Thursday, February 16, 2017

Don't Fall For The Hype: John Wisniewski Is Not Bernie Sanders And Is Not A Real Progressive


Want Wisniewski to be more pro-Choice? He says he's not a "vicious ideologue."

I wish there was a great and plausible candidate for the New Jersey governorship this year. I would love to be endorsing Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka or former Congressman Rush Holt. But they're not running and the whole weight of the Democratic Party seems to be coming down on the side of Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs billionaire/bankster endorsed by the whole establishment, from Machine hacks like Joseph DiVincenzo and Stephen Sweeney (as well as the Bergen and Monmouth county Democratic organizations) to Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, Congressman Frank Pallone and... Jon Bon Jovi, always the weather vane for pathetic establishment politicians. Not on board with Murphy-- quite predictably, the Bernie crew.

State Senator Ray Lesniak and Assemblymen John Wisniewski are the more progressive options in the race, though neither seems to be making any progress against the bankster. Lesniak is the better progressive but Wisniewski has something else going for him: he was the chairman of Bernie's New Jersey campaign. It doesn't seem to matter to many people, though, that he was the worst Bernie state chairman ever and harmed the campaign far more than doing anything to help it. Thanks in part to Wisniewski's jaw-droopingly bad performance, Hillary killed Bernie in the Jersey primary-- 542,927 (63.3%) to 315,327 (36.7%). She won all the machine counties where the party bosses count the votes and all Bernie won were two small counties Warren and Sussex. All the most corrupt counties-- Essex, Union, Bergen, Camden, Atlantic, Hudson saw Bernie come in with ridiculously low numbers, under 40% in every one of them. When people talk about how party bosses stole the primary for Hillary, they're talking about DiVincenzo, for example, delivering Essex County for her 75,071 (73.2%) to 27,449 (26.8%). I bet that even Wisniewski would have complained if DiVincenzo announced that the vote was 99% for Clinton and 1% for Bernie.

This week, The Observer reported that Wisniewski was doing for himself what he never did for Bernie: fighting. He "took his gubernatorial campaign to South Jersey today, criticizing fellow Democrat Cory Booker for joining Senate Republicans to vote down an amendment sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders that would have allowed Americans to purchase cheaper prescription drugs from Canada."
“That vote against it was about protecting the pharmaceutical industry,” said Wisniewski, who served as chairman of Sanders’ presidential campaign in New Jersey campaign chairman, told a forum in Evesham sponsored by Our Revolution New Jersey, a grass roots group whose genesis was Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign.

Wisniewski pledged to put pressure on New Jersey-based drug manufacturers “on day one,” if he is elected Governor.
But when challenged about bad votes he had taken in the Assembly-- supporting two Republican anti-Choice measures-- he responded with extraordinary lamesness, attacking, in effect, the progressive base he was trying to reach out to: "You would hope that in your elected leaders that they are able to go through an evolution of thought and grow with the times and not be vicious ideologues at every turn." Gee-- "vicious ideologues" is a pretty strong term for people who care about Choice, Wiz; and very revealing.

The thing is, for many Bernie supporters, especially the more naive ones, crap Democrats who glommed onto Bernie's campaign for their own agendas-- Tulsi Gabbard (HI) and Shawn O'Conner (NH) were easily the worst, but Wisniewski is right up there as well-- they don't look beyond someone's backing for their hero. "Wisniewski," explained PoliticalNJ writers, "took a considerable political risk in becoming the sole elected official to back Sanders against an establishment that was otherwise unanimous in its support of eventual nominee Hillary Clinton. But the gamble seems to have paid off; when Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump, the shock and dismay felt by Democrats coalesced around the Sanders wing of the party. One would expect Wisniewski to benefit from that energy, especially in a Democratic primary. Unfortunately for Wiz, despite saying Wisniewski would make an 'excellent governor for New Jersey,' Sanders has chosen to remain neutral in the race. And just yesterday, Sanders’ son Levi campaigned with Phil Murphy." Jeff Weaver, who many grassroots Bernie supporters mistrust, endorsed Wisniewski.

The most dedicated of the Berniecrats in New Jersey was Alex Law, who took on the most corrupt machine in America, the powerful South Jersey Norcross Organization. He ran for Congress against slimy conservative Little Brother Norcross and directed all the energy of his grassroots campaign to fight for Bernie as well as for himself. And then along comes Wiz-- sees an opportunity to suck up the Bernie grassroots energy-- and endorses Bernie and becomes chairman of his state committee. He also immediately endorsed Norcross and did absolutely nothing to help any of the Bernie candidates running anywhere in the state. In fact, he undermined them at every opportunity. But don't just take my word for it. This is what Alex Law had to say about Wiz 3 weeks after the election:
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.

So... what to do? Unless Rush Holt jumps in-- it's still a possibility-- I'd probably vote for Lesniak. There's no way I'd ever vote for anyone like Phil Murphy or John Wisniewski.

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At 7:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why pick from democraps only? Why not consider a Green candidate or just anyone else?
Do non-D candidates just not exist?

At 7:18 AM, Blogger Hello said...

Could you do a write up on Lesniak? Also, is there ANYONE that can primary Gottheimer? Y'know, an actual progressive? Is Bergen county too "conservative" for real progressives too have a chance? Thanks!

At 5:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone who would summarily collapse in the face of vote fraud, quit, and then endorse and campaign for a corrupt neolib neocon russophobic FTA-loving warmongering lying pos IS NOT A REAL PROGRESSIVE either... nor a liberal.

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Jim Devine said...

Before you write off all the 11 Democratic candidate for governor, you should at least identify more than the worst of them. Granted, four are firmly ensconced in the establishment but some are working inventive grassroots campaigns designed to win. One is even interested in advancing other progressive people for public office and she has a strategy that makes sense: Lisa McCormick.

A visit to will show she is raising money in small chucks. Despite the $4300 limit on contributions set by law, Lisa is not taking more than $2500 from anyone but she is reaching out to enough voters to win. Her email list is over 150,000 and she has gone from zero to 1000 Twitter followers in a short time. Lisa McCormick is your progressive alternative

You should encourage progressive groups to join our fight by adding your name to the list at Democracy for America and writing to reporters that fail to mention her name.

Here are some more URLs worthy of your visit:

Lisa's success depends on a lot of people getting involved and taking action. Sit back and do nothing if you want Wall Street to win. The Green Party and other pipe dreams have as much a chance now as they have in the past, but successful primary contenders are not unheard of. There is nobody more progressive than Liberal Lisa. Women are wildly under-represented & eager to find a champion who will effectively combat Donald Trump Republicans. Workers are suffering from an economy and political system designed to benefit crooks and liars like Wiz & Moneybags Murphy... so what are you waiting for?


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