Leonard Lance – a bit defensive about his offensive environmental stance

Last week, I wrote a piece about how some “seemingly moderate New Jersey Congressional Republicans”, including Leonard Lance, were really wolves in sheep’s clothing when the chips are down and meaningful action can be taken on environmental issues.

Well, it seems like Rep. Lance has taken offense to the press release issued by Environment New Jersey and instead of defending his stances, he made a very bland statement making a false choice between “job creation” and “regulatory reform legislation”, and asked his constituents to weigh in with their thoughts in a poll.

While it is nice to solicit input from constituents, it would be even nicer to be up front about your positions or defend those that are contrary to the persona that has been carefully crafted when called  

Thanks for Covering the NJ7 Race

promoted by Rosi

I wanted to spend my first blog post at BlueJersey thanking you for the coverage of NJ7, not just this year but since you started this site.    You’ve been a vital voice in trying to turn this district over to the good side, and have been instrumental in my decision to run for the seat.

Things are going very wrong lately in America, as we can see with the “negotiations” over the debt ceiling limit.  And it’s representatives like Leonard Lance who are the problem, unable to stand up to the GOP bosses who refuse to compromise to solve America’s big challenges or to let Republicans think for themselves.  

Once upon a time, he was known as an independent thinker who was willing to buck his party in Trenton and challenged Governor Whitman who made the single worst fiscally irresponsible act in modern New Jersey history.  But the move down the Amtrak route to DC has done nothing but turn the Congressman into a paper tiger who is willing to risk the good faith and credit of America, and by extension your family’s economic security, because he is unwilling to stand up to the extreme right leadership of the House Republicans. I’m excited to be part of the effort to change the representation we have in DC, and have been working hard to be the nominee.  

I announced that I was going to run on May 5th, and in less than two months had raised significantly more funds for the campaign than Lance did for  the entire second quarter.  But that’s just the numbers from a single quarter.

What’s most amazing is that after just two months, we are already almost equal with a sitting Congressman in cash on hand.  He’s got $215,000 on hand (after subtracting debt), while we have $160,000.  Given that he’s been in office and has raised half of that from PACs while we’ve raised almost nothing from PACs, that puts our campaign in a great position.

But it’s about more than money, and more than getting distracted by the horse race of the campaign.  It’s about the people of New Jersey who need quality jobs, who need access to a world class education and affordable healthcare, who need a safe and healthy environment, and the opportunity to live out the American Dream. I want to work with the Blue Jersey community to make this a reality.  

Amazing Race for a Soon to Be Non-Existent 7th District

The 2012 cycle finance numbers are finally out for the second quarter of 2011, and I kniow you all have been waiting with bated breath for the news.

There’s only one race in New Jersey as of right now, and it’s a two-fer.  But before we get to that, let’s look at the rest of the state.

Every incumbent is raising money, though some slower than others. Chris Smith (R-4) and Albio Sires (D-13) each raised less than $100K this quarter, but neither is really in trouble.  There’s little talk that either of them could be districted out next year.  

Scott Garrett (R-5) is the winner, pulling in a whopping $703,681for the quarter first half of the year, outpacing the number two William Pascrell at $489,056 and Frank Lobiondo at $486,271.  Updated: I give you the first half numbers because the FEC pages are not being helpful in parsing things out by quarter yet.end update

Those are the highs and lows, but the real interesting one right now is the 7th.  Most folks out there suspect that the 7th will be the one to disappear.  It’s the weirdest looking district, an easy win for the Republicans most of the time but recently got more Democrats registered than Republicans.  It borders on Democratic districts (6, 10, 12 and 13) and Republican districts (5 and 11) into which it could be subsumed.

The 7th has also never made any sense at all, with the urban and hyper-Democratic east combined with the more rural and hyper-Republican west. more…

Leonard Lance Should Explain Himself

promoted by Rosi

This diary is posted on behalf of Americans United For Change.

Congressman Leonard Lance is ready to face the music – sort of. He is holding a town hall meeting in Westfield tomorrow at 5pm in Westfield at the Westfield Town Hall where he should be asked to explain himself. But as is the habit of Lance and his colleagues, he has made absolutely zero effort to let those of us who might – ahem – disagree with him, know about the event. Nice try, congressman.

Below are the details on the event and some questions I’m betting the congressman does not have a good answer to. If you have time this afternoon or evening and are in the neighborhood, please stop by. Oh, and get it on video. This ought to be good.

How do tax breaks for millionaires create jobs?

Why are you cutting benefits instead of cutting the cost of Medicare?

The Bush tax cuts created a net zero jobs. How are these different?

How do tax breaks for oil companies help me?

Why should seniors pay for tax breaks for Wall Street billionaires?

Name one specific tax loophole for corporations that’s closed in the budget you supported.

If you care so much about saving Medicare, why did you vote to make it bankrupt 10 years earlier?

Why should the middle class pay for tax breaks for the rich?

Since you voted to end Medicaid, how are you going to pay for nursing home care?

Why did you vote to subsidize big oil companies?

Will you vote to let Medicare negotiate with drug companies for cheaper medicine?


When: Thursday June 9th at 5:00pm

Where: Westfield Town Hall

425 East Broad St

Westfield, NJ 07090

I’m Sorry Mother Earth

promoted by Rosi

Today is Earth Day.  While I’d like to be able to say “Happy Earth Day” I can’t in good conscience.

I am extremely concerned at the lack of headway to protect our environment and ensure our future generations have access to clean air and water.

In just under 3 months, the new GOP led House of Representatives have undone years of progress taking us in the wrong direction and setting a course for unprecedented misuse, abuse, destruction, and peril.

House Republicans illustrated their disregard for the environment when they canceled a recycling and composting program in the Capitol. The program employed the best practices in sustainability.

After switching from paper to plastic, the GOP passed legislation to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate green house gases and gut its budget.  These efforts will undermine the agency’s ability to enforce our environmental laws to keep our air and water clean.

The Republican Majority puts corporate profits ahead of protecting American families from toxic chemicals.

The GOP is taking its cues from special interests representing the logging, mining, oil, gas, and nuclear industries and protecting the profits of these corporations instead of protecting our natural resources.

A fracking drill in Wyoming Via the Examiner (Credit: Western Citizen)

Hydraulic fracking is a drilling process used to extract natural gas from shale by injecting large volumes of water laden with hazardous and carcinogenic chemicals.

Battleground Congressional Districts moving back towards the Democrats

Democrats looking towards 2012 should not be discouraged by the drubbings “we” took in 2010–that’s the message of the new Democracy Corps poll of Congressional battleground districts :

A new survey by Democracy Corps in 50 of the most competitive battleground Congressional districts – nearly all of which gave a majority to Obama in the last presidential election – shows the new Republican majority very much in play in 2012.

The Republican incumbents in these districts, 35 of them freshmen, remain largely unknown and appear very vulnerable in 2012 (depending on redistricting).  In fact, these incumbents are in a weaker position than Democratic incumbents were even in late 2009, or Republican incumbents were in 2007 in comparable surveys conducted by Democracy Corps.

The polled districts include the old NJ-3 (Jon Runyan) and NJ-7 (Leonard Lance). Now, we don’t know what the new districts will be, and New Jersey is losing a seat, so it’s too early to worry about details. What is clear through this and other polls that the Republican extremists in the House (and their counterparts at the state level) are alienating independents, exciting Democrats, and all-in-all building a voting record that will be difficult to defend.  

The key though is that Democrats — and progressives — must recruit credible challengers while the window of opportunity is still open. LoBiondo’s district is very favorable to Democrats, but giving him a pass year after year has left him seemingly invulnerable. Democrats can’t afford to make the same mistake with Runyan.

I’m committed. Are you?

Interesting and sensitive questions from some well-informed students at Westfield High School. Parents should be proud. – promoted by Rosi

Two weeks ago, I posted on Blue Jersey about the need to protect our young people from the bullying and harassment that leads many teens to depression or suicide.  This week, I had an interesting exchange with teenagers at Westfield High School about what we can do to make things better, both on a government level and on a personal level.

This past Thursday, I visited Westfield High School to speak to a group of nearly 300 students about the political process and the issues facing our county.  

continue reading below the fold

National Coming Out Day- Come out against Bullying and Homophobia

I didn’t know until today that Ed was once the Residence Counselor at Davidson, the dorm Tyler Clementi lived in. A few years earlier, and it might have been Ed that Tyler came to for help. Breaks my heart. – promoted by Rosi

As you may know, Monday October 11 is National Coming Out Day.  The annual day encourages young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or questioning to feel comfortable being open about who they are.  Sadly, we know all too well that for many, coming out isn’t easy or safe.  Last week, the senseless death of Tyler Clementi was an unfortunate reminder that too many GLBTQ young people do not feel safe or welcome in this world.  It breaks my heart that he was made to feel unwelcome at Rutgers, my own alma mater.  It has been heartening to see the gay and straight communities come together in the wake of Tyler’s suicide to condemn the bullying and violence that makes our young people feel alone and unsafe.  But we must continue working together to ensure that the coming out process for our young people is more accepting.  Thousands of teens and young adults like Tyler face bullying and violence every day simply because of who they are.  This has to end.

Teenagers are dying because they are gay.  Tyler was not the only life lost this month because of gay related bullying or violence. This is unacceptable.  

National Coming Out Day is a call to arms for both the gay and straight communities.  We must commit to making the world safe for all of our children.  We have to make sure that children and young adults grow up knowing that they are loved and welcome for who they are.  And we must repudiate intolerance from the start, so that more children grow up knowing that homophobia, hatred and bullying are unacceptable.  As Harvey Milk once said, “all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”  Milk said this over thirty years ago, but the sentiment is timeless, and we are clearly not there yet.  We still have work to do make this a reality.

Earlier this week, I filmed a video for Dan Savage’s “It gets better” project.  I’d like to share it with you:  

We all have to work together to ensure that for those who are preparing to come out and those who are already out, it WILL get better.

Leonard Lance Prefers Subsidies for Big Banks At College Students’ Expense

Like many in New Jersey, I couldn’t afford to go to college without help.  In addition to work-study, part time jobs, and scholarships, I took out student loans to help pay my tuition at Rutgers.  I am still paying for those loans today.  Paying for college is difficult for many students and families in our communities and these tough economic times have only made it harder.  New Jersey high schools graduate about 100,000 students every year. Most of them want to go on to college, but many families cannot afford the high cost of higher education.  Here in New Jersey, the rising cost of higher education is outpacing inflation.  I’m not sure how Congressman Lance paid for his education at Lehigh, but he certainly hasn’t shown any empathy in Congress for the struggling middle class families trying to help their children go to college.

I’ve spoken about Congressman Lance’s disastrous vote on the Education Jobs Fund Bill earlier this summer, when he opposed rehiring 4,000 New Jersey teachers to teach in public schools K-12, where they are vital in preparing our students for higher education and giving them the tools they need to succeed in the workplace.  On Wednesday, on the two year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, I called out Congressman Lance’s vote against financial reform legislation.  Mr. Lance’s only committee assignment is the Financial Services Committee, where he and his colleagues are tasked with regulating the financial and insurance industries.  Congressman Lance accepted more than $300,000 in campaign contributions from the finance and insurance industries- the very companies he’s supposed to be regulating!  So, it should come as no surprise that he voted against legislation that will protect the life savings, retirement funds, and college funds of New Jersey families.

What I find truly egregious is his vote on student loan reform.  In March, student loan reform legislation sought to remove Big Banks as the middle men for lending federal dollars to students.  The economic crisis has compounded the rising costs of higher education, putting college out of reach for too many hard working students.  Meanwhile, these banks were pocketing $68 billion in profits on student loans, just for moving the money – dollars that could have helped make college more affordable for more students.  The reform legislation that Mr. Lance voted against changed all of that.  Now, billions of dollars that were going to Big Banks fund additional Pell Grants, which will help make college more accessible for many students.

In this economy, no one should be standing in the way of making college more affordable.  The priorities of my opponent are way off.  In New Jersey, we value higher education.  We cannot afford to send a man back to Congress who wants to help the big banks make college more expensive for New Jersey students.

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.