Tag Archive: Paul Aronsohn

Bergen County Democrats – “but she’s got a new hat” edition

There is an old episode of The Simpsons where the release of a “hot new doll” threatens to take sales away from the traditional Barbie-type “Malibu Staci” doll.  While the Malibu Staci brass met to discuss the next step to regain market share, they decide to go bold – and release a “new version” of the doll which is exactly the same as the old version, but with a new cowgirl hat.  

Living in Bergen County and recently getting myself onto the County Committee, I had hopes that after what the Bergen County Democratic Organization has been through over the past few years, that there would be a bold new direction – something more than a name change to Democratic Committee of Bergen County, or a “new hat” would be warranted.

After all, this is an Organization that represented a Party which held pretty much every important position in Bergen County a few years ago – including County Executive, Sheriff, all seven Freeholders, a number of State Senators and pretty much every candidate for Congress in the District.  Then there was embarrassment after resignation after embarrassment after indictment after infighting after embarrassment after resignation- and while new BCDO/DCBC Chairman Lou Stellato attempts to steer a badly wounded ship back in the right direction, even what seems like a great move is being handled clumsily.

Rumors were flying around recently that Paul Aronsohn is being looked at to replace David Ganz – one of the remaining 2 Democrats on the 7 person Freeholder board this November.  All this while Aronsohn is supporting Ganz, who isn’t taking this rumor lightly:

“I’m running for re-election,” the former Fair Lawn mayor told Patch. “I had a very good return in all the precincts [in the primary election],” he said, adding that he’s “never stopped campaigning from the last election three years ago.”

Now, I have known Paul for around 5 years – he is a Councilman in Ridgewood (where I live), and we stay in regular touch.  When it comes to moving the BCDO/DCBC in the right direction, there are a few people – but not many – who can take a big role in doing so.  Paul is most certainly one of them and he should be elevated in a way that gives him more exposure and makes Bergen County Democrats proud to be part of this Organization again.  New “up and comers” need to be recruited and groomed, big ideas need to be considered as Bergen County Democrats try to right the ship and regain credibility with voters.

While Paul is on a relatively short list of people who can help in a big way, rumors and innuendo about forcing Ganz off the ticket – even if he is tied to former Chariman Joe Ferriero – is not a productive way to give Committee members and voters the warm and fuzzies.  It’s too bad that the BCDO/DCBC doesn’t seem to be learning a lesson when it comes to showcasing its more valuable people.

Dumb and Dumber

The dumb stuff and the dumber stuff is after the jump.

– Promoted from the diaries by Rosi

Put aside the Blue Law issue.  Put aside their defense of indefensible cuts to social services and education.  And still, Bergen Republican leaders had a banner week – one that underscored a fundamental point:  These folks are not ready for primetime.

A New Forum for the 40th District

We have been making a concerted effort in our campaign to use new mediums to reach voters to keep them up-to-date with where John Agostinelli and Mark Bombace stand on the issues, but also what they are doing day-to-day on the campaign trail.  The next step in the process is the launching of our campaign website, www.40thDistrict.com.  This website will serve as the launching point for our online operation and a resource where 40th District voters can learn about John and Mark and their history of community service and where they stand on the important issues facing their everyday lives.

However, the campaign has been on the Internet for some time now, most notably our Facebook Group which has been growing in numbers everyday.  This is a place where you directly interact with the candidates (Mark often posts on the wall) and stay informed about campaign events, such as our Campaign Headquarters’ Grand Opening on July 23rd at 7:30 pm.  Already a member? That is great, I hope you will invite all of your friends to join the group.  This is one small, generally easy task you could all do to help the campaign.  

Is Facebook not your cup of tea?  Then please follow John and Mark on Twitter, they update daily, usually while they are walking from house to house throughout the 40th District.  Have your friends follow @40thDistrict to grow our numbers and spread our message of real world values and practical solutions for 40th District families.  

The General Election Starts Today

I like the effort this campaign is making to keep in touch with statewide readers. Thanks for writing, Jim – – promoted by Rosi

It is official: John Agostinelli and Mark Bombace will face off against incumbent Trenton insiders Scott Rumana and Dave Russo in the 40th District Assembly race.   The real work starts now and I hope the Blue Jersey community will mobilize to help send them to the State Assembly.  

My name is Jim Tighe and I will be the Campaign Manager for the 40th District Assembly race.  I have been a life long New Jersey resident and attended William Paterson University.  I am fresh off of working as a Field Organizer for Jeanne Shaheen’s successful bid for the United States Senate in New Hampshire. However, my heart has and always will be right here in New Jersey.  As a resident of Vernon Township, I am an elected member of the Sussex County Democratic Committee, so I know a thing or two about treading in Republican terrain.  In 2007 I worked on the Clean Elections Program in the 24th Legislative District; we went door-to-door, collected small donations, and ran a real grassroots campaign. I am going to bring my experience building the Democratic Party in Sussex County and helping elect Senator Shaheen in New Hampshire to this race in the 40th District.  I hope we can count on your support and help to get John and Mark elected on November 4th.

The 40th District has been overlooked in the past by Democratic leaders and party activists, and maybe rightly so.  We all know that this district was gerrymandered 10 years ago to ensure electing Republicans.  But 10 years is a long time and the dynamics of this district have changed.  Ridgewood has become a solidly Democratic performing town (or village, as they like to call it) and gave President Barack Obama a 2-to-1 win over Senator McCain.  Additionally, they have elected Democrats like Paul Aronsohn to the Village Council.  Little Falls, which for 27 years hadn?t elected a Democrat, now has a Democratic majority on their Town Council.  Ringwood, Wanaque, Midland Park, and Wyckoff have all elected Democrats on the local level.  Ringwood Democrats even maintained a Democratic majority on their Council for a 3-year span.  In Wayne the 2008 presidential primary registered over 2,000 new Democrats, shortening the registration advantage for Republicans to less than 2,000.  And, just this past May, 2007 40th District Senate candidate John Zunic was elected to the Cedar Grove City Council. These gains on the local level are the makings of a formula to electing Democrats on the legislative level.  However, it is not going to be easy, and we are going to need all of the help we can get.  

A Town Hall Epilogue

(Promoted from the diaries because New Jersey’s Congressional delegation would be much better off without Rush Limbaugh Republican Scott Garrett -SW)

As many of you know we had our first official Take Back the 5th Town Hall yesterday.  Although there was a threat of snow, we still had a fairly good turn out (nearly 40 people on a Sunday afternoon), and a distinguished panel of speakers.  The most encouraging sign in my opinion was the diverse group of elected officials that came out to speak.  Freeholders Vernon Walton & Jim Carroll, Sheriff Leo McGuire, Ridgewood Councilman (and 2006 Democratic Nominee) Paul Aronsohn, Former Closter Councilman Jack Kelly, and Ogdensburg Mayor Jim Sekelsky, all were on hand to discuss why Scott Garrett was an ineffective Congressman and the work that needs to be done to unseat him in 2010.      

Another thing that became very evident to me is how different the voters are in each county of NJ-5.  A message that could work in Warren and Sussex probably won?t work in Bergen, and the geographic challenges that a candidate faces in the district make it very difficult for him/her to connect with voters.  New ideas and methods need to be implemented in order to win in 2010, and this event opened a new dialogue for organization and message development throughout NJ-5.

In my opinion alternate campaign tactics to be utilized to address these challenges.  When Paul Aronsohn spoke about how he walked across the district in 2006 knocking on doors and engaging voters in made me realize how great of an idea that was.  If we could organize people to walk in their respective towns in the district, knocking on doors, distributing literature, and just opening a dialogue with voters on why Garrett is not representing them, we could really begin a grassroots movement.      

Note to BCDO, please get your act together. Quickly.

Paul Aronsohn makes a very good point:

THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY in Bergen County is in crisis. Hampered by debts and indictments, the party organization is running rudderless and running scared. With some key elections on the horizon, the party is trying to repair itself – in a hurry.

Not surprisingly, the race for the chairmanship has therefore begun in earnest – even among the current chairman’s fiercest supporters. Everyone involved seems to agree: It is time to move on.

Unfortunately, however, the race has focused on only one qualification: fund-raising ability. Potential candidates quietly – and not so quietly – vying for the position are talking about their ability to raise money. After all, many people attribute the electoral success of the organization to its fund-raising prowess.

This concerns me, and it should concern all other members of our party.

Despite an ever growing number of people dissatisfied with the job that Scott Garrett – someone that even the extreme right wing of the republican party refers to as “a nut” – there was too much “me first” focus from the BCDO and next to nothing(which that is being generous) on a Congressional race that should have been a lot closer than it was.  There are many people to point fingers at.  There is much that can be “Monday Morning Quarterbacked” as to how or why Garrett was able to reverse the trend of decreasing margins of victory.

While NJ-5 is a district that essentially has three very different areas, three pretty different sets of priorities and three different demographic makeups – none of which is overly favorable to Democrats, Bergen County makes up around 60% of the overall districtwide voters and obviously has a significant impact on the election results.  And the BCDO has the ability to be a leading group in the promotion of and supporting of winning Democrats at all levels – not just local and not just statewide.

From what I’ve been able to gather, there was a tremendous lack of financial or other support for the Congressional candidate in both 2006 and 2008.  And for an organization that has been so successful at raising money, it is baffling that it wouldn’t be thinking of “issues” as much as enriching those who are on the inside – as we have now seen with the numerous investigations and indictments (with more investigations to come).  To not see the crumbling edifice that hides the underlying problems is not much different than someone like Ted Stevens or Larry Craig or Tom DeLay still try to hold onto power and hold back their party for turning the page.

If the BCDO would get behind a candidate that “gets it”, if they were to elect a leader that “gets it” – someone who sees the big picture of what this potentially powerful organization can do to not only get more Democrats elected locally, statewide and Federally, but also to advance an agenda that is both good for them and just as (if not more) importantly those who support them, it is a win-win situation.

If it goes in the same direction and becomes a “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” situation, all Bergen County Democrats are hurt by this.  The same corrupt me-first philosophy continues, the County doesn’t turn the page, nobody sees the big picture and the constituents lose.

And Scott Garrett is one big winner.

I’ll go back to the article that Paul wrote, because his conclusion is precisely what is needed (and he says it better than I can):

Again, money is important. It allows the party to promote its ideas, communicate its message and generate enthusiasm among a sometimes dispirited citizenry. But money is no substitute for good policy, good candidates and a good standing in our community. And fund raising is no substitute for good leadership.

Picking a new chairman provides the Bergen Democratic Party with both an opportunity and an obligation – an opportunity to renew its commitment to core Democratic principles (community, responsibility and opportunity) and an obligation to get it right.

“Better Know a (Legislative) District”

Promoted by Jason Springer:  Feel free to tell us about your Legislative District.

New Jersey, the state that constantly has an election looming, will be voting in 2009 for all 80 members of the General Assembly and the Governor’s office.  These races, along with municipal and county elections are all important in building party infrastructure and developing candidates for higher office.  Recruiting viable Assembly candidates, especially in districts that do not lean Democratic is difficult.  

My hometown of Wanaque is part of the 40th Legislative District, represented by Senator Kevin O’Toole and Assemblymen Scott Rumana and Dave Russo.  O’Toole is a moderate Republican from Cedar Grove ,who, fortunately is not on the ballot in 2009, because his presence at the top of the ticket would surely provide a bounce for the down ticket Assembly and local candidates.    

The 40th consists of parts of Essex, Bergen, and Passaic Counties and has a Republican tilt.  This is not a district a Democrat issupposed to win, but is definitely somewhere a Democrat can win if he/she has the right formula of name identification and fund raising ability.  

What’s Next in NJ-5?

After a disappointing 14% loss in a year when Democrats made gains all across the country NJ-5 can seem like a lost cause.  At the least, I thought we would build upon Paul Aronsohn’s gains and put Garrett in a vulnerable position going into 2010 and redistricting.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen and will make national and statewide support more unlikely in the next election cycle.  That’s fine, as Assemblywoman Stender learned the hard way, you can’t win elections without the interests within the district being organized and motivated.  

There are several steps that can be taken to building an infrastructure, with an emphasis on a town-by-town basis, to keep constituents aware of Garrett’s abysmal record and allow the candidate in 2010 to hit the ground running with a fully functioning field operation.  

To start I think we need a district blog, which can hopefully recruit bloggers from this site that can cover all of the geographic regions of the district.  By recruiting local bloggers from separate parts of the district we can establish what the concerns are on the local level and give the eventual candidate a platform of issues (and hopefully shortcomings on Garrett’s part) that the eventual nominee can exploit.  Moreover, we can recruit local Democratic Mayors and elected officials to author Op-Eds on the site to voice their concerns and raise the issues that Garrett isn’t delivering on.      

What happened in the Fifth?

With one of us being a resident of the fifth district and having to be represented by the odious Scott Garrett, we had hopes that this may be the year that he would be sent home for good.  However, even with polls indicating that the race was closing and closing fast over the last few weeks, as well as a pretty unfavorable view of the incumbent Garrett, major endorsements for challenger Dennis Shulman (a candidate with one of the best backgrounds, personalities and personal stories of this entire cycle) and events with prominent and popular Democratic Congressmen and Senators, three debates where Garrett looked the damn fool and a final week influx of $85,000 by the DCCC, the final results ended up being closer to 2004 than continuing to close the gap that 2006 challenger Paul Aronsohn was able to cut to near single digits.

And with this, we started to wonder how a race that, by many accounts, was potentially a tossup, ended up a 14% rout.

While trying to analyze the results, the campaigns that both Shulman and Garrett ran – including the late-in-the-game influx of disgraceful ads paid for by the NRCC and the results of past races, we came up with more questions than answers. The biggest and first question is whether this district is even remotely winnable by a Democrat.  We say this not as fatalists, but as people who have realized the value that building up a sustainable infrastructure can bring, as people who know how very different each county is within the district and as people who can sense some very basic flaws in what little infrastructure has been built up in the district.  On a more fundamental level, we wonder if the Fifth has earned the respect to receive an earlier endorsement as a “Red to Blue” district or earlier financial support from the DCCC – both of which could have certainly helped, but the distinction and funds may have also been better served in more winnable races earlier in the cycle.

Before looking at the vote breakdown, and trying to see where things could have changed in this cycle, it is fairly evident that the district will be extremely tough to win in one cycle – especially if we don’t start to build up critical infrastructure now.  In Bergen County, the BCDO is a mess, to say the least, with Ferriero in, shall we say, “hot water,” and no indication as to if or when he will step down from his Chairmanship.  With this matter still in limbo, it would be very difficult for a Democrat to run on a “clean government” platform and be taken seriously enough to flip a 53/47 deficit to a 52/48 win in the county.  It isn’t an accident that there was such a disappointment that even the top Democratic Freeholders saw a near 20% dropoff in her votes from Obama, as noted today in the Bergen Record.

The Jersey Comeback

Sometimes, the most important question in politics is, to paraphrase Janet Jackson, “what have you won for me lately?” In New Jersey, politicians don’t have to go away after losses – they can retool, reinvent themselves, and reemerge as winners. It’s the Jersey Comeback.

We’ve seen it happen in statewide races – from Governor Whitman in 1993 after her 1990 Senate loss, to Governor McGreevey in 2001 after his 1997 general election loss. But, we’ve also seen the opposite – the repeat statewide loser – think Forrester for Senate in 2002 and for Governor in 2005, or Schundler for Governor in the 2001 general and the 2005 primary.

But, what kind of year is 2008 for the Jersey Comeback? So far, it has been a good one – for local comebacks anyway. We saw it happen earlier this year – when Dan Benson took office as a Mercer County Freeholder after an unsuccessful bid for Assembly in 2005. And, yesterday – it happened locally again.

First up – Ridgewood, where former 5th District Congressional Candidate Paul Aronsohn, who came up short in his bid for Congress in 2006, won his race for council along with 2 other challengers, ousting 2 incumbents, including the former frontrunner for mayor. The new 5-member council will choose the next mayor at its July 1 reorganization meeting. Don’t be surprised if Paul emerges as the new frontrunner for mayor in this important 5th District town.

Next up – Bradley Beach, speaking of new mayors, you might remember Julie Schreck, who hitched her wagon to Dennis Kucinich’s campaign and ably stumped for him at last year’s NJ Presidential Caucus. Well, the Kucinich campaign didn’t get very far, but Schreck dusted off, ran for mayor, and won.

The Jersey Comeback, a proud tradition – if at first you don’t succeed, try try again. It’s alive and well locally in 2008, but will it translate statewide?

Can Rob Andrews make the ultimate Jersey Comeback – over ten years out from his 1997 primary loss to McGreevey?

We’ll know in just 3 weeks. But, you can vote in the poll right now.