In what is no new news to Jersey Progressives, Cory Booker has unsurprisingly coasted to the Democratic Nomination for the late Sen. Lautenberg’s seat. He won over half of the vote, destroying Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. Rush Holt, and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. I worked and did everything in my power to help Rep. Rush Holt try and pull the upset, but to no avail. Many Jersey progressives had been hoping and working for Holt and Frank Pallone in the hope that we New Jerseyans could get a genuine progressive voice in the Senate. Instead, it looks like we will be getting a “New” Democrat, a socially progressive, but pro-wall street and fiscally moderate to conservative democrat. The knee jerk reaction would be to support Mr. Booker over the Republican nominee, tea party wackjob Steve Lonegan, as a “hold your nose” vote.
However, due to the fact that there, in a addition to the bizarre October special election this year, will be another election in November 2014, we (NJ Progressives) have several options. I will outline the pros and cons of them in order to facilitate debate between NJ Progressives. I have broken them down into courses of action that may be taken.
Option #1-Write in Cory Booker
This idea, proposed by vmars, is a simple one-write in Cory Booker. Instead of voting for him on the line, we will write him in.
Pros: This is perhaps the best idea to express the Progressive discontent with New Democrats like Cory Booker. If people see that even if a few percent of his votes come from write-ins, people will realize that Cory Booker truly is no progressive. At the same time, he will be getting votes that will be keeping out tea partier, Steve Lonegan, affirming his status as the lesser of the two evils.
Cons: There are certain technical problems with this strategy. Comments on vmars’s column question whether voters are allowed to write in candidates on the ballot. Furthermore, Cory Booker is a rising star in the Democratic Party. Having him in the Senate will brighten his political star, and maybe allow him to look onto bigger things (cough cough President). Progressives do not want another powerful New Dem like Booker in a party infested with them.
Option #2-Write in a Progressive Candidate
Pros: It would once again show our discontent with Cory Booker. It would also raise recognition of progressive candidates like Rush Holt and Frank Pallone.
Cons: Should the election come close, these protest votes could act as a spoiler and hand the Senate seat over to Lonegan. In addition it would accomplish very little other than express discontent.
Option #3-Vote for “Crazy” Steve Lonegan
Pros: The most unorthodox and bizarre idea of them all, it could just work. I don’t foresee Steve Lonegan upsetting Cory Booker, or even coming close for that matter. But what if further dirt is dug up, revealing the Newark mayor to be more corrupt than we already know, and somehow Lonegan pulls off the upset? This would mean a re-match in 2014, and with Booker losing over scandal, the Democrats will never re-nominate him. Boom. That leaves the door open for Rush Holt and Frank Pallone to seek the nomination. With NJ voting for Lonegan as a “hold your nose vote”, this could very well lead Holt or Pallone to victory over Lonegan in 2014. There is no way that people though, will vote for Lonegan just because they like him and they think Booker is bad. Some sort of miracle would have to happen. In addition, a loss in the Senate race would kill Cory Booker’s political career.
Cons: This is by far, the riskiest option. With Lonegan in as the incumbent, he might have a shot at winning again in 2014. And he really is that horrible. He has expressed support for privatizing Social Security, calling it a “Ponzi” scheme, has said he would have opposed for FEMA aid for Sandy, and is likely a racist, as evidenced by his tweet. Having him though for one year in the Senate even, would be harmful, not to mention embarrassing for the Garden State. How do we know that a Progressive will even run though in 2014, should Lonegan win? Holt and Pallone might decline to run in 2014.
Option #4-Vote for Cory Booker
Pros: Booker, as disappointing as he is, is the lesser of the two evils to Steve Lonegan. Like Obama in 2012, by voting for Booker, Progressives could say they stood behind him, and hold his feet to the fire, and maybe be rewarded. And voting for him 2013 would give Liberals a chance to watch him under the microscope for a few months in order to decide whether it is worth challenging him in 2014.
Cons: With him winning in 2013, he would be a shoo-in for 2014. Even if we united behind Pallone or Holt in 2014, it would be impossible to take him down. Allowing him in would increase his political star.
So I ask you, NJ Progressives, what do we do?