Tag Archive: Adam Gussen

In Flanders Fields of Teaneck: Memorial (And Some Politics)

 Teaneck’s Memorial Day Observance on its Municipal Green evoked the picture and spirit of John McCrae’s famous poem:

    “In Flanders fields the poppies blow,

    Between the crosses, row on row.”

Amidst the crosses and present to honor our fallen heroes were some 400 people including veterans, first responders, general public, and Guest Speaker Sergeant Jason Castle, Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen, Sen. Loretta Weinberg, and former Congressman Andy Maguire.

Mr. Gussen presented introductory remarks quoting  from the poem. He was the 5th CD’s Democratic candidate who last year ran unsuccessfully against Republican incumbent Congressman Scott Garret after winning the primary against newcomer Jason Castle. However, it was Jason Castle who stole the day and Andrew Maguire who listened quietly but may become the Democratic standard-bearer in next year’s congressional race.

The introducer for Jason Castle said, “And now the moment you have been waiting for” followed by wild applause. Early in his speech Castle said, “Thank you Teaneck residents because so many of you spoke up loud enough not to be ignored.” The Teaneck Council had invited, then disinvited, and following rage from local activists had re-invited Castle as a featured speaker. For the remarkable back story attesting to the power of those who protest, see Nick Lento’s Blue Jersey Diary The US Constitution Wins Big in Teaneck.

Castle ended his speech asking the audience to “keep vigil for those who did not return, commit something to your nation, and celebrate “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

At 73 years of age Andy Maguire brings a wealth of experience, including 3 terms as a congressman beginning in 1974 in the former CD 7 and important government roles at the Department of State and U.N. After the event he acknowledged he was considering a possible run, he expressed enthusiasm toward taking on Rep. Garrett, but would not say when he would make a final decision. He is a resident in CD 5 living in Ridgewood.

Another potential candidate for CD 5 is Roy Cho, in his early 30’s, currently a lawyer (private equity and mergers and acquisition) who had served as an assistant to Jamie Fox while at the PA NY-NJ and as an aid to former Governor McGreevy. He already is soliciting donations at his web site and is on Facebook and twitter. In his FEC  filing he lists a Hackensack address which is in another CD.

Sen. Barbara Buono who has plans to stop in Teaneck this afternoon reminds us, “151 service members with ties to New Jersey have died fighting in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

     “We are the Dead. Short days ago

     We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.

     To you from failing hands we throw 

     The torch; be yours to hold it high.”

CD 5: Petty Politics, Reporting Failure, and Time to Retire Garrett

Over the past several weeks petty politics has reared its ugly head in Teaneck. After extensive criticism the Teaneck Council has now changed its position and re-invited Iraq war veteran Jason Castle to speak at the Teaneck Memorial Day ceremony. Al Doblin pointed out in the Record, “As a Marine, Castle was an ideal candidate for such a role – local, well-spoken and served in Iraq. That was not good enough for a majority on the town council.” The initial invitation was rescinded. Jason Castle had run in the Democratic primary in CD 5 against Adam Gussen, Teaneck’s Deputy Mayor and Councilman. Castle has also been a critic of the council. It was only fair to re-issue the invitation, which Castle has re-accepted.

In the meantime, however, there is a cloud over Jason Castle because he and his campaign committee have been remiss in submitting FEC financial reports. His last received report was for the period ending March 31, 2012. Since then he has been sent five Notices of Failure To File. The most recent notice on May 3 2013 (covering the period ending March 31, 2013) warns him “civil money penalties, an audit or legal enforcement action” may result.

The larger problem remains: a strong candidate to challenge incumbent Republican Congressman and arch-conservative Scott Garrett – he with the $2 million plus war chest and over ten years on the job. (Last year Jason Castle raised $13,000, and Adam Gussen raised $51,000.) A successful opponent must get in the fray early, have a good track record, develop his/her own substantial warchest, attract a staff, and begin getting out his or her message to the voters. The district leans slightly Republican. It’s not too early now for such a candidate or candidates to step forward. The battle would be fierce but retiring Garrett would be so very sweet.  

Teaneck Politics Takes an Uglier Turn

I had some nasty flashbacks this past week. All the way back to 2005. That was around the time that the soon to be convicted Boss Tweed of Bergen County – Joe Ferriero – attempted to turn Non-Partisan Township of Teaneck into his own personal fiefdom.

Judging from what just happened in Teaneck last week, those awful poisonous seeds planted 8 years ago by Boss Joe, and which I have blogged about in the past, have come to fruition.  In fact some of them are sitting on the Council as we speak.  

Adam who?

I’ve gone back and forth about promoting this excellent diary over the last few days. Why? Because even though my lifeblood is going to the actually viable campaigns of upstarts Upendra Chivukula (NJ-7) & Marie Corfield (LD-16), I believe in conceding no vote, no town, no district – wherever we are. But is Adam Gussen doing that? – Rosi

There have been many underfunded, longshot candidacies launched against Scott Garrett over the past decade. Some of the candidates – names are unimportant – contributed to their own wounds and left their supporters bitter and upset.

But Adam Gussen may take the cake for the worst, most embarrassing, and downright shameful candidacy ever run against Scott Garrett.

While we knew he was a longshot, unlikely to put together a serious challenge, he has proven that occasionally even the cynics can be too hopeful.

With two weeks to go, and following the most recent round of FEC filings, Adam Gussen has failed to prove that he has raised a single dollar. His FEC filing page is a testament to his consistency, 0, 0, 0, 0. (I would link to his FEC page, but when I try to access it, the FEC responds: “The candidate you have selected has not reported financial activity.”)

PolitickerNJ this week put Gussen in their “Losers” column:

No one expected the Teaneck Deputy Mayor to be ultra competitive in his general election campaign challenge of U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5), but the Democrat to date has supplied no evidence that he’s spending any money.

I am not trying to humiliate Mr Gussen, but a failure on this magnitude, a campaign of this inadequacy, is inexcusable. The 5th should be one of New Jersey’s most competitive House seats. He has had nearly a year to raise money, nearly a year to figure out the basics of running for Congress. He faced an uphill challenge, but we didn’t expect he would take out a shovel and dig an even deeper hole.

Out of the many candidates who have dissapointed Democrats and activists in the 5th before, Gussen may be the worst. Partially because there was a real opportunity wasted.


At the Debate

Cross posted from www.retiregarrrett.com

My apologies to all for missing the Sunday debate between Congressman Scott Garrett and challenger Adam Gussen.  Family responsibilities made my attendance impossible.  Fortunately, I’ve been able to get a good idea as to what took place from friends in attendance and from reading reports from the news agencies covering the event.

Here’s something that jumped out at me from Phillip Molnar at The Express Times (Lehigh Valley):

Garrett said small businesses needed “certainty” in health care laws, financial markets and the tax code before they could hire new people. He said Congress needed to repeal and reform parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial legislation and reform the Affordable Care Act.

“Provide certainty in the marketplace and people will have the optimism going forward in the economy in hiring and that will be good for the country and New Jersey and the 5th Congressional District,” Garrett said.

Why Adam Gussen Says He Can Win the 5th

Democrat Teaneck Councilman and Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen running for Congress in the 5th CD exudes confidence, “We are excited. We have a compelling story and the ability to win.” He is on a full-time leave of absence from his corporate job. He has been criscrossing the large 5-county district, and doing a lot of walking as attested to by the soles of his shoes. Fundraising has been difficult, so he has not implemented expensive mailings, but has instead generated some 300,000 robo calls.

He has a tough race against incumbent Republican arch-conservative Scott Garrett who has been in office almost ten years and has held winning margins ranging from 55% to 65% in past elections. What is known as the Romney/Ryan Budget Plan, as Gussen points out, is really the Ryan/Garrett Plan. Garrett’s pandering to financial institutions is off the charts and his social views are antediluvian. Enough said. If you want to know more visit Retire Garrett.

Nonetheless Gussen is confident he is within striking distance because the race is more to the Democratic candidate’s advantage this year. Prior to last year’s redistricting the 5th CD was about 60% Republican and 40% Democrat, whereas now it is about 52% Republican and 48% Democrat, more favorable than most other Republican districts. He is running on the same ballot as President Obama and Senator Menendez who are popular and will assure more turn-out than in a non-presidential year. He also points to the Bergen County Republican party which is experiencing problems including those most recently of Assemblyman Robert Schroeder.

Gussen focuses on how the district has changed and how it advantages him:  

“After redistricting, the new 5th district has gained important democratic towns such as Hackensack, Fair Lawn and Teaneck making this a very competitive district. The Democratic turnout in the most Democratic towns in the district is between 80% and 90%. President Obama lost to Sen. McCain by 9,000 votes across the Sussex county portion of the new district. He also lost by 8,000 votes in the Warren County portion of the district. However, President Obama won the City of Hackensack (a new town in the district) by over 9,000 votes and he also won the town of Teaneck (also a new town in the district) by over 8,000, wiping out the difference in the western portion of the district.

Once we add all the votes for the congressional candidates in 2008 in the towns of the new district and we add new communities, Congressman Scott Garrett is only favored to win by as few as 8,000 votes. A far smaller margin than Congressman Garrett won in 2008 over Congressional Candidate Dennis Shulman.”


The key to the race is Bergen County where about 70% of the voters and 90% of the Democrats reside. The Democratic Committee of Bergen County, with much less money than it used to have, provides Gussen with office space and in-kind services.

See below the fold how Gussen analyzes Bergen County, his finances, issues, and an upcoming debate.


Not The Way Our Democracy Should Work

As we all know our gerrymandering and redistricting process inhibits competition and rewards the status quo. Incumbents have a huge advantage. Only in two of twelve NJ districts are there serious challengers: CD 3 with Shelley Adler (D) vying for Jon Runyan’s (R) seat and in CD 7 with Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D) vying for Leonard Lance’s (R) seat. Most districts are protected as either specifically Republican or Democratic turf. This year in the two districts where there is no incumbent the turf is already strongly Democratic: CD 9 where Bill Pascrell (D) (incumbent in the old CD 8) is favored over Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (R) and CD 10 where Freeholder/Councilman Donald Payne, Jr. (D) is favored over Bayonne resident Brian Kelemen (R).  

The problem can best be illustrated by the finances of individual campaigns. After the primaries and as of June 30, eight Republican and Democratic candidates reported to the Federal Elections Committee (FEC) cash on hand of less than $25,000 – a bare minimum with which to launch a congressional campaign. None are incumbents and all face a steep climb:

          Candidate                      Cash on hand  

CD 1   Gregory Horton (R)        $1,173

CD 2   Cassandra Shober (D)    $8,827

CD 4   Brian Froelich (D)           $11,213

CD 5   Adam Gussen (D)           $0

CD 6   Anna Little (R)               $-11,321

CD 8   Mark Karczewski (R)       $0

CD 10 Brian Kelemen (R)         $0

CD 11 John Arvanites (D)         $14,858

We cannot take any race for granted. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” Sheldon Adelson and his wife, for example, recently contributed $500,000 to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (R) in CD 9. Surprises do occur, and actions of candidates and their supporters make a difference. However, given our system, the above eight candidates have little money and few chances. The reasons are many and ugly, but it’s too bad and not the way our democracy should work.

There are organizations working to change this failing system which follows federal regulations but varies state by state in implementation. Common Cause believes redistricting should level the political playing field, not tilt it toward any party or office holder. For more information see H.R. 590: Redistricting Reform Act of 2011 and Ideas for Changes in New Jersey. Unfortunately for now, as the infamous Donald Rumsfeld might have said, “You go to the ballot box with the system you have, not the system you might want or wish to have at a later time.” So it’s up to us to make the best of it and make a difference.

Interview With Jason Castle (CD 5)

In the Dem. primary Jason Castle received 6,274 votes and  Adam Gussen 9,842 votes, and in the Rep. primary Scott Garrett received 24,055 votes.

How do you feel after the primary?

No regrets, the movement was important. It is essential to provide a better choice for CD 5 residents. Meeting people and going down that path was worthwhile.

Have you talked with Adam Gussen?

Primary night I met with Adam Gussen at Rep. Rothman’s hotel where  he asked me for my support. My first concern is to get President Obama re-elected. I feel that Adam has an uphill battle, and he can help himself if he works to get the President elected. Gussen has to build a real campaign first. You can only help those who want to help themselves.  

What went well and not so well?

For a first effort I was pleased with getting 35% of the vote, endorsements, and winning in Sussex, Warren, Teaneck and Westwood. Anywhere I went, where people could meet me and I could establish gotv, the movement started quickly and I was able to do well. I started out handicapped: no previous elective office, no experience with Bergen County politics, campaign manager unfamiliar with the terrain, not being a CD 5 resident, and not having much money. In the end not getting the party line hurt; not having enough time nor money to explain to people that neither Rothman nor Pascrell were the standard-bearers in CD 5 (so many people were unaware of the changes brought about by redistricting); and so much attention in Bergen and Passaic on the Pascrell/Rothman race. With more funds I would have mailed literature.

How about problems with the Democratic Committee of Bergen County (DCBC) which carolh documented in Blue Jersey?

I got no help there; it was frustrating – a lesson learned. As a young guy passionate about helping the community I was disheartened that the DCBC was not more supportive. They made clear initially they were going to endorse Jim McQueeny regardless, but then he dropped out. Afterward following weeks of requests there were delays in getting the DCBC Committee member list which I finally received three days before the deadline, and the list did not have phone numbers. I asked for an extension to get the required signatures but it was denied. I had the signatures prepared on the day of the deadline, but not yet notarized and was told that dropping them off the next day would be OK. I dropped them off but later was told I did not meet the deadline and would not be included in the DCBC committee vote.  

Have you found a place to live in Teaneck?

We have been looking and Sunday we saw three places. I and my wife are about to make a decision with a plan to move by July 1.

Will you get involved in local politics and run again for Congress?

Five years ago I was not interested in politics. I am now, but Obama is the priority. I definitely want to stay in touch and active locally. More broadly issues remain and cannot die, and our dedication cannot subside. Issues of unemployment, education, taxes and overseas matters are important. If Scott Garrett wins the upcoming election I wholeheartedly want to run against him. Two years down the road with time to talk to constituents, to show how I differ from Garrett and with redistricting changes clearer to everyone, I would have a better chance. If Adam wins the upcoming election and represents the district well he will have achieved the key goal of bringing representation to the fifth district which better meets the people’s needs.

How the BCDC failed Bergen Democrats

Below is an exact timeline of the chain of events that led to the BCDC effectively preventing a fair and open convention where the Committee members of the 5th would have had an actual choice between Adam Gussen and Jastle Castle:

Primaries: All Sorts Of Dogs In This Fight

With so many primaries tomorrow you may not have a “dog in the fight” in most cases. However, comparisons to “man’s best friend” is one way to view individual candidates. Below are somewhat biased comments on competitive primaries and a link to what NJ Spotlight says about each race. Don’t forget to vote or the candidate you get may be a dog.  

CD 5: Parts of Bergen, Sussex, Warren, and Passaic Counties

Jason Castle – Underdog and Working Dog: Democrat, newcomer, Marine Veteran, low-funded but has “wind in his sails.”  

Adam Gussen – Non-Working Dog: Democrat, Teaneck Deputy Mayor, has not reported receiving any campaign contributions and appears reliant on the Bergen party committee to turn out the vote for him.

Diane Sare – Pariah Dog: Larouche Democrat, whose call for President Obama’s impeachment makes her anathema to most Democrats.  

Scott Garrett – Guard Dog: Republican incumbent, super-funded, protecting the constitution, the wealthy, social values and the Great American Conservative Way, and has his own inconsequential primary.

CD 7: Parts of Essex, Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset and Union Counties

Leonard Lance – Pet Dog: Republican incumbent, who seeks love from everyone, but veers to the right, well-funded, and ahead.  

David Larsen – Attack Dog: Chairman of a conservative advocacy group, veering further to the right, snapping at Lance’s heels with support from two large Tea Party organizations and New Jersey Right-to-Life.

CD 9; Parts of Bergen, Hudson and Passaic Counties

Bill Pascrell – Uber Dog: Democrat, from Passaic, has raised mucho dinero, has support of Bill Clinton, endorsed by the Record and a “working man’s” Democrat.

Steve Rothman – Uber Dog: Democrat, from Bergen, has raised mucho dinero, has support from Obama camp, and a champion for women’s and gay rights.  

CD 10: Parts of Essex, Hudson and Union Counties

Ron Rice, Jr. – Working Dog: Democrat, Newark West Ward Councilman, hardworking campaigner and councilman, has national and local endorsement of the Star Ledger, DFA, unions, Dick Codey, broad swath of progressives, and more.

Don Payne, Jr. – Designer Dog: Democrat, Newark Council President, an empty vessel with his opinions and activities guided by staff, well funded, legacy candidate, party-supported in Essex, and many national and local endorsements.

Nia Gill – Feisty Dog: Montclair Democrat, endorsed by Sen. Weinberg, speaking out for women, but running only in the regular, not special, primary.

Wayne Smith – Underdog: Democrat, Mayor of Irvington, low-funded and not a big player in this hotly contested race.

LD 16 (Assembly): Parts of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset Counties

Marie Corfield – Feisty, Working Dog: Democrat, School Teacher, unafraid to stand up against Governor Christie, with strong NJEA support, endorsed by Senate Majority Leader Weinberg and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and has the party line in Somerset, Hunterdon and Middlesex counties.  

Sue Nemeth – Possible Underdog: Democrat, former Princeton Deputy Mayor and hoping for strong support in the Princetons and South Brunswick.  

U .S. Senate: Statewide

Joe Kyrillos – Uberdog: Republican, State Senator (Monmouth), not well known by New Jerseyans, but well funded for the primary where he has Christie’s and broad party support. He is running against lowly underdogs Bader Qarmout, David-Douglas Brown and Joe “Rudy” Rullo. He is an underdog and underfunded in the November race against U. S. Senator Robert Menendez who faces no primary.