Tag Archive: jon runyan

Good Luck to Our New Members of Congress

New Jersey’ Progressive community is thrilled that Bonnie Watson Coleman will be sworn in as our first female African-American member of Congress on Tuesday. It takes an outstanding person to fill the seat vacated by Rush Holt, but Watson Coleman is up to the task.

But there’s another new Congressperson from the Garden State being sworn in this week. In the Third Congressional District, where I live, there’s a changing of the Republican guard. Jon Runyan, whose claim to fame was hitting big men on the NFL football field, is being replaced by Tom MacArthur, whose claim to fame is his purchase of a congressional seat with $5 million of his own money – a national record for a self-funded campaign.

One might be tempted to find a silver lining in all of this. After all, by self-funding his election, MacArthur is not beholden to the Burlington or Ocean County political machines. Indeed, the reason the North Jersey mayor received the nomination in the first place is his ability to fund the campaign himself.

But we should beware of false optimism. On the campaign trail, MacArthur’s positions were to the right of Runyan’s and in line with the Tea Party rhetoric that has stained the House of Representatives for the past decade.

Yet, like it or not, he is my Congressman. So I wish him luck and will give him the benefit of the doubt. At least for a nanosecond. If he works for us and does things right, like save the Joint Base, the region’s largest employer, from losing missions or being closed entirely, then I’ll give him the praise he deserves. But if he votes the way I fear he will – for the 1 percent at the expense of the rest of us –  he’ll hear from me, too.

Happy New Year, Mr. MacArthur. Even though your family still resides outside the district, I hope you’ll keep the best interests of all of your constituents in mind.

Another “hold your nose” vote to avert a government shutdown

Update Sun. 8:30 am: The Omnibus 2015 federal spending bill passed the Senate Saturday night 56 to 40 averting a government shutdown. Both Senators Menendez and Booker joined progressives and others and voted against the bill. Sen. Booker said the bill would roll back regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act, compromise truck safety, and interfere with the rights of Washington, D.C. residents to change their marijuana laws. Sen. Menendez said, “The rollback of critical Wall Street reform provisions puts taxpayers on the hook to bail Wall Street out again. Moreover, this last-minute add-on – a poison pill written by large financial institutions – sets the table for more attacks on the protections I fought to put in place following the financial collapse.”

Not so long ago the NJ legislature used to have an annual Christmas tree bill which was sprung upon the membership and laden with all sorts of holiday goodies inserted by individual legislators. This week in the House of Representatives with little more than two days to review the bill, leadership sprung their $1.1 trillion Christmas tree bill to fund the government next year and avert a federal shutdown.

The bill narrowly passed 219 votes to 206. Many Republicans did not like the bill for the generic reason that it calls for “too much government spending,” and because the act does not explicitly block President Barack Obama from implementing his Executive Order on immigration. Republicans voted 162 in favor and 67 against.  Many Democrats did not like the bill because it weakens Dodd-Frank consumer legislation and because it increases substantially the amount donors can contribute to political parties. Democrats voted 57 in favor and 139 against.

The House Speaker Republican John Boehner never had enough Republican votes to pass the bill, so he relied on support from Democrats. The White House vigorously lobbied Democrats for passage as did Steny Hoyer, Democratic Whip. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke out and voted against it. Five of our NJ Democrats refused to “hold their nose” and vote for it and instead voted against it.  

2013-2014 Congressional Casualty List – NJ

Roll Call published a Casualty List today for the 113th Congress, those members who for various reasons won’t be returning to Congress in January. They did some math and figure that’s 1,254 years of experience total that won’t be back. That’s a lot of incumbency, and the circumstances of the New Jersey four speak to how hard it is to overcome the campaign advantages of that incumbency, which include the powerful trappings of a federal seat, general goodwill towards local representatives (even where Congress itself is disparaged), and the freebie franking privilege which so many members of Congress use to send self-congratulatory mail that walks and talks like campaign lit but the taxpayers get the bill.

Of the NJ four leaving office, none were beaten by upstart challengers, to the eternal frustrations especially of those who rallied behind NJ-5’s Roy Cho (against the should-be vulnerable pre-Tea Party winger Scott Garrett) and NJ-3’s Aimee Belgard (whose fortunes rose then fell in the open seat Tom MacArthur bought for himself). All four new members – Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Don Norcross and incoming House members Bonnie Watson Coleman and Tom MacArthur – take seats that were vacated by retirement, resignation or death.  

Keystone Kops and Keystone Pipeline Gain New Adherents

The saga of the Keystone Kops like the Keystone Pipeline is one of unsuccessful, seemingly incompetent people repeatedly failing in a venture which in this case increases carbon emissions, could cause significant environmental damage and is still under study. For the ninth time the House voted on Friday to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline – 252 to 161.The roll call for our New Jersey Representatives was not what you might expect.

Republicans in the NJ delegation all voted YES to approve Keystone including Rep. Jon Runyan (R) who continues in office until January when his successor Tom MacArthur (R) is sworn in. Among the Democratic delegation the newly minted Don Norcross (replacing the already departed Rob Andrews) and Albio Sires also both voted YES. Donald Payne did not vote. The three remaining Democrats voted NO including Rush Holt who in January will be succeeded by Bonnie Watson Coleman (D).

Norcross said “I am proud to stand with members of both parties to support this project that can transform the American economy and put our nation back on the path of lasting growth.” As a candidate his platform supported “Job creation and Economic Development,” but did not mention energy policy. He calls himself an “Advocate for South Jersey,” but while the pipeline has national consequences its impact on South Jersey is considerably less significant. When he was sworn in he said he would “specifically like to serve on the House Committee of Energy and Commerce.” He might be welcomed by the Republican majority on the committee but his vote seems out of sync with his Democratic colleagues.

Rep. Albio Sires’ most recent website posting is a statement on Veterans Day, but there is no mention as to why he supported the pipeline. In fact in the past he supported an amendment to a bill (which did not pass) that would have required “a study of the vulnerabilities of the Keystone XL pipeline to a terrorist attack.”

As Roll Call points out, “the bill would still need 60-votes in the Democratic Senate before heading to President Barack Obama’s desk – a tall, but perhaps achievable order.” The House vote did not reach the veto-proof level. President Obama has never expressed support for the pipeline, but he has not said definitively that he will veto it.  

Election November 4, 2014

FYI – We are also monitoring results on Twitter @BlueJersey.

Revised through early Wednesday morning:


U. S. Senate  

Booker (D)

House of Representatives

Norcross (D-01), LoBiondo (R-02), MacArthur (R-03), Smith (R-04), Garrett (R-05), Pallone (D-06), Lance (R-07), Sires (D-08), Pascrell (D-09), Payne (D-10), Frelinghuysen (R-11), Coleman (D-12)

Republicans gain control of the U. S. Senate.  Republicans 52, Democrats 44, Independent 1 and still undecided 3.

WE WILL HAVE SIX DEMOCRATS AND SIX REPUBLICANS IN OUR DELEGATION (no change in the balance). We are proud of having the first NJ African-American woman congressperson Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12). The other new members of our delegation are Donald Norcross (D-01) and Tom MacArthur(R-03).

Below the fold: Updated Election results


  • Each NJ Congressional District: Who won in the prior 2012 election and by how many points over the challenger, and the most recent poll where available, plus individual winner projections.

  •  The one U. S. Senate race: 2013 results, the most recent poll, and projected winner. (No surprise here.)

  •  National U.S. Senate: Current Senate party membership split, number necessary for Republicans to take control, with an overall projection.

  • National House of Representatives: Current House party membership split, and an overall winner projection.

  •  National Governors: Current party membership split, and overall projection.    

  • Three Competitive Congressional Races

    My June 4 diary, Yesterday’s Congressional Primaries and November’s Election indicated, “So with six Democratic seats likely to remain Democratic, are there other seats where Democrats can oust a Republican? Below are three districts where Democratic challengers may be poised to launch a strong campaign:” CD 3 (“With Jon Runyan (R) resigning, this open seat probably offers the best chance for a Democratic upset. The race is probably a toss-up at this moment.”), CD 2 (“Perhaps the land is now a little more shaky with Democrat William Hughes as the challenger. This is another battleground where the fight will be difficult but possibly winnable.”), and CD5 (“Roy Cho (D) may yet offer strong competition. It is clearly a difficult, uphill battle, but victory would be so sweet.”) Fast forward to today: In these three congressional districts Democrats have indeed launched strong campaigns.

    Doing battle successfully against incumbents, as in CD 2 and CD 5, is never easy nor in CD 3, which with the exception of John Adler in 2010, has long voted Republican. It will require all hands on deck. With less than a month to go, see below the fold for an update, and join the fray.

    There’s No Such Thing as an Off Year Election

    Most Americans focus on the quadrennial Presidential election, and even there, only on the top of the ballot. By doing so, they abdicate their responsibilities as citizens and then bitch and moan about government.

    Off-year elections and down-ballot positions are critically important – not just for the term of those being selected to serve, but also for years to come – especially in New Jersey where we elect our governor and legislature in odd-numbered years. Let’s take a look at past and future elections to see how they have an impact well beyond the terms of the winners.

    Which Party Puts Up Qualified Candidates in NJ-3?

    Republican Congressman Jim Saxton represented New Jersey’s Third Congressional District for a quarter-century. Let’s take a look at the candidates from both parties who ran or are running for that seat since then.

    On the Republican side, we had a business executive who later turned out to be a sex offender, an eminently unqualified but popular NFL star, and an out-of-district millionaire who is attempting to buy the seat.

    On the Democratic side, we had a popular, fiercely smart Harvard-educated State Senator, then his equally qualified widow, and now an advocate for environmental protection and health care.

    While both parties want to win, it seems like the Democrats are taking this business of representational government more seriously.