Tag Archive: booker

With Booker as the Democratic Nominee for the Special Election, NJ Progressives Face a Quandary

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?

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.


Holt Creates Distance From Booker on Education

Cross-posted from Jersey Jazzman

The next few weeks should determine whether there is actually going to be a Democratic primary race for the open Senate seat in New Jersey, or whether Cory Booker will simply stride to Washington with token opposition. Representatives Frank Pallone and Rush Holt are Booker’s only serious opposition, but each trails the Newark mayor by more than 40 points.

I’m watching this race carefully because, as my regular readers know, Booker is one of the reformyest politicians in New Jersey, if not the country. He supports school vouchers (but not health care vouchers – hypocrite), loves charters, thinks merit pay for teachers is a great idea, wants to do away with seniority, and seems to have no problems with error-prone test-based teacher evaluation. He accepts scads of money from edu-vultures like Andrew Tisch of K12 Inc., yet thinks that the teacher payroll in Newark is too big.

Cory Booker, in short, is one of the least friendly politicians to public school teachers and public education in the Democratic party. His election to the Senate would undoubtedly mean the upper chamber would gain yet another acolyte for SecEd Arne Duncan and his failed policies.

So I’m looking for some indication from Holt and Pallone that they are willing to distance themselves from this nonsense. As Bob Braun – formerly of the Star-Ledger, currently advising Holt – pointed out on his blog, Holt and Booker differ on vouchers, which is admittedly no small thing. Braun, however, went a step further and chided the NJEA for not getting behind Holt solely on the basis of this difference.

As I pointed out in a comment, however, I can’t see how NJEA would want to further isolate themselves from Booker if vouchers are the only difference between him and Holt:

Two Wings: Newark’s Project Labor Agreement is how development should be done in urban NJ

Are you listening, Gov. Christie? – promoted by Rosi

Rice is Newark Councilman, for the City’s West Ward.

Last week, Newark Mayor Cory Booker signed legislation, sponsored by Council President Donald M. Payne, Jr. (soon to be Congressman Payne, Jr.) and I, that guarantees union participation in our city’s largest construction developments. This Project Labor Agreement (PLA) law, modeled after Jersey City’s PLA, is an affirmation of our city’s support for unions, still the best avenue for working class citizens to make it into the middle class. It did not come into existence, however, as easily as some would think, but the journey is illustrative of how local government, unions, the “grassroots,” and residents can still come together and formulate good public policy that will have a positive impact on urban job creation.

In 2010, Mayor Booker introduced a Project Labor Agreement ordinance for consideration by the Newark Municipal Council. There were problems from the start.  It was introduced in a municipal election year, the city council did not have any input in the final legislation, and the rumor was that the trade unions were not that enthused about the version either. The most visible problem was that it met with almost universal non-union construction worker/company opposition (even though they did not pay their workers prevailing wages nor offer pensions/healthcare). The non-union opposition was well organized, packing the City Hall Council chambers in greater numbers than the union supporters of the proposal by a 2-1 ratio. Their argument was simple, poignant and true: why give the unions so much when the trade union locals did not have a significant number of Newark residents in their organizations and, therefore, not a lot of African-American and Latino workers? They also proffered the argument that in these tough times, a job is a job, even if there are no fringe benefits (FTEs).  The City Council unanimously tabled the proposal without a comment or statement.  

The Many Faces of Cory Booker

Newark Mayor Cory Booker on vouchers:

As for vouchers, which give people tax money to spend in private schools, Booker said he “doesn’t care” if districts are upset.

“I don’t think vouchers are the solution, but how can I tell a parent that they have to stay in a failing system,” he said. “These kids are locked in a prison. Am I supposed to tell a parent, ‘You just wait until we get this figured out?'”

Cory Booker on vouchers:

But Green built the momentum up to the main event: the mayor from Newark, who was the only New Jersey Democrat allowed on a national stage at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte.

“They’re trying to voucherize our healthcare and privatize our Social Security,” said a riled up Booker. “Their politics have become about politics, not about purpose and not about passion. …I’m proud to be a Democrat because it’s what we stand for.

So, Supermayor likes vouchers… but only some vouchers.

The future of the Democratic Party, ladies and gentlemen. Swell…

Intellectual consistency is my kryptonite!

Party Boss Politics & 2013

As speculation grows as to which democrats will actually toss their hats in the ring for 2013 and as I read the debate on Blue Jersey about a Booker candidacy, a few scenarios and a few questions ran through my mind.

I am pretty sure there can be little debate that the party bosses (Norcross, Adubato, et. al.) sat on their hands in 2009 to springboard Christie to the Governor’s Office.  It certainly seems to me that Christie has danced well with the bosses.  They have helped Christie achieve moderate legislative success and Christie in turn has thrown them a few favors thus enabling them to keep their political power.

A big question for me is why the bosses would want to get rid of Christie?  They seem to have a good relationship and are able to share power and influence.  It seems almost like a bromance.  From the outside looking in, I don’t see a need for a breakup.  I used to have a boss who would tell me all the time, “don’t fuck with a good thing”.  It is not a good thing for me or the vast majority of New Jerseyans, however for Christie and the bosses it seems like a pretty good relationship.

Keeping my theory in mind, how could the party bosses enthusiastically endorse a democratic candidate when they really don’t need one?  They don’t give a shit about democratic or progressive ideology.  Their only concern is maintaining power and privilege.  They have that now.

Why would candidates who have played nice with the bosses (Sweeney,Greenwald,Booker) want to run as a candidate when they know their machines are happy with the current arrangement?

Can candidates who are not boss affiliated (Buono,Codey,Bollwage) win an election without the support of the party bosses?   Are there enough disenfranchised ex Christie voters out there to tilt the scales enough to overcome the suppression by the bosses?  My feeling is yes, however it would have to be the campaign of a lifetime.  

Christie is beatable.  He is a fraud.  My fear is that he can overcome an election if challenged by a lackluster campaign or a campaign run by party bosses.

Virtual Charters MUST Be Halted

Over the last week, there’s been a whirlwind of activity and reporting over “virtual charter schools”: tax-payer funded schools that pay private, for-profit contractors to provide instruction that is partially or entirely on-line.

As recent articles in the New York Times and the Nation have shown, these schools reap big profits for the private companies that manage them, but their educational records are less than distinguished. Worse, they are at the heart of scandals around the country that have cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Now these virtual charters are poised to become part of the New Jersey school system. But, as local bloggers and parent groups have dug further into the facts, it’s become clear that there are very serious questions about whether railroading these on-line schools through the approval process is in the best interests of our state’s taxpayers and children:

– Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a huge charter cheerleader, has a key campaign donor who stands to make big money off of virtual charters in New Jersey: Andrew Tisch, chairman of the board of K12 Inc., the cyber-charter management company.

Darcie Cimaristi makes the case that the state is retaining control of Newark’s schools precisely so virtual charters can anchor themselves there with a minimum of local interference.

– Once they are set up, virtual charters can spread around the state under new rules proposed by ACTING Education Commissioner Cerf, according to Deb Cornavaca of SOSNJ. Cornavaca also exposes the double standards for approval of virtual charters vs. brick-and-morter schools.

Kendal James shows us that these virtual charters cannot actually be approved under current law; groups as diverse as the NJEA, the NAACP, the School Boards Association, and the Education Law Center all happen to agree.

Darcie Cimarusti also details the cronyism – much of it through the infamous Broad Superintendents Academy – and conflicts of interest that surround two of the new virtual charters.

I describe the serious concerns academic researchers have about cheating and the poor quality of instruction found in many on-line schools.

– Finally, both Darcie and yours truly make the case that the amounts of money proposed for virtual charters is ludicrous given the comparatively lower costs of on-line instruction here and around the country.

All of this should be enough for the press to start asking the supporters of these schools some hard questions. And it should be more than enough for the Legislature to act on Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan’s proposal to put a one-year moratorium on virtual charters and establish a task force to study them.

Rushing these schools’ applications for starts this fall without addressing these very serious and real concerns would be a virtual disaster.

I’m sorry, Dave, but I’m afraid I can’t wait any longer for my charter school to open…