Tag Archive: Upendra Chivukula

Saturday: Big campaign day in Central Jersey

Saturday Morning:

Canvass with Rush Holt & Marie CorfieldDo South Brunswick

with Rush Holt & Marie Corfield

When: 9:15 gather. Talks from Rush & Marie. Hit doors starting 10am.

Where: South Brunswick Democratic HQ

136 Culver Road, South Brunswick

YES: Coffee & light refreshments

We Gotcha: They’ll train you, answer any questions & get you ready to go

INFO/RSVP Facebook: Canvass with Congressman Rush Holt & Marie Corfield

South Brunswick’s loaded with persuadable folks & Democrats. And it’s common ground for both Marie Corfield’s 16th District Assembly run (against appointed Tea Partier Donna Simon) & Rep. Rush Holt’s 12th Congressional District.

Rush & Marie are both veterans of Jeopardy (our Central Jersey Dems are smart). Marie’s running what the national Dems named the #1 Grassroots-Powered state race in the USA. And Rush? Two words: Rocket Scientist. Come out & join them.

Saturday Afternoon:

Obama barnObama GOTV Rally

Confirmed: Cory Booker, Upendra Chivukula, Rush Holt, Gov. Jim Florio, Marie Corfield

Quite Possible: Frank Lautenberg, Bob Menendez, John Wisniewski  

Where: Somerset County Courthouse Lawns, East Main and North Bridge Street, Somerville

When: Saturday 12:30 – 2:00 PM

Hook me up: Free Admission, of course

And another in Monmouth:

Get-Out-the-Vote Obama for President Rally

When: 11:00am to 1:00pm

Where: West Side Community Center, 115 Dewitt Ave., Asbury Park

Confirmed: U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Governor Richard Codey, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Jersey City Mayor Jerry Healy, U.S. Congressman Frank Pallone, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, Senator, Barbara Buono, Assemblyman John Wisniewski, 1199 SEIU’s Milly Silva, Ocean County Democratic Chairman Wyatt Earp

Congressional Candidate Brian Froelich, County Candidates Kevin Lavan, Bill Shea and Michael Steinhorn

along with other prominent Democratic Party Members and Labor Leaders.

Cost: FREE

RSVP Mandatory to 732-739-8888 or monmouthdemocrats@gmail.com  

Polls: Much Ado About Margins of Error

Polls – love them or hate them – are here to stay. Polls may be statistically significant (outside the margin of error) or statistically not significant (within the margin of error).

Often people calculate statistical significance as twice the reported margin of error of the poll. This is done following the logic that if one candidate is at 55% and the other at 45% and the poll has a ±5% margin of error, then the first candidate could be as low as 55−5 = 50% and the second could be as high as 45+5 = 50%. In this case reporters would say the race was a statistical dead heat because the gap between the candidates (55 − 45 = 10%) is not more than two times the margin of error of the poll (5%).

There are other factors to consider: how recent was the poll, how large was the sample size, does the pollster have a reputation for bias, and are there other polls with which to compare it. If there are more than two candidates in the race or a substantial number of undecided respondents the results may be confounding. In general, however, where the results of one candidate versus the other are more than twice the margin of error, there is considerable likelihood of statistical significance.

Polls for the Senate race in New Jersey have consistently shown Senator Bob Menendez in the lead over State Senator Joe Kyrillos. Real Clear Politics provides him with an average 18.5 point lead based on four recent polls which have Menendez up 22, 20, 18, and 14 points. Reviewing the margins of error of these particular polls suggest they are all statistically significant.  

Polls for the Presidential race in NJ have also consistently shown President Obama in the lead over Mitt Romney. The five most recent polls have Obama up 14, 15, 7, 8, and 11 points. Real Clear Politics provides him with an average 11 point lead. All the polls are statistically significant, except for the one with Obama leading by 7 points.

In our congressional districts there are two strongly contested races which are leaning Republican. In CD 3 I know of only one poll, the the Stockton poll of October 4, which indicates incumbent Republican Jon Runyan leads Democratic challenger Shelley Adler by a margin of 49 percent to 39 percent among likely voters. The margin of error is +/- 4% suggesting it is statistically significant. Unfortunately I know of no other poll with which to compare it. In CD7 where incumbent Republican Leonard Lance is challenged by Democrat Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, I have seen no poll.

Regarding the presidential tracking polls nationally, today’s Real Clear Politics (RCP) has  47.1% for President Obama and 46.9% for Mitt Romney. The most significantly outlying poll, the Gallup Poll, as of today had Obama 45% and Romney 52% – a 7 point Romney lead with a +/- 2% margin of error – rendering it statistically significant. The other eight most recent polls in the RCP computation have Romney ahead by 2, 1, and 1 points; Obama ahead by 6, 3, 3 and 1 points; and one tie. Only the Gallup Poll holds statistical significance. The Presidential Electoral College Maps, based on state polls, show considerable variance. RCP has Obama with 201 likely/leaning votes and Romney with 206 likely/leaning votes and 131 toss up votes. POLITICO apportions the toss up states and has Obama with 277 votes (enough to win) and Romney at 261. Anyway you look at it, this race is a cliffhanger filled with statistical uncertainty.

Another pesky thing about polls is they can change. So with little more than two weeks to elections, stay tuned and check those margins of error.  

Menendez in Metuchen

Even though his re-election is virtually assured, Senator Robert Menendez is not taking anything for granted. This was amply demonstrated by his performance in this week’s debate against State Senator Joe Kyrillos. While Kyrillos spoke mostly in platitudes and talking points, Menendez had specific facts and figures at his fingertips.

Menendez is also working hard to reach out to his constituents, criss-crossing the state to meet and greet folks from all walks of life. Today, I caught up with him at the Metuchen Country Fair, where he generously took a few minutes to speak with Blue Jersey before returning to handshaking and listening.

As an added bonus, I spoke with Congressman Frank Pallone, also below.

NJ-7: A Congressional Race that North Jerseyans Can Be Excited About

promoted by Rosi

I know, I know.  NJ’s 7th Congressional District isn’t really what you’d call a “northern New Jersey District”.  And yeah, there are at least 5 other districts that cover more of Northern New Jersey (the 5th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th) than the 7th.

But taking a look at the races in those other districts (without mentioning any issues related to campaigns that I may or may not agree with), the 7th is really one of the NJ races to watch – and really the only one other than the 3rd which is hotly contested.  Sadly, looking at the other five districts (as Bill Orr did a few weeks back), while it is nice to see very strong leads for the Democrats in the 8th, 9th and 10th, the 5th and 11th are pretty much lost causes.

Take that with a growing lead for both President Obama and Senator Menendez (although you never want to be too confident), what’s a dedicated activist to do with their time and efforts on the Congressional level?  This may sound harsh, but if a candidate isn’t interested enough in their own campaign to raise the requisite funds to be taken the least bit seriously, why should activists waste their own precious time, money and effort?

And that brings me to the 7th.  Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula is running against “formerly moderate NJ Assemblyman turned right wing lackey” Congressman Leonard Lance.  This was a race that Assemblyman Chivukula entered late due to Ed Potosnak’s dropping out, but has been tagged as an “emerging race” by the DCCC.

For those who are in the 5th, especially the western part of the District, the 7th stretches into Warren County.  For those who are in the 11th, the 7th also stretches into Morris County.  And the 7th also touches on Essex County (Millburn).  Suffice to say, it is a massively large District, and progressives, liberals, Democrats, activists, door knockers, phonebankers, donors and anyone I missed who is disillusioned by the races in the 5th and 11th, or want to put their time and efforts towards something that isn’t as “in the bank” as the 8th, 9th and 10th can certainly help make a difference in the 7th.

Here is Chivukula’s first TV ad and here is his campaign website if you want more information.  As someone who lives in one of the other 5 Districts noted above, I’m going to focus some time writing about the 7th over the next few weeks as well and I know some other Blue Jerseyans are involved in the campaign on a deeper level.

Just because most races have already been decided for the most part doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to help out if you are so inclined.  The 7th is one really good way.

Chivukula Releases his First TV Ad

As an engineer I’m supposed to look at facts dispassionately, but one of the reasons I like Upendra Chivukula is that he’s a fellow engineer. Engineers are problem solvers, and that’s what we need in Congress today. His first TV ad stresses this point. Oh, and by the way, another reason I like him is that he’s a genuinely nice guy – he always has time to answer my requests even though I’m not a constituent.

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.

The Convention And What’s Ahead

As we look forward to the opening of the Democratic National Convention, let’s review the challenges and opportunities for Democrats both nationally and in New Jersey. Current data and projections from the Cook Report, Washington Post, NY Times, and Politico are largely in agreement and provide us with a picture of where we are now and what to expect. Democrats have a rocky road ahead. Nationally we will have to unify behind the ticket, work for the candidates, donate more, get out the vote and be sure we cast our own ballot.


National polls project a very tight race between President Obama and Mitt Romney. The electoral map currently looks more promising for Obama and indicates where his challenges lie. With 270 electoral votes needed, the NY Times Electoral Map indicates that Obama now has 185 solid votes and 52 leaning votes for a total of 237. He needs 33 more votes. Romney has 158 solid votes, 48 leaning for a total of 206, and he needs 64 more. The battle is for the 95 toss-up votes in Colo, Fla, Iowa, Nev, N.H., Ohio, VA, and Wisc. (Politico also includes Mich. and N.C. as swing states.) NJ is solidly in the Obama column. (Even Governor Christie agrees.)


Nationally with fewer House incumbents on the ballot since 1992, including many Democrats who decided not to run again, and with Republicans currently holding a majority of 50 votes, the barrier for Democrats to retake the House is high. To reach the needed 218 members, based on the the N Y Times rating, voters would have to elect the 184 solid or leaning Democratic candidates, the 22 toss up candidates and 12 of the 33 leaning Republican candidates. Other scenarios are possible, but the road to leadership this year is difficult.

NJ Democrats and Independents can help. We have one such leaning Republican district, CD 3, where Shelley Adler has an opportunity to take the seat held by Republican Jon Runyan. Also in CD 7, where Upendra Chivukula is running against Republican incumbent Leonard Lance, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised the contest to a “race to watch,” which might be a stepping stone toward the DCCC’s Red to Blue List. Current projections from the four sources are that NJ will end up with a delegation of six Democrats (CD 1, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12) and six Republicans (CD 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 11). However, we can do better. If both of these Democratic challengers were to win, we would be thrilled to have a delegation with 8 Democrats and 4 Republicans, plus, a more Democratic House.


The race for Senate leadership is also tight. Here 51 votes constitute the majority. There are currently 51 Democrats, 47 Republicans and 2 Independents, but under frustrating Senate rules a three-fifths majority is required to end a filibuster and pass most controversial legislation. According to the NY Times there are currently 30 continuing Democrats (including NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg), 11 solid Democrats (including incumbent NJ Senator Robert Menendez) and 6 leaning Democrats for a total of 47. On the Republican side there are 37 continuing, 6 solid, and 3 leaning for a total of 46. Key battles will be in the 7 tossup states – Maine, Mass, and Nev now held by Republicans, and Missou, Mont, VA, and Wisc now held by Democrats.  

News Roundup & Open Thread for Friday, August 31, 2012

Unfortunate, but who likes a horseshoe crab?

Congressional Districts

  • DCCC upgrades CD7 to ‘race to watch’ – The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has added the 7th Congressional District candidate Upendra Chivukula to its list of emerging races to watch around the country.

  • Shelley Adler (CD3) is already on the DCCC’s Red to Blue List

  • Also regarding CD 3, Deciminyan discusses The Runyan/Ryan/Romney plan to “save” Medicare.

    Tampa Convention Draws To An End…

  • Mentioning Bain at the convention is frowned upon (although Romney violated the rule) and Rolling Stone unearths another reason why: it took a federal bailout to save the firm.

  • Asked if he was surprised by the mixed reception to his speech, Christie says, “95 percent of the reaction I saw was really good.” Really?

  • Rosi sez: This is a weird freaking convention.

  • Sen. Loretta Weinberg muses: “Wonder what Mitt Romney’s mom would think of today’s Republican party? She was more modern and “with it” than he is!”

  • The N Y Times says, The challenge for Mitt Romney may be that even Americans who are unhappy with President Obama remain personally attached to him.

    … And On to Charlotte

  • NY Times Electoral Map: Building A Path To Victory

  • Democratic National Convention website

  • NJ delegates, including alternates and at-large

  • Speakers, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker

  • Caucuses and councils

    Rutgers-Eagleton Polls

  • Adding Ryan to the ticket does little for Romney among likely NJ voters.

  • Obama hold 14 point lead over Romney among likey NJ voters.


  • Since Christie budgeted for an increase over 7%, this is not much to brag about: The Treasury Department’s Garden State July Activity Index reached a level 2.1% higher than the level in July 2011.

  • Christie in his keynote address said he has signed “three balanced budgets.” Bloomberg points out that he was only able to do so by making inadequate payments into the state’s pension fund.

    Your TV Update

  • Good news: HBO’s Boardwalk Empire returns September 16.

  • Good Riddance: The upcoming season of “Jersey Shore” will be its last.

  • Water Companies Need to Rehabilitate Infrastructure

    Recently, I was at New Jersey American Water’s Canal Road Water Treatment Plant to discuss New Jersey’s Water infrastructure organized by the Somerset County Business Partnership and New Jersey American Water. I was thankful for the opportunity to share my thoughts as an engineer who worked in the industry for 30 years and became a policymaker and chairman of the Assemblyman Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.

    One of the important outcomes of the session was the need to accelerate the replacement and rehabilitation of this critical infrastructure using a BPU program that can be used by water companies to address aging infrastructure in a way that is both accelerated and financially prudent to rate payers.