Tag Archive: Senate

QoTD – Syria Edition

“I have spoken with Leader Reid and beginning this Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will debate the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Syria. Senior Administration witnesses will testify before the Committee and the Congress will debate this issue actively, fully, and publicly. It is my view that the use of military force in Syria is justified and necessary given the Assad regime’s reprehensible use of chemical weapons and gross violation of international law. I look forward to sharing these views with my colleagues in the days ahead as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee convenes to take up this vital national security issue.”

– New Jersey’s Senior Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a press release.

An Interview with Senator Menendez

Robert Menendez has represented the Garden State in the U.S. Senate since 2006. He’s now the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, so I started today’s interview with questions about Syria. We also spoke about the NSA’s spying on Americans (5:15), Immigration Reform (8:00), dealing with climate change deniers (10:17), the Keystone Pipeline (13:00), energy independence (16:04), the future of nuclear energy (17:54), voting rights (19:24), and his views about the Democratic Party (21:30). The interview was recorded this afternoon in Camden.

I’m a Progressive. And I Support Cory Booker.

I’m a Progressive. I worked on Rush Holt’s Senate campaign. And I have problems with Cory Booker’s position on several issues, including education and Wall Street finances. But I will work to get Cory Booker elected. I won’t fall for the stunt that some have suggested of voting for Lonegan in false hopes that Booker will be defeated and a more progressive candidate will rise from the ashes next year.

Suppose that Rush Holt had managed to pull off a minor miracle and had defeated Booker last week. Progressives would expect that all Democrats would rally around Holt and work to get him in the Senate. Any movement by more conservative Democrats to elect Lonegan in hopes of getting a machine Democrat elected in 2014 would be greeted by us with scorn. If a Progressive decides to challenge Booker in 2014, I’d probably support him or her, but if Booker prevails (and hasn’t jumped the shark with his coddling of Wall Street), I’d support him at that time.

Part of the success of the Tea Party movement is due to the fact that they have been working on their draconian agenda for decades. They understand that instant gratification is not something that comes easily in politics. If Progressives want to counter the Tea Party movement, we too need to make this a long-term initiative. Defeating or even wounding Booker is counterproductive.

Cory Booker is no Frank Lautenberg, but he’s our nominee nevertheless. We need to work with him to support him on issues with which we agree and lobby him where we think he is on the wrong side. It won’t change him overnight. It may never change his views on issues like education. But if we don’t work with him to show him the correct path, who will?

We can’t criticize the traitors in the Democratic Party who support Chris Christie while at the same time dismiss our Senate candidate. Whether Booker won on style or substance is not an issue. He’s going to be our senator, and we need to help him move in the right direction.

Rush, Frank, and Sheila: Alas…


According to Quinnipiac, Booker leads with 54 percent while U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone placed second with 17 percent from likely voters. U.S. Rep. Rush Holt accounted for 15 percent, ahead of N.J. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver’s five percent.

As for the Republican primary, Steve Lonegan garnered 74 percent of the poll to Alieta Eck’s 10 percent. Thirteen percent remained undecided.

If you combine Pallone’s, Holt’s, and Oliver’s votes, you still don’t get enough to beat Booker. But you do get a credible, serious candidate who could have been a real challenger; a candidate who could have forced New Jersey’s voters (and the press) to look at Booker’s corporatists leanings and actual track record in Newark.

Alas, it was not to be. For myself: I’ve always liked Holt and will vote for him on Tuesday. But I’ve come to admire Pallone; he would have been an excellent Senator. And my respect for Oliver has grown as well – far more than I thought it would have for a woman who is a product of the North Jersey machine.

Any of them would have beaten Lonegan; any would have been a better, more progressive leader for New Jersey than Cory Booker.

What a shame we liberals are once again denied our chance to have a voice. Once Booker wins, that’s it: short of a scandal, he’s in the Senate for as long as he wants.

He’ll be good on many social issues, and I grant you that’s no small thing. He’ll make sure the Supreme Court isn’t filled with rabid, conservative activists (assuming the Dems keep a majority and/or the presidency). He won’t go beating the war drums too loudly. He’ll make some wishy-washy concessions to income inequity; he’ll take away a few outrageous corporate tax deductions and pretend he’s leveling the playing field. Whoo-hoo…

But, in the end, this was yet another wasted opportunity for the left-wing, silenced majority of the Democratic Party. If only two of the three losing challengers had opted to pull out. If only they had thrown their support behind one candidate. If only they had agreed that it was time to do whatever it took to get a proud progressive into the upper chamber as New Jersey’s junior senator.


ICYMI: Senate Democratic Primary Debate

Here is NJTV’s broadcast of tonight’s NJ Democratic Senate Primary debate, moderated by the Mike Schneider, anchor and managing editor of NJTV’s NJ Today, with contributions from Al Doblin, editorial page editor at The Record. It was well-moderated by Schneider, but remarkably poorly-lit at Montclair State University. If you’re reading this just after I posted it, you can also watch the rebroadcast, starting now at 11pm on NJTV’s air.

You’ll have at least one more chance to see the four Democrats together; this Thursday August 8th at 7pm to be broadcast on WBGO 88.3 FM and on News 12 New Jersey. The candidates have just a week more to make their case to you. Primary e-day is next Tuesday, August 13.  

Philadelphia Inquirer Jumps on the Booker Bandwagon

Yesterday, I wrote about the New York Times’ endorsement of Cory Booker in the upcoming Democratic Senate Primary. The other major Jersey-centric out-of-state newspaper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, also endorsed Booker today.

While the Times endorsement mistakenly implies that Booker will be able to leverage his celebrity status to get things done in Washington, the Inquirer article is a bit more reasoned, but their editors’ premises are also dubious.

The Inky’s editors summarize many of Booker’s accomplishments, and on those, the Newark mayor deserves the accolades they gave him. But then, the article continues, “Booker is a moderate who supports school vouchers as well as same-sex marriage.” Yet, the paper (partially owned by education profiteer George Norcross III, a fact that should have been disclosed in the editorial) fails to mention any reason why school vouchers are supposed to be a good thing. And as far as marriage equality is concerned, every Democrat on the ticket supports it, and of the candidates running for the Senate spot, none has done more for marriage equality than the presumptive last-place finisher Sheila Oliver.

The paper gives its requisite compliments to the other three candidates. In describing Rush Holt, they call him “a thoughtful champion of public schools.” Succumbing to the language of the Right, they also describe Holt as a champion of “entitlement programs,” rather than more accurately touting his concern for the poor and middle class.

Like the Times, the corporate ownership of the Inquirer seems to have infiltrated the heretofore independent editorial boards. In both cases, the editors were too timid to go out on a limb and endorse one of the underdogs to whom they gave faint praise. And while Booker would be a good U.S. Senator for New Jersey, Rush Holt and Frank Pallone are more experienced, better qualified and ready to fill Frank Lautenberg’s shoes.

New Pallone web ad: “Chevy”

“New Jersey needs a Senator who drives a Chevy. Let the other guys take the limo.”

                   – Frank Pallone, from the ad

We now have the new Frank Pallone web ad, “Chevy,” further highlighting his history as a ‘regular guy’, and his life a typical Jersey story, the son of a cop who needed student loans to get through college. And a record of achievement in Congress, including ACA, his environmental record, and fighting the Tea Party to protect Social Security and Medicare.

What do you think, Blue Jersey?

Frank Pallone on Up with Steve Kornacki

Frank Pallone was a guest this morning on UP with host Steve Kornacki, who started as a Jersey political reporter. Two videos:

Below: A convo about the spike in superPAC campaign spending, and discussion about how he’s funding his campaign.

Below the fold: Kornacki interviews Pallone on the delay of the employer mandate of the ACA, which the former Chair and now ranking member of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee was a key player in drafting and defending.

Continuing UP’s Jersey-centric weekend, Sunday morning 8am Barbara Buono will be Kornacki’s guest.

Short unscrubbable ad before videos. Just deal with it.

Rush Holt – “Orbit”

If you’ve got a campaign with a lifespan of weeks and not years or months, you can either overwhelm your opponents with campaign spending, or you can try to come up on the outside and use who you are and how supporters feel about you to attract attention.

And Rush Holt is making smart use of video and earned media in his uphill campaign for the U.S. Senate special election primary in (gulp) 41 days. His first was an introductory one – Who is Rush Holt? – took a risk mentioning Booker by name, but it was done with a light touch that had the effect of diminishing Booker without expressly doing so. And it also packed wit and substance on issues into its 2-minute frame.

So, here’s the next one – “Orbit”. Very different, less from Holt and more about him, from other people. One thing Holt has, that other candidates would have a hard time matching, is the strong feelings about him his supporters have. It’s not blind loyalty; it’s about appreciation for his solid progressive record, his personal decency, and the intelligence he brings to Congress, particularly since Congress has so many nitwits.

This is is called “Orbit”. What do you think, Blue Jersey?