Tag Archive: Terry Duffy

Petty Politics in the 9th

promoted by Rosi

When comparing two progressive Democrats with fairly identical voting records, one cannot be surprised that the differences raised between them are more superficial than substantive. After all, I think we can all agree that the Democratic primary in the 9th will do nothing to raise the tone of our political debate. But out of the gate, the Rothman and Pascrell camps have engaged in the petty politics that is both unnecessary and, arguably, unhelpful to both their campaigns.

First off, because of the two Democrats’ similarities, Pascrell’s criticism of Rothman’s decision to run away from a fight with Garrett is strong. How can Rothman claim to be a bold progressive when he was unwilling to make a bold stand against NJ’s most conservative Congressman? It’s an argument that resonates among the progressive community especially, and in many ways, it is an argument that makes itself.

But the move by the Pascrell-Duffy camp to try to reinforce the message, by having Duffy stage a fake, rehearsed flirtation with a Congressional run in the 5th was wrong. In addition, the disrespect Pascrell-Duffy showed the voters of the 5th District in the process weakened their main criticism of Rothman, that he was unwilling to seriously challenge Garrett.

McQueeny Regrets He’s Unable To Run Today

In the roller coaster world of Democratic candidates for the 5th CD, Matt Friedman, State House Bureau, reports today that Jim McQueeny has abruptly cancelled his plan to run. Yesterday afternoon an event in Oradell was announced for this Sunday to launch his campaign.  McQueeny now says, “The suddenness of the opportunity, with events propelled further by the enthusiastic response to it, just didn’t allow for the proper time for me and my business partners to transition the work of our company’s customers.” He now joins Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen) and NFL legend Harry Carson who said they were considering a candidacy but later removed themselves from consideration.

Amidst the disarray presented to the county Democratic committees, there remain three candidates. Deputy Teaneck Mayor Adam Gussen, who appears to have gained little traction or support, is on the Bergen County Democratic Committee endorsement ballot (as was McQueeny) for its meeting scheduled for March 15. Passaic County Freeholder Director Terry Duffy, who has never formally removed himself from the campaign, did not obtain necessary signatures to be on the ballot. Duffy had said he expected McQueeny to enter the race and win the Bergen Democratic endorsement, at which point Duffy would be a “team player” and exit the race. Entering too late to be on the ballot is 30-year old Jason (J Paul) Castle, a Marine Corps veteran and current information technology executive who has never run for political office.

Whoever will ultimately run against incumbent Representative Scott Garrett will face a number of challenges – one of which is money. With  campaign expenditures in each cycle continuing to increase exponentially, cash matters and particularly so in this expensive media market where the  challenger is running against a long-time, entrenched incumbent. As Vice Chair of the House Budget Committee, Garrett is a natural recipient of financial largesse. In the 2011-12 cycle he started out with $861,000 in Beginning Cash. He added $671,000 in Individual Contributions, $150 in Party Committee Contributions (not very impressive) and  $525,000 in PAC or Other Contributions (impressive.)  As of December 31, 2011, of all incumbents in nearby districts Garrett has the largest amount of Cash On Hand: $1,712,000. In comparison: Rothman (D-09): $1,704,000, Pascrell (D- currently in 08 but running in 09): $1,496,000, Payne (D-10): $1,411,000, Lance (R-07): $513,000, Frelinghuysen (R-11): $440,000, and Sires (D-13): $234,000). In the 5th CD no other candidate reported any Cash On Hand as of December 31, 2011.

In the Cole Porter song alluded to in the title of this diary, Miss Otis feels it’s her personal responsibility to inform her host that she will not be able to attend the event. Curiously, in the case of McQueeny’s candidacy, he himself has been largely mum, allowing his plans to maybe run, then to run, and today not to run to be announced through third parties or the press.  

Race for the 5th CD Heats Up

Update: The Star Ledger reported this afternoon Jim McQueeny will announce he is seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Rep. Scott Garrett in the 5th Congressional District on Sunday at an event in Oradell.

Suspense continues to build over who will run against ultraconservative Representative Scott Garrett in the 5th Congressional District. Jim McQueeny has not yet formally entered the fray, but he and Deputy Teaneck Mayor Adam Gussen will be on the Bergen County endorsement  ballot at its March 15 convention. Bergen County has the largest number of registered voters in the CD, which also includes parts of Sussex, Warren and Passaic. Sussex County Democrats will next meet on March 22 and Warren County Democrats on April 7.

According to the New Jersey Herald, Passaic County Freeholder Director Terry Duffy, who has not formally removed himself from the campaign, has just said he expects McQueeny will enter the race and win the Bergen Democratic endorsement at its March 15 convention, and at that point, Duffy would be a “team player” and exit the race.

Entering too late to be on the ballot is 30-year old Jason (J Paul) Castle, a Marine Corps veteran and current information technology executive. On his facebook page Castle says he is a moderate Democrat who grew up in Rahway. He lives in Cliffside Park and says he plans to move to Teaneck. He has never run for political office.

Jim McQueeny who recently removed himself as host of Cablevision’s News 12 “Power and Politics” show, is Chairman of Winning Strategies, a public relations firm that specializes in corporate communications, issues campaign management, grasroots mobilization, and healthcare PR. He worked on President Carter’s 1980 re-election campaign, served as Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s chief of staff and spokesman, and served as communications director for Democrats in the state Assembly. See here for more information on McQueeny.

In the meantime Republican Rep. Scott Garrett holds a substantial warchest as he seeks re-election in the redistricted 5th. As Vice Chairman of the House Budget Committee, he is busy promoting limited government, lower taxes and other items on the Tea Party and far-right agenda. On a scale of 0 to 100 the American Conservative Union has granted him a lifetime rating of 100. The Americans for Democratic Action in 2010 granted him a 5. The National Right to Life over the past years has rated him at 91 to 100 and Planned Parenthood consistently at 0.

Jim McQueeny To The Rescue?

After a long drought in which Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen) and former NFL star Harry Carson considered and then rejected a run against Republican Representative Scott Garrett in the 5th Congressional District, we now hear news that another worthy opponent may enter the fray. Although not yet a formal candidate, Mahwah resident Jim McQueeny is considering  a run. McQueeny has the chops. He brings extensive political experience, an articulate voice, support for progressive issues, name recognition, state-wide contacts, and a quiet but persuasive manner. He also has a sense of humor as seen in this amusing take on politics in Trenton. In fair disclosure I was ejected from the 9th CD and jettisoned into 5th and have met and talked with McQueeny in the past. He brings the skills to succeed – to deliver us from the wilderness that Garrett imposed on this district, to support programs that truly benefit his constituents, and to add another Democratic voice to the U.S. Congress.  

He would have the support of the newly transplanted Democrats in the 5th CD. More importantly, with his past experience as a Star Ledger news reporter and Channel 12 TV host, he understands and can address the concerns of many constituents who might otherwise vote for Garrett.  As head of Winning Strategies, his public relations and lobbying firm, he has learned how to be effective in dealing with those who initially might not be supportive of what he seeks. As a former Chief of Staff of Senator Frank Lautenberg he was an effective spokesman for this progressive senator but also one who understood the issues on the other side of the aisle.

As of now Passaic County Freeholder Terry Duffy and Teaneck Deputy Mayor Adam Gussen have expressed interest in running on the Democratic slate, but it is Jim McQueeny who would bring the winning strategies.

Rothman Can Still Change His Mind

How to strike the right note in this diary. Now, that’s a challenge. As someone who has been an outspoken fan of primaries, I certainly can’t and won’t join the chorus of Democratic leaders horrified by Steve Rothman’s decision to run against Bill Pascrell in a primary solely because a primary is expensive or can be divisive. Sometimes, primaries are important ideological fights and can be valuable party-building opportunities.

Unfortunately, the situation in NJ-9 is clearly neither: Steve Rothman, unhappy with the outcome of Congressional Redistricting, is moving from his home in Fair Lawn 10 miles east to somewhere in Englewood for the sole purpose of challenging his fellow Democrat, Bill Pascrell, because he calculates that’s the best way to stay in Congress.

Instead of using his sizeable war chest – and up to $2 million additional dollars of funding from the DCCC – to challenge Scott Garrett, we now get to watch him spend that money against his friend, a democratic colleague with whom he has no ideological or political dispute. At a minimum, I considered this a disappointing decision, which I assumed was reached after much soul-searching.

So, I was shocked to learn that Rothman never seriously weighed running against Republican Scott Garrett. While nearly every democrat in New Jersey rejoiced at what appeared to be the potential finally to take out our most conservative tea-party Congressman, Steve Rothman never even seriously considered that opportunity.

That’s a huge loss for the Democratic Party. Rothman is running away from a winnable fight with Scott Garrett, and running against one of the most effective – and most progressive – members of Congress. If the City of Paterson had been moved into Scott Garrett’s district, we all know Bill Pascrell would be all in trying to take Garrett out. And that contrast is something I think Democrats can and should fairly take into consideration when evaluating who they are supporting this June.  

It’s no secret where I stand.  I was on a long list of Bergen, Hudson and Passaic County officials endorsing Bill Pascrell.  I’m standing with Pascrell for a lot of reasons – his strong record fighting for the middle class, his tireless work to obtain national park status for the Great Falls and his commitment to job creation.  But I’m also disappointed.  Disappointed Rothman would rather start this fight than take on a Tea Party Republican we’ve been trying to oust for years.

As the Record’s Al Doblin noted, if Rothman were to run against Garrett, “Even if [he] lost, he would win” – a hero among democrats for taking on the fight. Instead, Rothman’s putting himself in a position where the exact opposite might happen.

I’m still hoping he reconsiders. Or at least gives it serious consideration.

Kicking Off the General Election Campaign

After a hard fought primary campaign, the Democratic Party is united and energized for the general election.  The progress we made in Haledon is visible throughout the town-on our streets, in our parks, and with our quality of life. And, together, we need to continue that progress for four more years.  The final two-month sprint starts today, and we need to work at every level to elect Democrats this November.  

Passaic County Democrats were hit with a bombshell when Sheriff Jerry Speziale resigned to take a job with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Although this was disappointing news, as Sheriff Speziale was a strong partner and an asset for Haledon, I am excited about our new Sheriff candidate and the unique skills he brings to the table.  Clifton Lt. Richard Berdnik is a strong candidate who will keep Passaic County families safe, efficiently manage the Sheriff Department’s budget, and bring an outside perspective to reforming our prison system.  Our Passaic County Democratic Committee meeting to ratify Berdnik was a monumental event – you can read my tweets to see how it all played out that night in Paterson.  

Up-and-down the Row B bracket the Passaic County Democratic Committee has strong candidates to serve our families and our community.  Congressman Bill Pascrell has a track record of delivering for the 8th Congressional District and Haledon specifically, bringing in stimulus dollars to renovate our infrastructure. When we needed assistance upgrading the Roe Street Park, Freeholders Terry Duffy and Pat Lepore were there for us.  Together, we worked to earmark the funds through the county open space grant program and now our children are benefiting from the upgrades and improvements.    

The Real Democrats in Haledon

I am happy to report that the protracted battle over who will be placed on the Passaic County Democratic Organization, Inc. line is finally over.  Justice prevailed as my team – Council President Maha Kandis and council candidates Mounir Almaita and Michael Johnson – will be bracketed with Sheriff Jerry Speziale and Freeholders Terry Duffy and Pat Lepore.  

We are the real Democrats in this race.  Over the last eight years we have accomplished some special things in Haledon.  We energized a community to rally behind Democratic policies and platforms as real solutions to the problems Haledon was facing, and we are delivering.  From improving our infrastructure to holding the line on taxes, you can see progress all over Haledon.  

So when I read this blog post, I thought I would fill everyone in with what is going on in Haledon.  This wasn’t a battle between political bosses; it was a desperate attempt by our opponents to undermine the law.  Chairman Currie is supporting our team because he knows we are the real Democrats in this race, and that is why he designated our team to be on the Passaic County Democratic Organization, Inc. line.

Jerry Volpe does not represent local Democrats in Haledon.  Councilman Michael Tirri and I were first elected to the Council 7 years ago because we were in the community everyday, talking with residents and proposing real solutions.  My council team and I will always be putting Haledon first, not patronage and power; our agenda is to continue to deliver for our community and keep the progress going.  

Volpe is in this only for political reasons.  He is a relic from the days of backroom politics for personal gain.   That is why we are running a full slate County Committee candidates to oust him as our leader.  We need a Municipal Leader who has the interests of the Haledon Democratic party in mind first, not a personal agenda.  

This primary in Haledon is important for a lot of reasons.  We need to be electing progressive Democrats up-and-down the levels of government in New Jersey to strengthen our party.  I hope I can count on your support over the next 35 days to win this campaign.  We are going to need volunteers to phone bank and get out the vote on June 8th, and I hope the progressive community can play a role in those efforts.