Tag Archive: Teresa Ruiz

Women in New Jersey’s Legislature (w/Poll)

When 2007 began, women held just 23 of the 120 seats in the New Jersey Legislature. That’s only 7 women in the Senate out of 40, and only 16 Assemblywomen out of 80. Of those 23 female legislators, 16 were Democrats, including 5 of the 7 Senators.

What a difference a day week year can make. Turns out, my predictions last week kinda sorta came true, with the recent unpleasantness producing two brand new Assemblywomen, Elease Evans (LD-35) and Mila Jasey (LD-27), and a very likely winner this fall added to the 38th District ballot, Connie Wagner.

Add them to primary winners earlier this year – likely future Senators Dana Redd (LD-5), Teresa Ruiz (LD-29), and Sandra Cunningham (LD-31); and likely future Assemblywomen Cleopatra Tucker (LD-28), Grace Spencer (LD-29) and Caridad Rodriguez (LD-33), and suddenly, the Legislature is starting to feel a little more estrogenated. Without a single upset in November, we’re already looking at a record 10 women in the Senate (8 of them Democrats), and a record 21 women in the Assembly (16 of them Democrats).

That’s right – there will be more Democratic women in the legislature next year than there are women total there now. Historic, yes. But, still nowhere near where we ought to be.

Of course, there’s still more story to tell, because it wouldn’t be election season if there weren’t a cool upset or two brewing. With a record number of women challenging Republicans all over the state, how many more women do you think can land in the legislature next year?

*Take the poll* on the flip (and share the reasons for your votes in the comments):

What’s Bill Payne’s Damage?

It’s getting uglier all the time up in the 29th in the race to replace Sharpe James.  Teresa Ruiz is the Democratic candidate but Assemblyman Bill Payne’s independent bid for the seat is proving to be a talentless and unnecessary distraction.

The latest?

According to Wally at PoliticsNJ, it’s the venerable race card.  Apparently Payne’s in a tizzy that DSC chief Joe Cryan is calling for Sharpe James and Wayne Bryant to step down.  (Full disclosure: we couldn’t agree more.)

Now Payne is whining that Cryan’s move was unfair and insulting to blacks.  Which has my mind reeling especially since 1) Payne recently abandoned the Dem caucus to follow his own ego and 2) the heiresses apparent for James’ and Bryant’s seats are a Latina and an African American.

Politics being politics, anything is game.  Trust me, I get that. 

The real reason I find Payne’s race-baiting temper tantrum so trifiling is because it’s such an about face from his behavior at a Statehouse bill signing a few weeks ago.  Corzine had called a press conference to sign the budget with Senate and Assembly leaders in tow and Payne was on hand as well behaving like a loyal yes man, clamoring for photos alongside his erstwhile colleagues, nodding approvingly like a lovable Dutch uncle.

Fast forward a month, and Payne is obviously feeling marginalized and acting out accordingly.  Which is a real drag to watch.  (Note to Payne: the Race Card is soooo 90’s)

Consider this a 29th legislative district open thread.  What’s Ruiz’ deal?  Who is the GOP candidate?  Please weigh in, curious (south Jersey) minds want to know!!!

See also: William Payne Forges Independent “Up with Racism and Corruption” Ticket

William Payne Forges Independent “Up with Racism and Corruption” Ticket

Assemblyman William Payne is missing his sugar-daddy Sharpe James so much that he has created his own independent “Up with Racism, Up with Corruption” ticket.  So far, he’s the only asshat to sign onto it.

Payne, whose name is like tarnished gold in Essex County, is miffed that he was dumped from the Democratic slate when they decided that they would try some democracy.  But he will not go softly into that good night – no, he’s going to go screaming and crying like a little girl whose lollipop was stolen.

Join me after the flip.

Come 2008, in the new State Senate, Minority Women outnumber Minority Men in Trenton.

Diversity has come slowly and painstakingly to the New Jersey state legislature, no doubt, a legislative body that often serves as a pipeline to NJ’s congressional delegation.  Some with little conscience for social justice might say “we” are post-race or post-gender and thus shouldn’t even bother with a diary about this kind of thing, but we progressives know better, especially in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision that, for all practical purposes, overturns the 1954 Brown decision.

In the state senate, the new gender breakdown among the minority membership of the upper chamber will be radically altered, and not just the minimum 4-3 split.  It could likely be an even more significant 5-2.  It would be yet another sign of the turnover this election cycle, and points to one more way the dynamic in the Statehouse will be different come January ’08.

Garden State Equality’s 2007 primary endorsements

New Jersey rarely sees seriously contested primaries for the state legislature.  The June 5th Democratic primaries in Essex and Hudson counties, in which Garden State Equality presents its endorsements below, are the exception. 

Some explanation is in order on this odd political year in Essex and Hudson.  Several legislative candidates long allied with one another — candidates who previously ran together on the same column on the ballot — are running against each other in different columns.  The new alliances emanate from behind-the-scenes political wars that have little to do with issues, and much to do with turf and perceived slights.  The alliances are asking organizations like Garden State Equality to endorse their entire columns or not at all.

We at Garden State Equality reject that approach, and so should you.  We endorse the candidates best on our issues, regardless of column.  Imagine that.

Garden State Equality’s endorsements are based on the records of, and interviews with, the candidates. 

Some of our endorsed candidates are running on the local party-endorsed column.  Some of our endorsed candidates are not running on the local party-endorsed column.  If you are a Democratic voter in Essex or Hudson, or anywhere else in New Jersey for that matter, you are always free to vote for candidates across columns. 

All of Garden State Equality’s endorsed candidates meet the following criteria:  (a)  They would vote for marriage equality.  (b)  They would vote for strengthening the state’s hate crimes law, including adding hate crimes based on a victim’s gender identity or expression.  (c)  They would vote for a comprehensive syringe exchange program that will save the lives of many people with HIV/AIDS.  (d)  If the candidate currently serves in the legislature, he or she must have voted “yes” on the civil unions law — candidates who abstained or voted no would certainly not vote for marriage equality.  (e)  If the candidate currently serves in the legislature, he or she must have voted “yes” on the transgender equality law.

We remind you that in New Jersey, each legislative district is represented by one state Senator and two Assembly members.  Thus you can vote for one Senate candidate and one or two candidates for Assembly.

Note that if you live in District 27 in Essex, encompassing part of Newark and all of Caldwell, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Livingston, Maplewood, North Caldwell, Orange, Roseland, South Orange, West Caldwell and West Orange, the incumbents face no primary on June 5th.  They are Senator Dick Codey, Assemblyman John McKeon and Assemblyman Mims Hackett, all splendid champions of equality whom we strongly support for reelection in November.


District 28, Essex (Part of Newark, all of Belleville, Bloomfield and Irvington):  Cleopatra Tucker for Assembly.

For the Assembly, Garden State Equality endorses Cleopatra Tucker.  She runs the Donald K. Tucker Centre in Newark, a comprehensive community center for both children and senior citizens that has done so much to lift up so many throughout the city.  The Centre is named after Cleo’s husband, the late Assemblyman Donald K. Tucker.  Cleo is an impressive grassroots activist in her own right who has the support of our allies, Mayor Cory Booker and city councilwoman Dana Rone.

Garden State Equality stops just short of an endorsement of, but confers “preferred candidate” status on, Bilal Beasley for state Senate and Ralph Caputo for Assembly.  They said they personally support marriage equality but have not made up their minds on legislation yet.  This makes them preferable to the incumbents, particularly Senator Ron Rice, who abstained on civil unions and is the state legislature’s leading opponent of syringe exchange. 

District 29, Essex/Union (Part of Newark, all of Hillside):  Teresa Ruiz for state Senate.  Wilfredo Caraballo for Assembly.  L. Grace Spencer for Assembly.

Garden State Equality’s focus in this district is the reelection of Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo.  As Speaker Pro Tem and as a professor of constitutional law at Seton Hall, Fred is an intellectual powerhouse who ranks among the most effective civil rights champions anywhere in America.  With passion, soaring oratory and a grasp of public policy second to very few, Fred has been a quarterback on a wide range of pro-LGBTI legislation.  He guided the civil unions law to passage while making clear that the law is not equality — and that the fight for real marriage equality must be won soon.  He and his staff work in close partnership with Garden State Equality.  No matter where in New Jersey you may live, if you have to donate your time or money to just one candidate this primary season, please consider Fred.  Checks are payable to “Election Fund of Wilfredo Caraballo” and should be mailed to Caraballo for Assembly, 562 Broadway, Newark, NJ 07104.  Fred’s campaign office number is (973) 485-8701.  New Jersey election law requires that for donations of $300.01 and above, you provide your occupation, employer and employer’s address.

Garden State Equality debated whether to endorse Fred alone, or to also endorse one other Assembly candidate for the two Assembly seats.  In a close call, we endorse L. Grace Spencer for the other Assembly seat, an attorney who has worked with members of the LGBTI community and has an impressive grasp of the issues.  The third candidate running for the two Assembly seats is Albert Coutinho.  Though he would make a fine Assembly member, Coutinho described himself as close, but not there yet, on marriage equality.  We believe he is persuadable, but Caraballo and Spencer are there already.

Garden State Equality endorses Teresa Ruiz for state Senate, running unopposed in the primary.  Ruiz, a top aide to County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, wowed us when interviewed her.  She is formidably direct, progressive and off-the-charts charismatic.  She spoke movingly of the harm inflicted on her LGBTI friends who cannot marry.  Her experience working for the County Executive, himself a staunch ally of the LGBTI community and an absolute pleasure to work with, has been invaluable.  Ruiz will be a superstar in Trenton.

District 31, Hudson (Part of Jersey City, all of Bayonne):  Sandra Cunningham for state Senate.  Nicholas Chiaravalloti for Assembly.  L. Harvey Smith for Assembly.

Garden State Equality’s focus in this district is the election of Nicholas Chiaravalloti to the Assembly.  We leaders of the LGBTI community and other progressive communities know Nicholas well through his years of service as U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s state director.  Beyond being a smart, hardworking ally of the LGBTI community and a supporter of every LGBTI issue, Nicholas is everything Hudson County needs.  He is an accessible, progressive reformer who articulates a compelling vision of a more accountable, open government.  He would be a breath of fresh air in Trenton.

For the other Assembly seat, Garden State Equality endorses L. Harvey Smith.  As a state Senator in 2003, Smith declined to vote on the narrow domestic partnership bill whose achievement was to gave same-sex partners the right to visit one another in the hospital.  Today, Smith says he was wrong.  “I’ve come a long way,” he says, “and I believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry like everyone else.”  Voters should reward that kind of honesty and growth.

Garden State Equality endorses Sandra Bolden Cunningham for the state Senate.  Well-known to voters as the widow of former state Senator and Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, Sandy has a rich history of her own progressive activism and has worked closely with the LGBTI community.  She is an extremely articulate voice for justice.  We support her over Lou Manzo, currently an Assembly member, in a race where both candidates support marriage equality but where she is more passionate about the issue.  Manzo said he would not be a leader on the issue.  In a district with one of the largest LGBTI communities in the state, that’s not good enough.

District 32, Hudson (Part of Jersey City, all of Harrison, Secaucus, Kearny and North Bergen):  Joan Quigley for Assembly.  Vince Prieto for Assembly.

Garden State Equality endorses Joan Quigley for reelection to the Assembly, where she is Majority Conference Leader, the third highest ranking member of the chamber.  Quigley has been a leader on every LGBTI issue over the years.  She has soared even further in our eyes as she has taken on the rabidly anti-LGBTI author Ann Coulter in the media. 

Garden State Equality also endorses Assemblyman Vince Prieto, Deputy Majority Whip and another progressive who supports marriage equality.

Senator Nicholas Sacco, running for reelection, did not return calls. 

District 33, Hudson (Part of Jersey City, all of Hoboken, Union City, West New York and Weehawken):  Brian Stack for state Senate.  Ruben Ramos for Assembly.  Carrie Rodriguez for Assembly.

Garden State Equality’s focus in this district is the election of Brian Stack to the state Senate.  Were there a list of the 10 most interesting people in New Jersey politics, Stack would surely be on it.  As reviled as he is by the local party machine for being independent, Stack, now an Assembly member and mayor of Union City, is beloved by his constituents.  It’s understandable:  Stack picks up garbage from the streets, works around the clock and is accessible to all.  He’s also one of the most pro-active leaders we’ve ever worked with.  Just before last fall’s New Jersey Supreme Court decision came down, he called us to say he would introduce a marriage equality bill were the decision to fall short.  We didn’t even have to ask, and he’s been like that on every LGBTI issue over the years.  Brian Stack in the state Senate could make all the difference in that chamber for marriage equality.

Garden State Equality also endorses Ruben Ramos and Carrie Rodriguez for Assembly, two proteges of Stack who share his passion and his views.  This is one team Garden State Equality is proud to endorse in its entirety.