Tuesday, November 29, 2016

What's Next For Progressive Politics In New Jersey? John Wisniewski?


Before Bernie gave any indication he would run for president, Blue America started a Draft Bernie ActBlue page. The day he announced he was running, Blue America endorsed him-- our first-ever presidential endorsement-- and started collecting money for his campaign. Later we started the first ActBlue page to collect money for Berniecrat candidates. We raised 10,529 contributions for federal candidates who endorsed Bernie-- from incumbents like Raul Grijalva, Keith Ellison, Alan Grayson, Peter Welch and Marcy Kaptur and for high profile Bernie-backing candidates like Pramila Jayapal, Zephyr Teachout, Tim Canova and John Fetterman to lesser known candidates like Dave McTeague in Oregon, Bao Nguyen, Lou Vince, Wendy Reed and Bill Ostrander in California, Eloy Delgado, Alex Law and Peter Jacob in New Jersey and Mike Manypenny in West Virginia.

Even though Blue America had endorsed Ruben Kihuen for Nevada's 4th congressional district, we added his primary opponent, Lucy Flores, to our Berniecrat page... because, even if we thought Ruben was a better candidate and would be better positioned to beat right-wing fanatic Cresent Hardy-- which he did-- we admired and respected Lucy and appreciated the issues she was running on and the backing she was giving Bernie and our revolution. But we never did seriously consider any of the fakers and frauds who tried to capitalize on Bernie's movement and momentum for their own gain. We laughed at Wall Street twerp Shawn O'Conner in New Hampshire (our candidate, Carol Shea-Porter won that seat) even when Bernie got taken in by this phony conservative. We laughed even harder when the most right-wing nut Democrat in Congress, Collin Peterson, the Minnesota Blue Dog who votes against virtually every single thing Bernie is for, endorsed Bernie. Of course we didn't endorse him. Nor did we endorse Fox News Dem and homophobic lunatic Tulsi Gabbard, a run-of-the-mill conservaDem from Hawaii with an "F" score from ProgressivePunch who was canonized by naive Bernie fans who were trying out politics for the first time.

People have records that go back before they endorsed Bernie (for whatever reason) or, again for whatever reason, they endorsed Hillary. Blue America has a bullshit detector. We know the difference between a Zephyr Teachout and a Tulsi Gabbard or between a Tim Canova, who battled against unfair trade deals for years before Bernie decided to run, and a Shawn O'Connor who was advocating cutting Social Security and Medicare as part of a Grand Bargain two weeks before he changed his electoral strategy and decided to hop on the Bernie bandwagon.

Last week Jeffrey Trachtenberg reported in the Wall Street Journal that Bernie's new book, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, is flying off the book shelves. (You can buy a copy at the DownWithTyranny Book Shoppe.) Six days after release, Bernie's book had already sold 45,000 copies and was #12 on the Amazon best seller list.
Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, printed 300,000 hardcover copies of “Our Revolution” by Nov. 15 and has since gone back to print, said veteran publisher Thomas Dunne.

“He’s been working like a dog,” said Mr. Dunne, referring to Sen. Sanders. “He wants it to be successful.”

Mr. Dunne expects media interest in Sen. Sanders to remain strong through the New Year, driving book sales through the holidays. “He’s been waiting nearly his entire life to give this message to huge audiences,” said Mr. Dunne. “Happily, they’re buying books.”
I'm thrilled that Bernie's message is getting out-- in great depth-- to a wide audience. And I hope that message and the issues his long career has been based on help nominate a better Democratic candidate for president in 2020 than the one who beat him and I hope that message and those issues inspire a new generation of candidates to run and help us elect a more progressive Congress in 2018.

That said, it's important to be vigilant about frauds running on Bernie's name who have little or nothing to do with him politically. Until she fell under Donald Trump's spell last week, it was widely thought that Tulsi Gabbard would surely primary Hawaiian senator Mazie Hirono in 2018. Mazie, like Bernie, has a lifetime crucial vote score of "A" from ProgressivePunch. In fact, Bernie's lifetime crucial vote score is 94.97. Mazie's is 96.32, almost identical to Elizabeth Warren's 96.91. Senators like Bernie, Liz Warren and Mazie Hirono define what it means to be a progressive in the U.S. Senate. What about Bernie-endorser Tulsi? Her lifetime crucial vote score is a perfect reflection of her miserable record in politics, a big fat "F." Not an "A" like Bernie (and Mazie), an "F." Her lifetime score is a dismal 73.61, especially bad when you consider she's in one of the bluest and most progressive districts in the entire country. Time to wake up!

That said, I want to introduce you to one of the candidates-- the Berniecrat candidates-- Blue America is most proud to have worked with this past cycle, Alex Law from South Jersey. Alex took on the grotesquely corrupt Norcross political machine with an impressive and inspiring grassroots campaign. He didn't win... but he established himself as one of the voices of the progressive movement in his state. He wrote a letter to his own supporters and to Bernie supporters in New Jersey that we want to share with you now:

For New Jerseyans Who Supported Bernie Sanders For President
-by Alex Law

Last week, Bernie's NJ Chair John Wisniewski announced he would be running for Governor. As the first person running for office in New Jersey to endorse Bernie Sanders, I was closely involved with the progressive movement in New Jersey. I met personally with nearly every progressive organizer in the state, John included. In my opinion, John Wisniewski appeared only to take part in the Bernie Sanders movement for his own gain. In my estimation, he did not seem concerned about Bernie Sanders winning, or even doing well in New Jersey, unless any action he took towards that would give him more state-wide name recognition or access to email lists.

During my race, he endorsed the Democrat from New Jersey that voted against Bernie and President Obama more than anyone else from our state, Donald Norcross. To any real progressive, endorsing someone like Donald Norcross would be impossible. John seemed to encourage Norcross to then say that Bernie Sanders had endorsed him, even though nothing could be further from the truth. Until we publicly called him out for this shady move, likely spurred because of lucrative contracts his law firm receives as a result of the South Jersey machine's largesse, he didn't make it clear that it was only his [Wisniewski's] personal endorsement that he was offered, not the Bernie Sanders for President campaign's.

Back to his efforts as Bernie Sanders' state chair: John only participated in Bernie Sanders events that allowed him to speak and build his own name recognition, giving no time to what should have been the backbone: volunteer driven organizing. I met with volunteer groups across the state that had absolutely no direction and no access to data. When they called John for help, they always got the same response: we are working on it. The problem is, very few solutions ever came forward. The organization in New Jersey was so bad that it ultimately failed to be a competitive state in the Presidential Primary.

I met with John to make him aware of a odd quirk in New Jersey election law, a quirk that was immensely important to the Sanders campaign but that they had no idea about. I only found out through looking at historical ballots and ultimately suing my county clerk to get the transparency they refused to give us. In New Jersey, ballot position is determined by county candidates. So, Bernie, running for President, would have been out in column 6 or 7, while Hillary would have been in column 1, because the establishment Democrats are typically the only group to run candidates at every level of office. I had put together a slate in multiple counties of committed progressives that actually had a chance to win. Because John's first loyalty was to himself rather than progressives actually winning and supporting Bernie Sanders, he refused to give my candidates the "line" with Bernie Sanders (aka put everyone in the same column) instead finding inexperienced volunteers that had no idea what the real situation was to run. We reached out to these folks and some reached out to John after hearing the full story, imploring him to work with us because otherwise the progressive vote would be split and it would guarantee the corrupt, establishment county officials an easy win. What did John do? He refused to take any of these calls. Why? His relationship to Donald Norcross and their disgusting empire was more important to him than seeing progressives win in New Jersey.

Does this sound like a man that is a "true progressive?" Does this sound like someone who is really cut from the same cloth as Bernie Sanders?

Nonetheless, now John Wisniewski cries foul about party politics even though he has consistently bent over backwards to ingratiate himself to any machine boss that would take his call. He has used the emails he took from the Bernie Sanders campaign to pump the real progressives in the state for money, despite the fact that very few of us ever signed up to get such emails from him. John Wisniewski is not Bernie Sanders and is not a real progressive.

For those of you considering who to support for Governor, you may be tempted to think John is your guy because he says he supported Bernie. I would encourage you to reconsider that belief and find another candidate to support.

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At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please tout your candidates based on their records alone.

For someone like me, and there are quite a lot of us, attaching the names Sanders or Warren who repudiated their entire "movement" by endorsing and campaigning for the monster who has a 52-year record of being anti- everything useful that both of them SAY they are for (bank regs, xxFTAs, peace, stronger safety nets, universal health CARE...).

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of us in NJ already knew that the "Wiz" was only vainly seeking progressive support for himself, though you never saw such opinions in the mainstream press. Last May, for example, a mutual acquaintance of Alex's and mine sent The Newark Star Ledger the following letter -- which was never published -- exposing Wisniewski's perfidy:


US Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden) scored a propaganda coup last month with headlines like “As Primary Rages, Clinton and Sanders Camps Come Out for Norcross.”

Really, when presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is progressive while Norcross is the opposite on so many issues?

Sanders supports clean energy, and opposes both fracking and ecologically dangerous pipelines. He supports labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in our foods. And he supports single payer health care.

Norcross, by contrast, supports fracking, and voted for Keystone XL three times. He also co-sponsored H.R. 1599, a bill that would have pre-empted state GMO labeling laws.

And we can assume that Norcross opposes single payer. His older brother and mentor, party boss George Norcross, is Executive Chairman of Conner Strong & Buckelew, an insurance agency that makes much of its money selling for-profit health insurance.

The only ostensible member of the "Sanders camp" mentioned in coverage of the Norcross campaign kickoff was Sanders' ineffectual New Jersey Campaign chair, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). He’s no real progressive, only an opportunist who hopes his Sanders campaign connection will earn him progressive support when he runs for governor next year.

After endorsing Norcross, good luck with that, Wiz.

At 11:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was he on the Clinton payroll? Sounds like it.

Kim Kaufman

At 9:47 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Support a real independent candidate start checking into the campaign of Karese Laguerre. A real candidate with real ties to the issues that affect the middle class the most. No more lawyers and politics, just civic engagement elevated.

At 6:24 AM, Anonymous lynn delaney said...

Question: Why does the author dismiss #BERNIE2020. Bernie has stated he has not ruled out a 2020 run.
Question: What is New Jersey doing to censure/depose Cory Booker?


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