Professor Danley’s excellent column about the parochialism of the Democratic Party struck home when I heard a passing remark by a high-ranking state party leader lamenting the fact that the various grass roots activities like Action Together are not coalescing… Read more
There’s been a lot of discussion about the fact that Tom MacArthur, a resident of Morris County, is carpetbagging in his attempt to represent parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties in Congress. In public forums, MacArthur consistently brushes this off by claiming that he has had a home in Ocean County for the past nine years. But that’s not the whole story.
When Olympic medalist Carl Lewis announced that he was going to run for the State Senate back in 2011, a sense of pride permeated his hometown of Willingboro. Even though Lewis was living and running in the eighth district at the time (Willingboro is in the seventh), Lewis’ roots in South Jersey were legendary. He established the Carl Lewis Foundation, coached track for youngsters in Willingboro and was involved in physical fitness advocacy throughout South Jersey.
Today, it was reported that when Lewis decided to run for the State Senate against Dawn Marie Addiego (who was originally appointed to the seat to fill a vacancy), Chris Christie threatened to withdraw support for a statewide physical fitness program in which Lewis was involved. You’ve got to give Christie credit – strong-arming a nine-time Olympic gold medal winner.
There’s more below the fold. Photo is from Lewis’ announcement in Mount Holly – April 2011. Chris Walker is seen between Lewis and Senate President Steve Sweeney.
There are political races and there are track & field races. Both types of races have much in common, and who better to explain that than Carl Lewis?
Lewis, who won nine golds and one silver in four Olympic appearances, also ran for New Jersey Senate two years ago. Not one afraid of challenges, he opted to run in the heavily Republican eighth district where he lived.
No doubt, his fame was one factor that helped formulate his decision to throw his hat into the ring, but unlike another famous Burlington County office holder and Michigan native, Jon Runyan, Lewis’ credentials went beyond his accolades in the stadium. He’s the founder of the Carl Lewis Foundation, which supports youth programs along with wellness and fitness. He’s coached kids in his native Willingboro and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, his political career was aborted by a lawsuit initiated by the GOP that successfully challenged his district residency on a technicality.
Now, Lewis is leaving New Jersey for the warmer climate of Houston. Last night, he was presented with an award for all of his public service to the people of Burlington County, the people of New Jersey, and the people of the world.
In his remarks, Lewis reflects on his Senate race, what he’s learned as an Olympian, a phone call he had with Chris Christie, and a message to those who think Christie should be President.
We congratulate Mr. Lewis on the achievement award. As he moves to Texas, we hope that he continues with his involvement and enthusiasm to move that state from red to blue.
In this video, Carl Lewis is introduced by Willingboro Mayor Jacqueline Jennings.
I’m re-posting this from Monday. That morning, one of the busiest days in the Senate, the Democratic leadership granted Blue Jersey a significant amount of time for this interview. It was overshadowed by the tragic events that evening, but the remarks by Senators Sweeney and Weinberg set the stage for the new session, ahead.
This morning, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and incoming Majority Leader Senator Loretta Weinberg took time out of their busy day to give Blue Jersey readers an exclusive interview. They talked about the accomplishments of the last session, goals for the new session (which starts tomorrow), the new initiative for marriage equality, jobs, energy, and the recent controversies about residency requirements in the last legislative election.
Conventional wisdom says that one way to defeat Congressman Jon Runyan this year is to fight fire with fire. That is, instead of the Democrats standing up a run-of-the-mill politician against Runyan, they should nominate a celebrity. The thinking is that there’s really no one in the Burlington/Ocean county political establishment that has the name recognition, fundraising ability, and gravitas to compete with the ex-NFL “bad boy” and his bottomless source of campaign funds from the corporatists.
There is a celebrity athlete in Runyan’s congressional district – one who has dabbled in politics before., and can be orders of magnitude better than Runyan. Olympian Carl Lewis ran for state senate last year, only to be denied the opportunity to serve because a judge ruled that the long-time New Jerseyan did not strictly fit the residency requirements.
This past week, we’ve seen a lot about the impact of congressional redistricting and the positioning of candidates in North Jersey for the upcoming election. Congressman Steve Rothman has declared that he will move and challenge his colleague Bill Pascrell in a primary rather than face incumbent Republican extremist Scott Garrett. Whether or not Rothman’s decision is a good one, it hurts me to see two Democrats spending a million dollars to knock each other off when the money could be better spent in an all-out effort to oust Garrett, one of the worst members of Congress.
It also bothers me that the Fourth Estate has virtually ignored the important race in the Third District. Another member of the “worst congressman’s club” is former NFL bad boy and current congressman Jon Runyan. Runyan’s voting record is as bad as Garrett’s, and over time if Runyan builds up seniority in the House, his impact will be just as deleterious.
The holy grail of any democracy is the ability of citizens to vote for the candidate of their choice. Some people vote on whether they agree or disagree with the candidate’s platform, but that’s not the only criterion for choosing one person over another.
People may vote for someone based on good looks, ethnicity, past movie star or athletic status, or even the spelling of his or her name. But one criterion that restricts a voter’s choice is the place where the candidate happens to live. That needs to be changed.
There are few Republicans that I would consider voting for. But if I see a member of the GOP who I think would bring the party back to becoming a viable loyal opposition instead of a bunch of extremist corporatists, I would consider voting for that candidate.
Shelley Lovett was such a candidate in the recent election, a Republican running for Assembly from the Fourth Legislative District in Gloucester County. While she lost to political neophyte Gabriela Mosquera, Lovett was the kind of Republican we need in Trenton. When I met with Lovett back in October, she said “public education is the most important thing we can give our children” – heresy in the Christie religion. Lovett was open to the idea of giving voters a say in the establishment of charter schools and had concerns about the use of standardized tests in teacher evaluation as proposed by Governor Christie’s “reforms.” Lovett’s Assembly running mate, Pat Fratticcoli, is also a member of that dying breed of moderate Republicans, and had either one been elected, I would not have been disappointed.