Garden State Equality and New Jersey Stonewall Democrats endorse Joe Vas for Congress

This is big news. It’s clear from their statement that GSE and NJ Stonewall Democrats had a difficult time coming to this decision.

To tell it like it is, our organizations would have preferred to make the same endorsement that Governor Jon Corzine, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and county party leaders have made.

But in a state legislature where almost all Democrats and many Republicans have been supportive of LGBTI rights, Albio Sires has been stand-out awful.  At every turn throughout his time in the Assembly, he has sent signals of being deeply uncomfortable with equality for the LGBTI community.

In fact, our organizations waited until this late stage to endorse a candidate in this race in order to give Assemblyman Sires and his staff every opportunity to meet with us.  They would not.

The statement goes on to detail Sires’ poor record when it comes to GLBTI issues, but what stood out for me was what they said next:

Though we are LGBTI rights organizations, we must note with great discomfort that Assemblyman Sires has a chequered record on a woman’s right to choose.  A self-described Reagan conservative until he switched parties strategically — to run in a district where no Republican could win — he once opposed a woman’s right to choose including in cases of rape or incest.

Mayor Vas, on the other hand, is a longtime progressive and one of the LGBTI community’s staunchest allies.  He is a Prime Sponsor of the transgender equality bill in the state legislature.  He supports needle exchange to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.  And he has spoken out repeatedly against amending the federal and state constitutions to ban marriage equality.

These guys seem to get it. Though they’re “single-issue” groups, they recognize the importance of building progressive alliances and working beyond their natural constituent base as a necessity to progressive success. They look out for their friends. Unlike NARAL which took a beating from Lieberman and came back to endorse him anyway, the leadership of GSE and the Stonewall Democrats took the much more politically difficult route of putting their principles first, knowing that they will probably get a cold reception at the next political cocktail party.

The entire press release is below, and I strongly encourage you to read it all.

Divisive Primary Helps Who?

Generally, I believe every election should be contested.  Otherwise, they simply don’t deserve to be called an election, right?  After all, Castro lets people vote for him but that hardly makes him the leader of a democratic country.

As we’ve seen over the last twenty years or so, the way that the National Republican Party has contested elections is through a “divide and conquer” strategy.  By setting Americans against Americans, they have driven wedge issue after wedge issue into the heartland of our country.  Now we openly talk about “Red states” and “Blue states” instead of the “United States”.  (Note: Research “Roger Ailes” if you think this was a harmless by-product of politics.)

Vas Rips Sires

A recent poll conducted on behalf of Joe Vas’ campaign (take with grain of salt) showed him leading Albio Sires by 26%-24%. In October, the poll, with a 3% margin of error, showed Sires ahead by 30%-22%. Vas’ name recognition is also up to 36% (from 15% in the October poll) – almost matching Sires’ 38%.

According to a statement from Vas’ campaign, Joe Vas held a press conference outside of Sires’ office Wednesday morning, but they were ordered to leave by a city employee. Vas’ responded with a scathing statement, even comparing Sires to George W Bush:

Albio Sires seems to have no problem spreading his hateful rhetoric and lies but at the same time refuses to say it to Joe Vas… face to face.

Albio Sires is a coward. He goes around spreading lies about Joe Vas but refuses to debate Joe Vas.

Albio Sires and George Bush have a lot in common. They are both liars. They are both dedicated Republicans. They are both pro-life, pro-war, pro-NRA, anti-environmental politicians. In fact, Albio Sires at one time supported and voted for George Bush. This was around the same time he campaigned with Newt Gingrich and Christie Whitman.

The statement then went on to list 12 “lies of Albio Sires”. The full statement is below.

Vas admits mistake in sex offender letter, NYTimes disappearing article

In an article on the front page of the NJ section of the Sunday NYTimes, Mayor Underdog, that doesn’t seem to appear free on line (I don’t even see it indexed “Times select”), Jonathan Miller reports that Vas, after first defending himself, admitted he made a mistake:

Mr. Vas has had to overcome some recent stumbles. It was first reported last month on politicsnj.com that Mr. Vas wrote a letter in 2004 — on General Assembly letterhead — requesting leniency in the sentencing of Joe T. Trinidad, 43, a son of a friend.

Mr. Trinidad had pleaded guilty to sexual assault in Morris County in a case stemming from Mr. Trinidad’s relationship with a 15-year-old girl. Mr. Trinidad also pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. Initially, Mr. Vas defended his written request for a lighter sentence, noting Mr. Trinidad’s veteran status and psychological history. But in a recent interview, he said that he was wrong to write the letter.

”As I look back at it today,” he said, ”it is definitely a mistake on my part.”

Miller leaves out the fact that the ‘friend’ is “Lydia Trinidad, the longtime executive director of the Puerto Rican Association for Human Development, a high-profile post at a high-profile social services agencyin Perth Amboy,” as reported in the Home News.

And what is up with this?

Mr. Vas has assailed Mr. Sires for taking $12,000 from casino operators, then passing an exception for them in a recently imposed state smoking ban, a move that would have been illegal had the donations been given to a state campaign. But in 2005, donors forgave Mr. Vas $150,000 in debt (much of it contributed by the city’s Democratic organization) for his Assembly campaign — an unusual move, but one that is not illegal.

When asked about it, Mr. Vas said: ”We loaned money to the campaign. We could have just donated it to the campaign. You can just chalk that up to inexperience in these campaigns. We’re not professional politicians in Perth Amboy.”

Monday, April 24, 2006 News Roundup

  • Voters in the 13th district may be feeling a bit of déjà vu, as the candidates could be identical to the congressional race in 1986. Yes, I’m talking about Albio Sires and John Guarini, second cousin to Sires’ first opponant, Frank J. Guarini. Sires, then a Republican, ran against Guarini for Congress in 1986. Guarini won then, but now things are a bit different…starting with their party affiliation. John Guarini is a Republican and Sires is running as a Democrat. But nothing is definite yet, Sires still has to face a strong primary challenge from Joe Vas for the Democratic nomination.
  • A report slated to be released today exposes thousands of wasted dollars at UMDNJ. To add to the troubles the medical school has faced in the recent months, the report depicts (among other monetary dishonesties) how the financial records were falsified to show that the university’s headache center was making a profit, which enabled the former dean of the School of Osteopathic Medicine to receive an annual bonus of $15,000.
  • Roughly a year after a federal judge removed the leaders of the corrupt Local 734 of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, the Rochelle Park based local union’s pension plan is on the verge of collapsing. This comes after a former executive hired friends and family members to work frivolous part-time jobs at exorbitant salaries, in addition to questions being posed about the organization’s connections to organized crime.
  • Daniel Ellsberg, who’s known primarily for leaking the “Pentagon Papers” to the New York Times in 1971, is calling for full disclosure by the Bush Administration on the Iraq War. He did this while addressing an audience composed primarily of members of the Coalition for Peace Action at the Princeton Theological Seminary last evening.
  • Governor Corzine hits the 100-Days in Office mark this week. The first 100 days are often the most crucial in determining how any elected official will lead their constituency. The Governor appears to be embracing his new role humbly and not striving to constantly be in the limelight, like some of his predecessors have done.
  • Meet the Candidates

    This is the most recent listing of candidates that have filed petitions for federal office. The first candidate listed in each category is the incumbent. The number after their names indicates the number of petition signatures submitted, and I also included the slogans of some of the candidates running without the party endorsement.

    US Senate:
        Bob Menendez (D) 8029
        James D. Kelly Jr (D) 1300
        Thomas H. Kean Jr. (R) 4202
        John P. Ginty (R) 1742

    House Districts
    1:  Rob Andrews (D)

    2:  Frank LoBiondo (R) 804
        Viola Thomas-Hughes (D) 298
        Henry David Marcus (D) 207 "Change the Course!"

    3:  Jim Saxton (R) 949
        Richard Sexton (D) 293

    4:  Chris Smith (R) 675
        Gary Schiavone (D) 310

    5:  Scott Garrett (R) 513
        Michael Cino (R) 300
        Paul Aronsohn (D) 495
        Camille M. Abate (D) 427 "A New Spine For Congress"

    6:  Frank Pallone Jr (D) 310
        Leigh-Ann Bellew (R) 278

    7:  Mike Ferguson (R) 896
        Linda Stender (D) 532

    8:  Bill Pascrell (D) 4301
        Jose Sandivol (R) 407

    9:  Steve Rothman (D) 1020
        Vincent Micco (R) 321

    10: Donald Payne (D) 1244
        Deshon Porter (D) 211

    11: Rodney Frelinghuysen (R) 699
        Tom Wyka (D) 332

    12: Rush Holt (D) 1216
        Joseph Sinagra (R) 225

    13: Special election for unexpired term
        Albio Sires (D) 530
        James Geron (D) 268

    13: For full term
        Albio Sires (D) 3229
        Joseph Vas (D) 594
        John Guarini (R) 255

    Every NJ Congressional District Will Be Challenged

    Update 3 (A big one, so I’m posting it up top): There WILL be two Democratic challengers to Frank LoBiondo in NJ-2. Fairfield Township councilwoman Viola Thomas-Hughes and Henry David Marcus will compete in the primary. This now means that every Republican House member in New Jersey will face a challenger in November.

    According to the Division of Elections, Gary Schiavone has filed to challenge Chris Smith in the 4th Congressional district. With about two hours left until the filing deadline, no Democrat has filed in the 2nd yet to challenge LoBiondo.

    The GOP has failed to file challenges to Rob Andrews (NJ-1) and Donald Payne (NJ-10).

    Update 1: Donald Payne (NJ-10) will have a challenger in the primary, and Michael Cino has just filed to challenge Garrett in the primary. Assemblywoman Oadline Truitt (D) from the 28th legislative district will face a primary challenge.

    Update 2: (via politicsnj)

    Joe Vas filed petitions to run for the full 2-year term in the 13th district, but not for the Special Election.

    John Ginty filed petitions to seek the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate today.  Ginty filed with 1,742 signatures.

    James Kelly, a resident of a group home for the mentally disabled , filed as a U.S. Senate candidate in the primary against Bob Menendez.

    Updated: Hudson DFA Endorses Joe Vas

    Correction: Senator Menendez has not endorsed anyone. Senator Corzine, Governor Codey, and Representatives Andrews, Pascrell and Rothman have all endorsed Sires.

    Underdog Congressional candidate Assemblyman Joe Vas, competing against Assembly Speaker Albio Sires in the Democratic primary to fill the empty 13th Congressional district seat, today received the endorsement of the 150-member Hudson County DFA organization. Sires has already lined up support from Governor Corzine, Senator Menendez and the vast majority of elected officials in the district. But a statement from the group’s organizer, Jake Stuvier, notes that the endorsement was not to buck the machine:

    “This was in no way a knee-jerk anti-machine vote…This was a long, deliberative process in which we took both candidates very seriously and appreciated the time they spent meeting with us. In the end, the majority of our members, many of whom are veterans of progressive, reformist activities around the county, identified with Vas as someone who is enthusiastically fighting for change.”

    The full press release is below.

    Trouble in the 13th?

    Albio Sires may have a hiccup in his plans to succeed Robert Menendez in NJ’s 13th Congressional District.  PoliticsNJ has a photocopy of a court summons issued for Sires to appear and answer charges of harrassment.

    West New York resident Frank Caratura alleges that the former NJ Assembly Speaker was “invading the victim’s privacy and following him using a repetative voice and physical menance {sic) causing the victim alarm, concern, and annoyance.” 
    Given this happened in Hudson County, it’s unlikely to change things at all in the primary.  Technically, Sires is being challenged by Joe Vas of Perth Amboy.  As of this writing, there’s nothing on the Vas website about the latest misadventure of Albio Sires – but I’d say that’s just a matter of time (and the decision of the court).