and estimates which are used to calculate a towns “Fair Share” and “Cost” is unrealistic and the numbers used have no merit and leave local municipalities with no option other then costly litigation at this time to fight this unjust legislation.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “Municipalities have a multitude of options at their disposal to meet their affordable housing obligations, many of which cost a town little or no money. By offering density bonuses and increased set asides, towns can make it possible for private developers to completely subsidize the cost of constructing significant numbers of affordable housing units. Municipalities also can extend expiring affordability controls on already existing affordable housing, at little or no cost. Moreover, COAH offers a package of bonus credits to towns for a variety of housing units, including previously constructed projects. It is estimated that roughly $150 million derived from developer fees sits idle in municipal affordable housing trust funds statewide. Towns can use this money to “buy down” for-sale, market rate units – a process that can cost as little as $20,000 per unit, substantially less than the cost of constructing an entirely new home. Accessory apartments – such as those over a garage or in the ground-floor of a house – also count toward a town’s COAH obligation and can cost as little as $20,000 per unit, too.”

Fact: The new A-500 legislation goes against years of smart growth and planning by suburban municipalities in which farm and open space preservation have been achieved.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “A-500 recognizes that certain regions of the state may not be right for high-density development. Under A-500, municipalities located in the Highlands, Pinelands, Meadowlands, and Fort Monmouth and Atlantic City areas will be able to coordinate to provide affordable housing based upon regional concerns. This will allow the proper balance to be struck with regard to environmental considerations and accessibility to public transportation.”

Fact: The A-500 legislation does way with Regional Contribution Agreements which have allowed suburban municipalities to achieve smart growth and allow for open space preservation all while at the same time sending affordable housing dollars to where they are needed. By sending affordable housing dollars to the urban areas of New Jersey where people with affordable housing would have access to mass transportation and access to jobs in areas served by mass transportation.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “A-500 will codify COAH’s vacant land adjustment, which allows towns with a lack of available, developable land to have their affordable housing obligations lowered. COAH regulations currently allow towns to apply for a vacant land adjustment. Memorializing the vacant land adjustment in state law will ensure this tool will continue to assist towns in complying with their obligations. COAH also offers towns the option of applying for durational adjustments, which temporarily absolve towns of affordable housing obligations based on insufficient water and sewer until such infrastructure becomes available.”

Fact: A-500 was ONLY supported by the Democratic Party of New Jersey and their political supporters, specifically Trade Unions, Builders, lobbyists and Democratic Party operatives all who will all have personal financial gain through this legislation.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “A-500 was actively supported by a diverse coalition of mayors, realtors and developers, building and construction trade unions, faith-based organizations, housing advocates, environmentalists, planners, and the business community. All of these groups realized the importance of policy that reinforces the constitutional responsibility of towns to comply with their affordable housing obligations. Equally as important, these stakeholders realized the benefit sound housing policy could have for growing the state’s economy and creating good jobs.”

Fact: A-500 in combination with the new COAH third round rules place impossible to obtain affordable housing goals on the suburban municipalities of New Jersey. Further the Democratic Leadership in New Jersey intends to fast track all obligations to be settled by December 31, 2008 in an effort to force the suburban municipalities of New Jersey to comply.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “A-500 recognizes that many municipalities have been assigned unrealistic affordable housing obligations under COAH’s revised third round rules. That is why the codification of the vacant land adjustment is essential to giving COAH and municipalities the tools they need to manage the impact of the revised third-round rules. ”

Fact: A-500 and COAH’s third round rules go against all smart growth plans which the State of New Jersey has developed to this point in time.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “DCA Commissioner Doria has launched an important effort to revise the State Plan. One of the primary goals of the State Plan is to reconcile differences and conflicts in DCA and DEP regulations, particularly as they relate to the construction of housing and waste-water rules. A draft plan is expected to be unveiled in September, with six public hearings to be held throughout October and November, and final adoption by the State Planning Commission this December. ”

Fact: A-500 is a mandate from the Democratic party of New Jersey which will not be changed unless challenged through the court systems at great cost to the taxpayers first from the cost to their suburban municipalities and then as a double whammy then these same suburban taxpayers are forced to foot the states legal bills.

Fiction (New Jersey Assembly Democrats say): “The administration and Assembly and Senate leadership will hold a series of meetings over the coming months with key stakeholders to receive input on round-three concerns. Together, we will address concerns without comprising the constitutional obligation that every town has to provide affordable housing.”

(Fiction Source: New Jersey Assembly Democrats New Release from,


Third Quarter Cash on Hand for Democrats

Cash on Hand from the FEC quarterly filings:

Rob Andrews (NJ1) $2,429,899
Rush Holt (NJ12) $623,200
Frank Pallone (NJ6) $3,105,223
Bill Pascrell (NJ8) $1,031,440
Don Payne (NJ10) $751,399
Steve Rothman (NJ9) $1,838,631
Albio Sires (NJ13) $132,605

Your politics 101 quiz:  Which of these Congressmen is thinking of running for the U.S. Senate?

ACLU-NJ Urges Attorney General to Revisit Flawed Directive

Promoted from the diaries — Juan

After months of consideration and meeting with countless interested parties – including immigrant and civil rights groups, law enforcement professionals, and advocates who work with domestic violence victims – last week New Jersey’s Attorney General finally issued a long-awaited directive on the issue of what role local police can play in federal immigration enforcement. (Background here).

In a nutshell, the directive says that local police must inquire about immigration status upon arrest of a suspect for an indictable offense, and report individuals suspected of being undocumented to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). It also says that police may not ask witnesses, victims or people seeking assistance about their status.

The directive includes strong statements about immigration enforcement being the primary duty of the federal government, about the counterproductive consequences of entangling local police in immigration enforcement, and about the state’s commitment to combating racial profiling.

Nevertheless, for police professionals and community advocates alike, the directive raises more questions than it answers. The problem is what the directive doesn’t say.

Democratic Staffers In The Right-Wing Machine

When I think of Congressmen Steve Rothman and Donald Payne, “conservative” is just about the last word that pops into my head. Am I worried about either of their progressive bona fides? Not really. However, I’m a little concerned about the choices made by some of their staffers. Two, to be precise.

Shelly Stoneman serves as Rothman’s Legislative Director, as well as Military and Foreign Policy LA. Kerry McKenney is Payne’s Legislative Director and Press Secretary, a juxtaposition I don’t quite get, but that’s beside the point.

The point is that no one serving at the pleasure of New Jersey’s progressive voters should be attending conferences put together by the right-wing Mercatus Institute. And yet, according to records of travel by Congressional staffers analyzed by Kagro X at Daily Kos, that is exactly what each of them did in February of this year.

The Mercatus Center bills themselves quite vaguely as “a research center focused on improving our understanding of how societies transition to prosperity and remain prosperous over time.” However, a more detailed analysis of their work can be found in a Wall Street Journal article reposted at their own website:

When it comes to business regulation in Washington, Mercatus, Latin for market, has become the most important think tank you’ve never heard of. Staffed by veterans of the White House office that reviews and often scales back proposed rules, Mercatus, with its free-market philosophy, has become a kind of shadow regulatory authority. The White House’s top regulator, John Graham, was briefly a member of Mercatus’s board of advisers before taking the government post.

And an analysis of their financial support network, done in early 2005 by MyDD’s Chris Bowers, explains their interest in so-called “free-market” deregulation. Familiar right-wing names like Koch, Olin, and Scaife have pumped tens of millions of dollars into the organization since its founding in 1985. The Mercatus agenda can be summed up as the wholesale destruction of any and all government oversight of big business, consequences be damned.

The only other member of the New Jersey delegation with staff at the conference was Scott Garrett, whose Chief of Staff Michelle Presson was in attendance. While it makes perfect sense that Garrett’s staff would work in association with a group like Mercatus — he’s a far-right Representative, they’re a far-right think-tank — it doesn’t speak well of either Payne or Rothman to have their names associated with the Mercatus Center.

I’m not suggesting that Stoneman or McKenney should be run out on a rail for attending one Mercatus conference. But we really ought to make it clear to our lawmakers that corporatist, anti-government think-tanks like Mercatus are not to be considered honest or credible sources of information or training for their staffers.