Tag Archive: Adam Gussen

Jason Castle Has Wind In His Sails

In Bergen County where many Democrats rage against the machine, Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen is  the CD 5 machine candidate for the House, and Jason Castle is not. Gussen has been on the Teaneck Council for six  years, but the Bergen Record has endorsed charismatic newcomer Castle as the person who “offers the party the best chance for an upset in November.” Gussen has not reported receiving any donations to the FEC, but Castle has reported both donations and his own personal loan. Gussen has created no website to reach out to potential voters nor an active facebook page (his last entry was May 14), whereas Castle has used both well. Gussen backed out of the initial CD debate, but Castle joined it. If Gussen has  done much retail campaigning, he has not told us where or when, but Castle has been all over the four-county CD. Is Gussen acting like someone who wants to represent 745,000 people? Does he care? Is he really running?

Bergen County is home for more than 70% of the registered voters in CD 5. Saturday at a Teaneck park event for “Moms and kids for Castle” and at Castle’s headquarters (below Senator Weinberg’s office), there was a sense of energy, enthusiasm and momentum. At the headquarters people were on the phones, canvassers were coming in and out, supporters were visiting and volunteers were handing out literature. Castle makes his key positions publicly available and easily accessible, whereas Gussen does not.  

Castle has wind in his sails. He drew the first ballot line in Essex and has Democratic committee backing in Sussex and Warren. Larouche Democrat candidate Diane Sare, who has compared Obama to Hitler and called for the President’s impeachment, has her small niche. Gussen has the Bergen machine. He became the “accidental party candidate” or last “person standing” as a succession of other candidates toyed with the idea of running, but then bowed out. However, it is the progressive Castle who has served the party best by launching an aggressive campaign and building momentum and enthusiasm. Castle was initially considered to be running “against all odds,” but his odds are strengthening. In a world where turnout rules, to succeed he now needs all the help possible to get out the vote. To volunteer go here.

Primary Elections Are Upon Us: Get Off Your Duff And Get Out The Vote

In 11 days, on June 5, over 5 million NJ voters will be eligible to cast ballots in the primaries. How many will show up at the polls? Will enough people who support your candidate vote? Can you help generate turnout? Below are the votes cast in recent NJ primary House races, and the other federal races at the time:


2004     333,416   Presidential

2006     329,057   Senate

2008     449,125   Senate (Presidential primary held separately earlier)

2010     413,138   none

With such lousy turnout (below 10%), it is no surprise when the victor is the candidate who got his/her people to the polls. Achieving strong turnout is all the more important in close races. Even the underdog can upset the leader with volunteers and a good ground game, and this year there are underdogs who need our help. Count on GOTV to make the difference between losers and winners in several races. Endorsements, money and local party support all help, but now is when canvassing, phoning, dropping off literature, delivering signage, talking to neighbors, and union engagement can make the key difference. Turnout will still be disappointing and has to be actively solicited, but volunteering for GOTV should start this weekend if you are not already involved.

Updated primary candidate financial data during the current election cycle through May 16 is starting to appear at the FEC website. The amount spent through May 16 appears in parentheses next to the candidate’s name. Some reports are not yet available, but should be shortly.

In CD 9 there are two Democratic candidates: Representatives Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman ($1,602,442) – well known, experienced and progressive. They have come out with their their campaign coffers overflowing and their guns blazing. The smoke is everywhere, although some of it is smoke and mirrors. With emotions high, the shoot-out is likely to result in a big turnout. Because of the closeness of the race GOTV will make the difference.

In CD 5 resentment against Republican conservative incumbent Scott Garrett ($531,961) on the part of newly reapportioned Democrats in the district as well as frustrated long-time residents will fuel some voter turnout. However, the Bergen County Democratic anointed candidate Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen generates little enthusiasm and has conducted a lackadaisical campaign. His competitor Marine veteran Jason Castle has proven more energetic, charismatic and progressive, but is new to the district and has been hobbled with a shoestring budget. For Castle to take the day, GOTV is essential.  

In CD 10 where there are four main candidates seeking to inherit the mantle of Donald Payne, Sr., the endorsements, party machine machinations, and candidate backroom alliances have seemed like a whirling dervish – high speed, unending, and enough to make us dizzy. Newark Council President Donald Payne, Jr. ($81,915) has the edge but not the enthusiasm of the electorate which his father enjoyed. Senator Nia Gill ($70,293) has her supporters, particularly outside of Newark. West Ward Councilman Ron Rice, Jr. has the opportunity to build on an enthusiastic cadre of district-wide progressives and Newark residents. Donald Payne, Jr. has recently become more active with a professional campaign staff and growing coffers, but he still lacks the popular support which Ron Rice might generate. At this point volunteering for GOTV is crucial.

In LD 16 Blue Jersey diarist, YouTube sensation and art teacher Marie Corfield faces former Princeton Twp. Deputy Mayor Sue Nemeth. Corfield has party endorsement in three counties, whereas Nemeth’s support is based in the Princetons. In this Assembly race there is substantially less campaign money for GOTV, and within LD 16 there are no Congressional Democratic primary contests to attract voters to the polls. All the more reason to volunteer to get out the vote.  

Candidate Suppression in Bergen (Again)

The other night I was watching MSNBC and I was struck watching Civil Rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis use all his considerable credibility and emotional weight to shame a fellow Republican into withdrawing an amendment from the floor that would have suppressed voting rights.

I felt that old familiar anger rise up in me.  I feel it whenever I see yet another blatant attack on voting rights.  It reminds me of when someone tried to do it to me.  When I was a duly elected County Committee member and I was almost prevented from casting a vote for NJ Asssembly candidate Valerie Vaineiri Huttle by a Bergen County Committee Staffer who dared challenge me.  I was angry because that Republican Senator tried to once again steal another election from thousands upon thousands of US citizens.

Thankfully, John Lewis reminded that Senator that he knew friends who had DIED trying to vote. He had  his own blood spilled himself.  That shamed the would-be Republican election thief into withdrawing his abomination of an amendment.  I remember how angry I was that someone had tried to steal my vote away from me.  I remembered how I felt knowing that Elizabeth Cady Stanton had lived in my town of Tenafly and had tried to vote right there in the center of my town.  I remembered how much that very anger drove me to become a blogger right here on Blue Jersey.  I fought that day in Hackensack, I got there first in line and stayed to be a witness, and even shouted to get not only my vote counted, but the votes counted of all the African American County Committee members in Teaneck  – who I watched being challenged the minute they walked in the door.  Our uproar prevented another stolen election.  That is how the BCDO used to operate – which is why they changed the name to BCDC in the hopes folks would forget that although they changed the Captain – the same crew is still running the ship.

I am extremely unhappy to report that the reason I feel that old familiar anger boiling up inside me today is that the BCDC apparently actively prevented candidate Jason Castle from participating in the Bergen County Committee Convention.  I received a letter today that was sent to the Chairman Lou Stellato and the entire CD5 membership of the County Committee that describes the underhanded way in which the nomination was just handed to FOJ (Friend of Joe) Adam Gussen of Teaneck.  

I will include the text of it here:  

For Progressives: Two Key Primaries

The House primaries are just four weeks away. For progressive Democrats there are two primaries where our actions now might particularly affect the key outcome. The Cook Redistricting Forecast for House elections in NJ is a split, with six seats for Democrats and six for Republicans. The outcome of the primaries and later elections in many cases is easily predicted, with incumbency, safe redistricted districts, and weakly contested races as key indicators. However, the Cook Report considers CD 5 as only “likely Republican: not competitive now but has the potential to be engaged.” There progressive Democrat Jason Castle and Blue Dog Democrat Adam Gussen are in a primary arrayed against ultra conservative incumbent Republican Scott Garret. The other key race is CD 10 where “legacy candidate” Donald Payne, a favorite of the Essex County Democratic machine who hides from the public, is fiercely contested by the progressive Councilman Ron Rice and Senator Nia Gill.  These are two cases where getting involved now could make a difference.

In CD 9 where emotions run high and individuals debate the merits of Rep. Steve Rothman and Rep. Bill Pascrell, the key outcome is predictable: a progressive Democrat will take the seat in the election. Although there is no Democratic primary in CD 3, it is not too early to help Democratic Shelley Adler’s campaign against incumbent Republican Jon Runyan. The Cook Report’s projection for Mrs. Adler is even more favorable than that for CD5. It’s forecast is “lean Republican: Competitive, but the Republican has an advantage.” In other House campaigns so far neither the Cook Report nor the Rothenberg Report forecast any upsets, although in CD 7 Democratic Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula (D-17) has launched a campaign against incumbent Republican Leonard Lance. It’s also possible but not probable that the losing Democrat in CD 9 might gain a seat through entering a campaign in a neighboring district.

In CD 5 the need for volunteers and donations is particularly acute. Earlier in the year several potentially strong candidates decided not to run. Republican incumbent Rep. Scott Garrett has $1.9 million in Cash on Hand, an almost ten-year incumbency, and the ability to disguise rabildly conservative proclivities. Previously unknown, but charismatic and progressive Jason Castle has been the most active of the two Democratic challengers via the internet and public appearances. However, he operates on a shoestring with $4,000 in Cash on Hand as of March 31. Teaneck Deputy Mayor Gussen has made no financial filing, he backed out at the last moment from a recent debate with Jason Castle and shows little engagement either publicly or through the internet. However, he has the important support of Bergen County Democratic Committee.

In CD 10 the question is not whether a Democrat will ultimately be elected, but whether the Democrat will be a progressive, such as Newark Councilman Ronald C. Rice, Jr. and Senator Nia Gill (D-Montclair) or legacy candidate Don Payne Jr. who during his time on the Newark Council and Essex Board of Freeholders has shown little interest in progressive issues. The candidates are attracting attention beyond their borders with new endorsements and alliances announced almost daily. Ron Rice Jr., was just endorsed by Democracy for America. Nia Gill was endorsed last week by two prominent women’s groups, plus Sen. Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg. Donald Payne, Jr. just received an endorsement from Senator Robert Menendez whose support runs against his local Hudson County Democratic Committee but in favor of the Essex County counterpart.

In CD 10 where the campaign was brought about by the somewhat sudden demise of Representative Donald Payne, Sr., the candidates started with little money to propel their efforts. Through March 31 in terms of Cash on Hand, Gill reported $34,000 and Rice reported $10,000.  Neither Payne, Jr. nor Irvington Mayor Wayne Smith filed a financial report with the FEC. However, it appears that Don Payne, Jr., may soon lead the pack financially. Don Payne, Sr, left $1.4 million in his campaign fund and its treasurer has been returning contributions to the donors and urging them to resubmit the check to Don Payne Jr.’s campaign. Against the Essex machine and a likely well financed, but “no appearances” Don Payne, a candidate like Ron Rice, who spent sunday in Hudson and Union Counties, particularly needs financial and volunteer support.

No contest should be taken for granted. Nonetheless, progressive Democrats between now and June 5 have an opportunity to affect key outcomes, especially in CD 5 and CD 10. As the lottery ads say, “You have to be in it to win it.” That includes voting, volunteering, donating and helping anyway you can.

Jason Castle Asks Adam Gussen for a Debate and Gussen Responds

Following Wednesday’s 5th CD debate for which candidate Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen withdrew his participation at the last moment, Jason Castle issued an Open Letter to Mr. Gussen, part of which is reproduced below:

“I was disappointed that you were unable to attend the scheduled Bergen Grassroots Forum last night. To make up for this, I hope that you will accept my invitation for another open debate.”

“I do not want you to be denied the opportunity to present your case to the voters of the 5th District. More importantly, I do not want the voters of the 5th District to be denied the opportunity to hear your case. As such, I am happy to organize, or find an acceptable third party to organize, a second debate. I hope you will take this opportunity for us both to stand side-by-side and clearly express and contrast our visions. I look forward to hearing from you.”

I spoke with Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen this morning. He said he had not yet received Castle’s open letter so I emailed it to him. He mentioned that he was very disappointed not be able to attend Wednesday’s forum and he hoped there would be another opportunity to debate. He reinforced his position saying “Before the primary I absolutely want to engage in a debate, as scheduling allows.” When asked if he anticipated a scheduling problem, he said “I hope not.” He indicated he spoke last night to the Fair Lawn Democratic organization.  

A Recap from the Dais

promoted by Rosi

cross posted from http://retiregarrett.com

Last evening, Bergen Grassroots and the Ethical Cultural Society of Bergen County hosted a debate for the candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 5th District.  The two candidates in attendance were Jason Castle and LaRouche Democrat Diane Sare.   The third candidate, Adam Gussen was not in attendance.  I was the “moderator” of the debate.  I say “moderator” because I did not ask the questions – in fact I only posed a single question to the candidates.  Rather it was my challenge to call on members of the audience so that they could ask their questions.  Why I make this distinction will become evident as I recap the events of the evening.

Both candidates had two minutes for opening remarks.  I’ve seen both of these candidates speak on several occasions and they both remained true to form.   Castle spoke about his military experience and that for him running for Congress was a natural extension of his desire to serve the country.  Sare then made her opening remarks.  She said that she was running to see some very specific things done in Washington.  She called for the restoration of Glass-Steagall which was repealed in 1999 (Glass-Steagall was legislation passed during the Great Depression which created a separation between investment and commercial banks).  She further called for the impeachment of President Obama for going to war in Libya without Congressional authorization and the implementation of NAWAPA – an idea conceived in the 1950′s to would bring water down from Alaska to the “lower 48.”

Calling Adam Gussen: Where Are You?

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Three candidates for Congress in the 5th CD agreed to participate in tonight’s event sponsored by Bergen Grassroots at Teaneck’s Ethical Culture Society: Marine veteran Jason Castle, Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen, and LaRouche Democrat Diane Sare. Then yesterday Adam Gussen abruptly backed out of the forum. Two calls to his office asking why he will not attend have received no response.

NortherJersey.com reports, Gussen said he was notified last minute of a work meeting. Gussen said he had no choice. “I’m not ducking or dodging anyone.” Paul Eisenman, Chair of Bergen Grassroots, sponsor of the event, said this morning Gussen’s explanation “strains credulity.” Upon learning yesterday that Gussen said he would not attend, Eisenman sent him an email saying, “Since you are presenting this as an occasion that ‘would jeopardize my ability to provide for my family,’ I now conclude that your employment can make demands upon your time on a weekday at about 7:30pm and you only get to know about that demand 36 hours in advance of the occasion. I’ll report that to our audience tomorrow evening. Our many Teaneck members will undoubtedly not be surprised by this behavior.” And while providing for one’s family is all-important, one wonders whether seeking the office of Congressman would not be sufficient for being excused from one night’s work.  

Jason  Castle responded to the sudden withdrawal, saying, “This primary is an opportunity for voters to meet the candidates, learn about the issues, and decide who will be the strongest candidate in November and the best advocate in Congress. To win this district, our nominee will need the dedication to spread the message, meet the voters and present a clear contrast with Scott Garrett when they debate.”  

While Jason Castle earned the Democratic Party Line in Sussex and Warren Counties, Adam Gussen won the uncontested Bergen County line which represents the majority of voters. Nonetheless, Adam Gussen’s candidacy has no official website nor active facebook page and has filed no financial report with the Federal Election Commission. Also with little apparent campaigning, Gussen is relying perhaps on the Democratic Committee of Bergen County’s endorsement and their efforts to carry the day for him.

Another funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Paul Eisenman when planning the event initially invited the two commonly known candidates – Jason Castle and Adam Gussen – and he was unaware of Diane Sare’s candidacy. Her LaRouche supporters vociferously demanded that Sare be included in forum. Eisenman said, “It’s a distraction to include her. How on earth can a person who believes President Obama is a clone of Adolph Hitler seek a position on the same ballot with Obama? Nonetheless, as a worshipper of Voltaire’s philosophy, I have no recourse but to welcome her as an equal to the forum.”

In a further comment Castle added, “I hope and expect there will be a time for Adam and I to stand next to each other and each present our case for the honor and responsibility of this nomination.”  Alas, such will not be the case tonight, where there will be an empty seat on the podium. For further information on the event go here, although it may not be updated to reflect the absence of candidate Gussen.  

Jason Castle (CD5): Spirited, Gutsy and Lucky

Jason Castle who served in the Marines and is now running for Congress in the 5th CD, had a little help from Lady Luck on Friday. He is running in the primary against Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen who gained the endorsement of the Democratic Committee of Bergen County (DCBC), led by Lou Stellato, after Castle did not register in time to compete for the endorsement.  Nonetheless, in a time-honored ritual on Friday the Bergen County Clerk shook a box over his head and pulled out a slip that read “Bergen County Democrats 2012 (BCD 2012)”. And thus Castle gained the first line on the Bergen ballot, and the DCBC picked up the next line.

Following redistricting more of Bergen County is now in the 9th CD, with the remainder in  the 5th CD. BCD 2012 consists of a slate with Rep. Bill Pascrell (running in the 9th CD), two Bergen County Freeholders, and Jason Castle (running in the 5th CD). It’s hard to say how much value there is to Pascrell in getting the first line in a county which has always supported his competitor Representative Steve Rothman with a high vote count. And the second line, where Rep. Rothman appears as the CD 9 candidate, will also include President Obama and U. S. Senator Menendez.  

Nonetheless, it should help 3930 year old Jason Castle who is building a coalition of community leaders, party organizers and active citizens across the district in his campaign against the moderate/conservative Gussen. Castle’s recent endorsements include Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37) and NFL Hall of Famer Harry Carson. Castle already has the party line for Warren and Sussex County. He also has an active website and facebook page, whereas Gussen has neither. Castle’s campaign staff has confirmed he filed a current quarterly report with the Federal Election Committee although it’s not yet on the website. It’s unclear whether Gussen has likewise filed the report, but his campaign activities appear so far to be insipid.

There will be a debate between the two candidates at Ethical Culture Society in Teaneck next Wednesday at 7:30 sponsored by Bergen Grassroots. (Space can be reserved by calling 201-692-9600 or paul@bergengrassroots.org.) Curiously most campaign gatherings for CD 5 in Teaneck take place in the area of CD 9 as the CD 5 area is amost exclusively residential.  

The recent activities on the part of Castle place him several steps closer to success in the primary. There remain many steps and a leap for him to be victorious in the November election, but he is showing himself to be spirited, gutsy and lucky.  

Meet Jason Paul Castle – The Cavalry has Arrived in the 5th

promoted by Rosi

(cross posted at Daily Kos)  

Now I know how folks felt the first time they met the young Barack Obama. The young Marine I met last Wednesday and spoke with for over 2 hours is destined for big things.  At 30 years old, with two little girls aged 3 and 1 and lovely wife named Tara, who teaches elementary school, this Iraq war veteran and technology expert, has a winning smile, polite military bearing and a desire to serve his country.  You can’t help but like Jason Paul Castle immediately.

It is rare to get a chance to speak one on one and at length, with a candidate for Congress. But I was granted the opportunity in Teaneck last week.  And I was not disappointed.  

It became evident that although Jason Castle looks young – he has seen quite a lot in his 30 years.  Growing up in a single parent home after his mother escaped an abusive situation while he was a toddler, he was given the best education because his mother was determined that he succeed.  During his Junior year at Norwich University military academy in Vermont, he witnessed the World Trade Towers collapsing on TV and in a terrifying moment thought he had lost the mother who had so carefully shepherded him through school, because she was scheduled to be there that very morning.  Thankfully, she was unharmed, but that day made him realize he had to help his country in some way.  He wanted to be a “moral, patriotic, and useful” citizen.  He enlisted immediately in the Marines, graduated top of his class and was selected to serve on Presidential detail at the White House, Pentagon, and in the Silent Drill Platoon for 2 years.  He then was stationed at Camp Lejune, and deployed to Iraq as a ground combat infantryman where he first helped evacuate US nationals from Lebanon and then was sent to Iraq.

We expect better than this from Democrats

“I may not agree with what you say, but I shall defend to my death your right to say it” – Patrick Henry

You may be familiar with that quote, or the one below:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” – The First Amendment to The United States Constitution

These are very basic guiding values in this Country. Free speech – regardless of how popular or unpopular it may be viewed as, not suppressing voices that you don’t agree with. But up in the Fifth Congressional District, at least one Candidate, Adam Gussen, seems to think that “free speech” should be based on an artificial and undefined “filter”.

A bit of backstory for those who aren’t familiar with the Fifth District – as of now, there are three candidates, Gussen (the Deputy Mayor of Teaneck, which is new to the District), Jason Castle, a veteran who did not obtain enough signatures to be put on the Bergen County Democratic ballot, and Diane Sare, a LaRouche Democrat who is running in the primary because the LaRouche Party couldn’t get a separate line on the ballot. But all three are running.

Now, Sare’s views aren’t all that popular with the Democratic establishment, and they may not be all that popular in general – she is calling for the impeachment of Obama but also is looking to restore the Glass-Steagall Act, which has a lot of merit. But I don’t want to discuss her candidacy here, since I don’t know enough about it. I want to discuss the defense of free but objectionable (I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt as objectionable for now regardless of whether it actually is) speech by the Democratic Party – especially those who are running for Federal office.

In the article linked above, it was reported that Gussen said the following about Sare:

“I find the LaRouche platforms and their candidates to be offensive and destructive.

“I think that the Democratic Party, while honoring and giving life to the ideals and concepts of free speech, that there is a reasonable level of filtering that could take place. This is noise that should be filtered out,”

Now, I’m not sure where there is a way to find out exactly where the tipping point is for “reasonable filtering” of free speech. For example, let’s say that Sare is calling for impeachment of Obama, and cites his signing of NDAA, which allowed for the indefinite detainment of US citizens on American soil without trial. Did Gussen think it was ok to call for Bush’s impeachment for that very same thing, but it isn’t ok if it is Obama? What is so destructive and offensive that it can trump the suppression of First Amendment rights – especially by a Congressional Candidate?

Now, this isn’t to say that I am supporting Jason Castle or Diane Sare. But it does set off an alarm that a DEMOCRATIC Congressional Candidate supports the suppression of free speech based on arbitrary adjectives such as “destructive” or “offensive”. Perhaps it is the mere calling for suppression of free speech that is destructive and offensive.