Tag Archive: John Wisniewski

John Wisniewski, what’s your plan?

John Wisniewski’s people trumpeted the news yesterday that he has secured the endorsement of all 21 Democratic County Chairs. We bit. We wrote about it – because it’s interesting, and people want to know.

But what I want to know, is where Wisniewski wants to take us, and how. I’m less interested in the personalities of who leads the state party than in what – specifically – they’re doing to change party infrastructure and methods. Transparency. Platform. Outreach.

I’ll tell you a story of something I got very wrong, before I got it right. I host Hunterdon DFA, and I’m one of the people who organized the state DFA-NJ. It would have killed Howard Dean if the surging grass/netroots organizing that grew up behind his campaign came to a dead stop after he stopped running, as Democratic organizing so often peters out behind unsuccessful candidates. So Democracy for America was born. And in the early days of it, some of us got a call: What did we think of Howard Dean running for DNC Chair? Well. I was against it – a solid no. I wanted Dean to re-emerge as candidate for president, again.

But when I took the question to Hunterdon DFA, they set me straight: If we don’t have somebody who can fix the party infrastructure, who can change everything, we won’t win anything – not the White House, or the House, or the Senate.

Lightbulb. Really, sometimes I can be so slow.

When Howard Dean ran for DNC Chair, he ran on a clear organizing principle: Reform Democratic spending and focus; less to hidebound inside-Beltway consultants, and more to training and underwriting energetic organizers to fan out and work locally (thank you). End the focus on “target” races only; concede no voter, no District, no state.

He told everybody what he was running on. It was out on the table. And he was right. So, John Wisniewski, I want to know your plan.

Taking my lesson from Hunterdon DFA, the challenge NJ Dems face is every bit as critical as the Bush White House that Dean stared down. The vectors aren’t ours right now. NJGOP has a reason to live for the first time in a decade of looking stupid. They’re high on life, and we are not. We face a GOP executive riding high. And the rootin’-tootin’ corruption shooter Chris Christie is our boots ‘n spurs tough-talking George W. Bush. The wind isn’t going to shift in our direction without change from within. I think we’re owed hearing how Wisniewski is going to be New Jersey’s Howard Dean.

This is in no way an indictment of Joe Cryan, who I like a great deal. And I was in the room for this meeting too, and I agree about the man Wisniewski is. This isn’t personal.

The NJDSC will have a Vice-Chair, too. I’m told in confidence it’s likely to be someone I know. I hope she comes forward with her proposals, too, and I hope I never see anything like this happen again. And Steve Sweeney, with the awesome party power of his office, will I hope also be public about how he can and will change the party’s paradigm.

Assemblyman, that’s what I want to know.

Blue Jersey, what do you want to know?

Wisniewski says he has support of all 21 chairs to lead Democratic State Committee

Assemblyman John Wisniewski just sent out this statement in a press release:

As the members of the State Democratic Committee prepare to meet on January 27th to elect the organization’s next leader, the Democratic Chairs from all 21 counties in New Jersey today pledged their full and unanimous support for Assemblyman John Wisniewski of Sayreville to be the next Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.

The release then went on to list all the county chairs and quotes from particular endorsers. Whoever the next chairman of the Democratic State Committee is has a difficult task ahead of them. Many Democrats are depressed either from the most recent election, national issues and even the goings on of lame duck. The party will also have to raise money and organize without the financial support of Governor Gorzine for the first time in many years.

Rosi put together this open letter to the next State Chairman following the election in November in which she outlined many things she would like to see from the next leader of our state party. It’s a great jumping off point. We’ll have to make sure we send Wisniewski a copy. And we’d love to have him come talk about things on Blue Jersey radio, which would go along with Rosi’s thought to play with new Media. What do you think of Wisniewski as the next chairman of the state party and what else would you suggest they do to help make our party stronger?

More hats in the Speaker ring

With the news last week that Speaker Roberts would not seek another term in office, the jockeying has already begun for who would be in the running to replace him leading the Assembly should the Democrats retain control.

Assemblyman Joe Cryan, said he’s focused on his current job in November as State party Chairman electing Democrats:

“I’ve got a job that I’m going to focus on as chairman of the party, working to get Democrats elected,” he said.  “I’m as accountable as anyone for making sure we retain the Assembly majority, so I’m just going to keep my focus there and see where things go.”

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman said she intends to seek the position:

“Having had the opportunity to serve the caucus in a leadership position in legislature, I believe ascending to the speaker’s position is a natural extension based on the work I’ve already been doing,” Watson Coleman told PolitickerNJ.com in a conference call.

Mercer County Chairman Rich Mcclellan issued a statement in support and Rev. Soaries threatened to back away from Governor Corzine’s re-election campaign if he did not announce his support for her efforts. That threat becomes more interesting if this news from Wally Edge is true:

Look for a fourth candidate in the race for Assembly Speaker: Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) has spent the last two days testing the waters to seek the post.  Oliver is the Assistant Essex County Administrator, which means strong ties to County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and Newark Democratic leader Stephen Adubato.  Essex County has the state’s largest Assembly delegation – nine votes.

But Oliver could really only be Speaker if Dick Codey were not Senate President, a separate shoe that would still need to drop in the other house. Assemblyman Wisniewski has also expressed his interest, but also reminded people that there were other elections first:

“I am interested in making the case to my colleagues, however there’s a little detail called a general election we have to get though first,” Wisniewski added. “It’s all interesting and noteworthy, but let’s win the election then talk about leadership. Is the question, ‘Am I interested?’ Yes, of course, I am interested.”

That’s right, let’s win the election and we can talk about who leads next. While some say within the party for leadership could distract from the effort to re-election Corzine, Senator Lesniak thinks it could work to his advantage:

“What he can do – and what he better do – is keep out of it, and he’s smart enough to do that,” said state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, a party power broker who holds considerable sway in the leadership disputes. “It could actually work on the governor’s behalf, if it’s perceived that those who do the best in terms of vote production for Corzine will get him on their side.”

That scenario only works if Corzine wins re-election. And that election comes before any other party jockeying. Take the poll and tell us who you think will be the next Speaker of the Assembly and how you think it factors into the Governor’s race.

So Much for Diversity on the LD19 Slate

The LD 19 committee convention endorsed Craig Coughlin as the Dem candidate for assembly, so O’Leary’s withdrawal did not open up a spot for Judge Mattias Rodriguez or Jean Pierce.  Very disappointing.

The Star Ledger reports the vote was overwhelmingly for Coughlin:

District Democratic Party committee members nominated Coughlin with 170 votes. Superior Court Judge Mathias Rodriguez of Perth Amboy received 77 votes and Jean Pierce, a Woodbridge health care professional and activist, took 25 votes…

Coughlin will run with Assemblyman John Wisniewski of Sayreville, who attended tonight’s convention, and who several people suggested could be the next Assembly speaker.

“The man who I hope will be the next speaker,” Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Joseph Spicuzzo said in introducing Wisniewski…

Coughlin and Wisniewski will face Republican candidates Pradip “Peter” Kothari, a Woodbridge businessman, and Richard Piatkowski of Perth Amboy in November.

Even the Ocean County GOP (LD9) did a better job of getting a diverse ticket after Van Pelt’s resignation than the Mdlsx Dems.

[Update:  Just saw this remark from Max Pizarro’s diary:

“I’m trying to break the barrier and prove you don’t need to be 6 ft. 4 to represent this district,” Coughlin said.

That just adds insult to injury.

South Amboy Mayor John T. O’Leary cracked a smile as he applauded in the back of the banquet hall.  Coughlin was the man the 6 ft. 5 mayor from the south side of the bay had supported to be his successor…]

O’Leary’s Out – Diversity for the LD 19 ticket, after all?

[Update: The Home News is now reporting that there are 6 potential candidates to replace O’Leary, and Spicuzzo is ‘not sure of all their names.’

[Update 2:  There is a woman, Jean Pierce from HPAE, in the mix of candidates vying to replace O’Leary as the Dem candidate in LD 19, according to the Home News.  It would be nice to see her replace Vas, after he took the seat from Arlene Friscia.  Home News article

Pierce, 51, who has served on several community boards, including the Woodbridge Housing Authority, said Tuesday she informed Spicuzzo she will file her letter of intent this week.

Pierce is a member of the public policy staff of the Health Professional Allied Employees, the state’s largest union of nurses. Among the public issues she campaigned for was the paid family leave.

“I have a well-rounded background in community organizations and would like to take that to another level,” said Pierce, who has never held elected office.]

It looks like we might get some diversity on the LD 19 ticket, since O’Leary has bowed out to clear his name after a State AG probe and anonymous letters containing various allegations circulated to the Home News and around the county.

The party is considering Superior Court Judge Mathias E. Rodriguez. The fact that he retired on Friday makes it look like he thinks it’s a done deal.  I haven’t heard the names of any women being mentioned, though there are two women on council in Woodbridge, former Council President Pat Osborne and Councilwoman Brenda Yori Velasco.  Before Vas, this was Arlene Friscia’s seat.

I had blogged here about the lack of diversity on the ticket.  And Wisniewski replied here, saying:

…I also noticed there was some concern about not having a particularly diverse ticket in the 19th.  This is something I would like to address.  In Middlesex County, we have a convention where members of the Democratic county committee decide which candidates will be our nominees in the June Primary.  It’s an open process, and the only requirement is that you apply for the position.  I’ve been fortunate to have the committee’s trust and endorsement every year since 1993, and along the way I’ve been honored to screen with several qualified individuals.  However, we need to remember that it’s the job of the Democratic committee members from Perth Amboy, Woodbridge, Sayreville, Carteret, and South Amboy to select their nominees – not me, my running mates, or even the county chairman. That being said, there will be an opportunity to participate in the next screening two years from now. [italics mine -kw]

It didn’t take 2 years.

Now O’Leary is voicing his unhappiness with Wisniewski to the Home News:

O’Leary said Wisniewski was aware of the nine-page letter before it was distributed.  “Clearly, for reasons known only to himself, John was playing politics to benefit himself by becoming part of this anonymous effort to undermine my candidacy,” O’Leary said. O’Leary said he felt betrayed by Wisniewski when Wisniewski made it known to the media that he asked O’Leary to “reconsider the viability” of his bid in a July 28 telephone conversation.

The committee has until Sept 16 to make the ballot replacement, but County Chair Spicuzzo has said the convention will be well before that.  I hope that more people will screen, since in March, it was just O’Leary.

How did Cumberland County get shut out?

Was this an oversight?

Gov. Jon S. Corzine revealed Thursday the 55 transportation projects that state officials chose to receive New Jersey’s $894 million share of federal transportation funding. Not one Cumberland County project was among them.

Nineteen other counties had projects funded. A 20th, Sussex County, saw funding go toward a rail line planned to cut through it. The only chance Cumberland has of seeing any of the $894 million is by applying and competing with 16 other counties for some of a $3 million allocation for replacement minibuses through NJ Transit.

Although Cumberland County is the poorest county in the state with the highest unemployment rate, they didn’t make the cut:

State officials considered 65 projects, according to state Department of Transportation documents. Of those, one was in Cumberland County: $21 million for improvements to the Route 49 and Route 55 interchange. It was turned down, in favor of 39 other DOT projects and another 16 from New Jersey Transit.

“Regional balance was an important factor in DOT’s selection of projects,” DOT spokeswoman Erin Phalon said. “However, other criteria precluded DOT from selecting additional projects.”

And more:

A state Department of Transportation spokeswoman said Friday a formula determined that Cumberland projects received lesser precedence. Only one – improvements to the Routes 49 and 55 interchange – even made the final list.

“I definitely want to know what kind of formula was used to exclude one county in the state,” Milam, who lives in Vineland, told The Press of Atlantic City. “I read it about the same time everyone else did. But it just took me off my feet. I was like, ‘Whoa.'”

Who determined that this one county should receive lesser precedence? Assemblyman Wisniewski made mention of this problem in his response to questions posed here on the blog:

Although the DOT said that geographic balance was an important criterion in determing which projects were selected, that promise did not materialize in the final list that was present.  While all parts of this state are facing serious economic challenges and all need to benefit from the stimulus package, at least one County was entirely shut out of receiving any stimulus money.  The DOT should have paid closer attention in making sure that infrastructure projects are truly spread out and will provide a boost in every region of the state.

I just don’t see how you can completely leave out one county under any formula.  If the whole point of the stimulus was to create jobs, how do you not have any of the funds go to the area with the highest unemployment rate? I look forward to hearing this explanation.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski was NOT on Blue Jersey Radio – Tonight at 8:00 p.m.

Asm. John Wisniewski
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, LD-19

UPDATE: With apologies, Asm. Wisniewski got delayed on the dais at his earlier speaking engagement, and was not able to join us tonight. We’ll give him a pass (though an F to his aide, who was supposed to call in with apologies). Hopefully, we can reschedule him for a good grilling. In the meantime, it was actually still a good show – Have a listen! – JG

Each week, Blue Jersey Radio streams LIVE with New Jersey’s latest political buzz, interviews with newsmakers, and your stimulating calls.

This week: Our guest is Assemblyman John Wisniewski of Sayreville. Known for his expertise on transportation and infrastructure, he’ll be talking about the President’s stimulus plan, and what it means for creating jobs in New Jersey.

We’re LIVE tonight, Wednesday, at 8:00 p.m..

So, what do you want us to ask the good Assemblyman? Put your ideas in the comments, and we’ll choose our favorites to ask him. We really could use your help – after all, we could never be the #1 most popular progressive political show on Blogtalkradio without your help. So, c’mon – give us some ideas.

Or, you can always give us a call during the show and ask the question yourself. Remember, it’s all LIVE. That number again is: 646-652-2773.

Talk to you later!

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Transportation Chair can’t escape the traffic

He probably thought things would be better leaving behind the traffic on the NJ roads, but NJ Assembly Transportation Chair John Wisniewski is finding out that the grass isn’t always greener:

“I came 2,000 miles to escape New Jersey traffic, and it took us an hour and a half to get downtown,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). The Garden State delegation is staying at a hotel about 15 miles from the convention.

The Assemblyman did take into account the fact that there are thousands of extra bodies and cars in Denver for the convention. That, he said, makes for an easier solution to the traffic headache in Colorado than at home.

“Get all the people out of here,” he said.

Yeah, I don’t think that’s gonna work here at home.