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Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

“A tireless campaigner.”

“An army of true Believers.”

“Supporters who would walk into a wall for her.”

These are just some of the phrases I have heard to describe the upstart Tea Party campaign of 6th Congressional District candidate Anna Little.

In as much as the Tea ( Taxed Enough Already ) Party has momentum in New Jersey…it might very well be this race. The incumbent Frank Pallone was a key backer of the Obamacare legislation, so a win for Little would be a huge symbolic victory for the movement. It would also create the odd dynamic of putting New Jersey on the forefront of an upstart grassroots conservative movement for change.

I am told that the numbers don’t lie. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the 6th and that, as they say, should be all she wrote….Right? Not necessarily. This is no ordinary election. Dems may very well stay home. And those who are motivated to vote might very well be the kinds of people who are – well, motivated to vote for someone like Anna Little. Not to mention that Christie ( a more traditional Republican…but a Repub nonetheless ) won the district by 8%.

And we know that The Governor himself who has been campaigning for out of state races all over the country has suddenly taken an interest in Little. Perhaps his team knows something. Scratch that, they definitely know something. The Governor’s own pollster has Little within 1 point and he allowed that poll to be leaked. These are all signs that there could be a seismic shift here on election night. And Christie doesn’t want to be seen as shunning The Tea Party candidate even though he backed The Gooch ( who was apparently too busy beating up Arnold Drummond and his two sidekicks Dudley and Robbie ) to win this race.

So, while Pallone has traditionally had a safe and comfortable ride here, we don’t yet know who the Tea Party is, so we shouldn’t count them out.

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I was recently reminded of what is easily my favorite political story of the last five years. It involves Democrat Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts candidate for Senate who was running in a special election earlier this year.

Toward the end of what was universally panned as one of the most neglected and worst run campaigns in MA Democratic political history, Coakley made some comment ( and I’m paraphrasing here ) along the lines of, “what do you expect me to do??!! stand outside Fenway Park to shake hands??!! In the cold?!! I don’t think so.”

Really. Well, we all know what happened next. Scott Brown the Playgirl centerfold went on to defeat her with his simple retort about the seat they were both seeking not belonging to Kennedy ( Teddy, who held it for about 176 years ) but to the people of the Commonwealth.

I’m reminded of this for a couple of reasons. First off, Repubs have begun a  whisper campaign that both Holt and Pallone are in trouble in their normally safe districts. That may be true. But the real danger for the Democrats is in the 3rd which we recently learned was not underestimated at all by the South J Dems. According to the implication in Jane Roh’s excellent stories…the Dems took Runyan so seriously, the created a fake Tea Party candidate to siphon off 5% of the vote…which might be just enough for Adler to win.

The 3rd is one of the three races State House people have been watching closely. the others are the 14th Legislative District and The Bergen Exec race.

Governor Christie has not been very visible in any of these. That’s not to say he is not doing what he can behind the scenes…but it is slightly odd. The 3rd is a high profile Congressional race in a year pundits are predicting a “Republican Tsunami.” The Bergen race is key to a large county that I am sure the Governor would like to win in 2013. And the 14th is the first true test of the Governor’s positions and policies in a swing district.

Here is what I have been told. Up in Bergen, Christie is still annoyed he didn’t win the county and has not been thrilled with some of the positions Kathe Donovan has taken. Meantime, At least one Dem says they are happy over in camp McNerney that Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club has decided to be so vocal for Donovan because that might actually help The Democratic ticket in a county fed up with environmental regs.

As for the 14th…it’s a bit more of a mystery. Insiders tell me that Goodwin is up more than 10, according to internals. That might explain why Greenstein went so negative about women’s health ( the ad actually features a pink ribbon on a gravestone ). Christie may not want to rehash that debate on the campaign trail even if it’s for a fellow Repub and not himself.

Or perhaps the Governor will jump into all three with both feet in the next coupla weeks. After all, he has been jetting all around the country for fellow Republican Gov candidates in other states.

So, I guess the message is this…don’t take anything for granted. These three races are significant for the Republican party and Christie doesn’t want to be seen as the guy who goes on MSNBC but refuses to shake hands outside the local stadium.

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Profile Pieces

Here are the two district profile stories I put together for NJN News Broadcast – the 7th and the 3rd. I add them to the “Zachary Fink Blog” without further comment.

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So, I have now covered a coupla of these primary races and I think I can sum them up nicely ( at least on the Republican side ) with these words: “I’m from the tea party!” “No, I am!” “No, I am the true Tea party guy!”

I was sorta reminded of that old MTV Half-Hour Comedy Hour bit about Herve Villechaiz getting really mad about not being cast as Bruce Wayne in the 1989 Batman movie which caused him to jump up and down screaming “No, I’m de batman!!!” “I’m de batman!!” ( Trust me…that is a very funny joke if you have ever seen it…and yes, I mean the Herve Villechaiz from fantasy Island )

When did it become so unglamorous to simply call yourself a Republican? I mean, didn’t being one used to stand for fiscal restraint, untangling government regs and putting the brakes on the liberal agenda? What’s wrong with that??? Whether you agree with those things or not, they are certainly respectable enough principles to guide how you define your politics.

It just goes to show how people can be seduced by the latest fad or trend. For months we have been hearing about how badly spanked the Democrats will get this November. Well, I’m not so sure. There is a lot of anger and anti-incumbency out there…sure… but it cuts both ways. Democrats meantime are hoping to capitalize on that same hostility by motivating those voters to them.

I spoke to Samantha Gordon this week who is helping roll out the Organizing For America 2010 campaign plan. The idea is re-energize those voters who came out strong for Obama in 2008. That year, 600,000 new voters went to the polls in New Jersey. Where are they now, and will they come out again? Hard to say on both fronts. I would argue that some of those new voters who jumped on the Obama bandwagon just as quickly jumped on the Christie one in 2009. In other words, that new energy is not necessarily Democratic. They could just as easily pull the lever for a Republican they like.

Anyway, Organizing For America is the Obama grassroots org which is funded through the DNC. They are not just registering people this year, but asking them to sign pledge cards. Sounds gimmicky like “The Contract With America,” doesn’t it?? They had previously been organizing people to support the President’s agenda, but they are now converting that energy ( including phone banking ) to encourage voter turnout – as long as those voters vote D.

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The flip the script moment in the great national health care debate came late in the game. In January, after the Scott Brown victory in Tax-achusetts, it seemed like there wasn’t much of a public appetite for comprehensive reform.

But a couple of months later it was the President himself  who pointed out that Republicans keep yelling from the rooftops ( And by that I mean on Fox News ) that the Democrats will suffer a major bloodbath in the mid-term elections if this massive health care bill ( which besides being enormously complicated essentially expands Medicaid ) goes through. This is from a March 8th NY Times article:

“We may be nearing the final act for this bill and the legislative process,” the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said in a floor speech on Monday. “It’s just the beginning for those who support it. Americans don’t want this bill. They’re telling us to start over. The only people who don’t seem to be getting the message are Democrat leaders in Washington.”

Mr. Obama scoffed at Mr. McConnell’s warning.

“First of all, I generally wouldn’t take advice about what’s good for Democrats” from a Republican, Mr. Obama said to laughter in Pennsylvania. “But setting aside that, that’s not the issue here. The issue here is not the politics of it.”

Of course we know what happened next…the bill was signed on March 23rd. And here is the funny thing…Obamacare may wind up helping New Jersey ( the state which elected the antithesis of Obama nine months after the new prez took office ). I’m told that certain Federal Medicaid rebates ( perhaps up to 8% ) for managed care may become available in the third quarter of this year. That could mean tens of millions of dollars that would help restore funding which will enable the state to make funds available elsewhere and perhaps soften the blow of other proposed cuts.

We caught a glimpse of this recently with the restoration of the Senior Gold and PAAD programs. It appears as though there might be additional monies beyond even that. It might allow the Christie Administration more flexibility with health care dollars and an ability to claim ownership of the economy and the budget just as these dollars are kicking in, and the overall economic picture improves.

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It’s that time of the year again. The New Jersey Press Association presents the Legislative Correspondent’s Club annual show.

Basically, the state’s  ( now dwindling ) press corps performs a series of skits and songs that mock the political and media elite of the Garden State. It is often quite funny replete with costumes, wigs and other flamboyant accessories that would make even Elton John blush.

As for my role…well, I am El Presidente this year. That means I don’t actually have to sing ( which is not my strong suit ). I have to deliver the introductory speech which is supposed to be funny and slightly mean spirited. Well, I don’t know how funny it shall be, although I’m working on it. It will most certainly be biting, and of course familiar.

Then of course, after the show is over, people get to stand around and hang out in a cocktail party-type atmosphere which is even more fun. And the whole evening is off the record. So, if you are remotely interested, I urge you to purchase tickets. Proceeds go to charity.

Contact Peg Stephan 609-406-0600 ext. 14. or pastephan@njpa.org

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Years ago…NJN had funding for a show called “Congress Watch.” It ran for about year, and it consisted of sitting down with each member of the NJ Congressional delegation for a half hour.

To be truthful, with many of those interviews there just wasn’t all that much to talk about. And the show died a relatively painless death along with the funding that came with it.

Sometimes New Jersey doesn’t pay much attention to what’s going in Congress. After all, the job doesn’t come with state contracts or patronage jobs. But that doesn’t mean what our delegation is doing should be ignored. Last year, the Garden State elected two new members – Leonard Lance in the 7th, and John Adler in the 3rd. Since then, there have been a couple of high profile votes that are worth noting, and could even help shape whether or not those two newly elected fellows keep their seats.

The DNC has begun running radio ads in 32 districts against Republicans who voted against the landmark health care legislation which passed the House on November 8 by a vote of 220 -215.

Two of those Republicans are in New Jersey – Frank LoBiondo, and the aforementioned Lance. let’s leave LoBiondo aside for minute…because who cares, right??! ( Sorry, there is that attitude about Congress again ).

Let’s talk about Lance for a minute, who some believe is more likely to face a challenge from the right over his “yes” vote on Obama’s cap and trade environmental legislation. Lance says he voted against Obamacare because it adds new taxes and won’t fix the problem. I don’t know enough to determine whether or not that is true. But here is what I do know: Adler ( a Democrat ) also voted against the health care bill. So why isn’t the DNC targeting him?????

I mean, if the people of New Jersey want comprehensive health care reform and Congress was prepared to deliver it, why shouldn’t the whole delegation be on board?? Or if they are not, why are some guilty and others innocent? I think it’s fair to say that there is a bit of hypocrisy here. In fairness, Adler is from a district that hasn’t voted for a Dem in nearly a century and a quarter  ( until 2008 when they voted for Adler ). So I can see giving him a pass. But then doesn’t Lance deserve one for voting his conscience?

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