Thursday, April 19, 2018

Is Jeff Van Drew Really The Lesser Of Two Evils? Ask A Surviver Of Any NRA Gun Massacre


Jeff Van Drew, the personification of a 2018 DCCC recruit

It's hard to say which DCCC recruit will likely be the worst POS if he gets into Congress. But it's impossible to draw up a short list without including New Jersey Blue Dog/New Dem Jeff Van Drew. Van Drew has a record as a state legislature so we already know absolutely what a total turd he's going to be in Congress. And it's the reason why the DCCC selected him. They've been trying to recruit him for years but Van Drew is a notorious political coward and he refused to give up his safe state Senate seat until Frank LoBiondo announced he wasn't running again. NJ-02, which runs from Little Egg Harbor and Eagleswood Townships in the North, across to the Wilmington suburbs down through Atlantic City and all the way down to Cape May, has an R+1 PVI but voted for Obama-- with around 53%-- both times he ran. Trump beat Hillary 50.6% to 46.0%.

Thanks to the DCCC's efforts, he's likely to win the nomination and thanks to the blue wave he's likely to slither into Congress. As Matt Friedman reported in Politico over the weekend, "Van Drew has voted against raising the minimum wage and gay marriage. He often sides with industry on environmental issues and carries an A rating from the NRA... [T]he Democratic Party establishment-- at every level-- is throwing its collective weight behind Van Drew, leaving local progressives baffled, frustrated and more than a little angry." The DCCC is painting a false picture that only a Republican-lite reactionary like Van Drew could win the district. That's a completely false narrative. The wave would sweep any Democrat in. The problem-- backed up by history-- is that in the next midterm, 2022, Van Drew's Republican-lite voting record will turn off so many Democrats that his base won't be there for him and the GOP will capture the seat. 2006/2010 all over again-- a DCCC special.
The race is a showcase for whether the Democratic Party nationally will tolerate politicians like Van Drew, a state senator, in the name of winning the majority in the U.S. House for the first time since 2011. It highlights Democrats’ struggles to blend their stated ideals on issues like diversity and gun control with the political realities of a district, in this case a working-class bastion that voted for President Donald Trump by 4 points after twice voting for President Barack Obama.

Nationally, the Democratic Party has seen a surge of progressive activism in the wake of Trump’s election, and New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District is no exception. So liberal activists, who frequently gathered in front of LoBiondo’s office to demand a town hall meeting that never came, have turned their ire on Democratic leaders.

“It makes me feel a bit insulted and betrayed,” said Alison Arne, an Atlantic County activist who co-chairs the group Actions Together New Jersey Atlantic County.

Two other candidates for the Democratic nomination to replace LoBiondo fit the mold of 2018 Democrats.

Will Cunningham is an openly gay African-American attorney who grew up poor and despite being homeless at one point as a teen, went to an Ivy League university and became an Obama administration official, and an adviser to Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Tanzie Youngblood is a retired African-American teacher and military mom. And Nate Kleinman, a farmer who runs a nonprofit and was active in the Occupy movement, was dubbed the first “Occupy candidate” when he sought a House seat in Pennsylvania six years ago.

Democrats spent two decades struggling to recruit viable candidates to run in the district against LoBiondo, who first won the seat in 1994. Now, Van Drew will almost certainly win the primary and is heavily favored to win the seat in November.

“The DCCC needs to take a look at themselves in the mirror and make sure we’re reflective of who we’re sending to D.C.,” Cunningham said of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has all but officially thrown in with Van Drew after trying for at least a decade to recruit him to run there. “We as the Democratic Party, if we’re going to talk the talk, we’ve got to walk the walk.”

The anger has spilled out into public forums. At one, high school student Emily McGrath confronted Van Drew-- who had one day earlier told her class he did not accept donations from the NRA-- about a $1,000 donation she had discovered. The videotaped confrontation, in which McGrath said “Senator, you lied,” made headlines around the state.

But don’t look for a nail-biter primary like in Illinois, where conservative Democrat Dan Lipinski narrowly survived a primary challenge last month.

The 2nd District, New Jersey’s southernmost and largest geographically, includes Atlantic City’s gleaming casino towers, farmland and the poorest county in the state. It’s more working class than its New Jersey counterparts to the north, with the lowest percentage of college-educated residents in the state. And Van Drew has represented the district’s most Republican portion in the state Senate and Assembly for 16 years, comfortably winning reelection despite several major GOP efforts against him.

To have a Democratic candidate who’s already popular in the most conservative part of the congressional district is like a dream to Democrats more concerned with flipping a Republican House seat than with ideological purity. They point to Conor Lamb, the conservative Democrat who won a deep-red House district in Pennsylvania in March.

“I think it’s a lot of the same criticism you heard about that guy,“ said Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman. “Do you want a guy who’s with you 70 percent of the time? Or do you want a Republican who’s with you 0 percent of the time?”

Meanwhile, there are some hints that Van Drew is moving leftward. Earlier this year, conservative websites pointed out that he quietly withdrew his sponsorship of bills to reinstate the death penalty and require parental notification for abortions.

“Candidly, I’m to the left of Jeff,” Suleiman said. “But I also want to win. Because I’ve been around long enough to know if there’s one thing Democrats are good at, it’s screwing up elections.”

Establishment Democrats stress that Van Drew has voted with the party on bread-and-butter priorities like paid sick leave and paid family leave.

While Van Drew doesn’t have the kind of voting record that generally plays well in a Democratic primary, he has some things that his challengers lack: organization and money. He‘s backed by the local Democratic organization in all eight counties in the district, which gives him advantageous placement on the ballot. And the three candidates running to his left threaten to dilute the progressive vote.

Then there’s the issue of money. Before LoBiondo’s retirement announcement, when Youngblood and Sean Thom-- who has since dropped out-- were the only candidates in the race, DCCC staff helped prep Youngblood for her campaign launch, and she attended its candidate week in October.

But national Democrats were left unimpressed with her anemic fundraising in a district that includes the Philadelphia media market-- one of the most expensive in the country. As of the end of last year, Youngblood had raised only about $50,000-- almost half of which came from her own pocket. Van Drew raised only about $80,000, but a campaign source said his next filing will show about $400,000 raised.

Cunningham and Kleinman entered the race after Van Drew.

“Sen. Van Drew has built the strongest Democratic campaign this district has seen in more than two decades,” said DCCC spokeman Evan Lukaske. “In addition to earning the unanimous backing of local Democrats, Van Drew has an unmatched record of service to this community, deep ties to grass-roots supporters and a proven ability to win tough races.“

But Arne, the activist, said she felt Democrats didn’t take the opportunity for a pickup in the district seriously until LoBiondo retired. Once that happened, even before Van Drew formally declared his campaign, all of South Jersey’s Democratic Party leaders rallied around him.

“Last year for the 2017 state legislative races, we really stood up and did a lot of work to get the local communities more engaged,” Arne said. “So when they turned it around like this on us, it’s like they didn’t listen and they don’t really care.”
There are 6 gun-rights bills pending in the New Jersey legislature-- but they won't be voted on until after New Jersey's June primary, making it a lot easier for Van Drew to avoid the topic. Incredibly corrupt and machine-bossed Jersey Senate President, Stephen Sweeney, set it up that way for Van Drew, just as George Norcross instructed him to. Van Drew has a 100% vote score from the NRA-- which is even worse than a 90% or 99%.

UPDATE: A Progressive Candidate Against Van Drew

This is a note I got from Emily McGrath, a high school student in NJ-02, a short time after the post went up:

My name is Emily and I am a senior at Egg Harbor Township High School. After the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, I confronted Senator Jeff Van Drew about his A-rating from the NRA.
I called him out after he lied to me and my classmates as to whether he’d ever accepted money from the NRA.  Our conversation went viral and people are finally realizing that Senator Van Drew is the wrong choice for South Jersey.

Until my peers and I are old enough to run for office, we deserve champions in Congress who will make our lives and well-being a #1 priority.

Will Cunningham will be the champion we deserve. After hearing his riveting speech at the March for Our Lives rally I joined Will’s campaign as a volunteer because I truly believe he’s the fighter our district needs in Congress. We need someone who will stand up to the NRA to pass common sense gun safety measures.

The fact is, we don't elect leaders to offer thoughts and prayers-- we elect them to take action... The Second District is full of both responsible gun owners and parents who fear saying goodbye to their kids each morning. Surely, we can come together to support sensible steps to prevent gun violence.

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At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazingly, even this evidence isn't going to convince some party hacks that the "democrats" aren't worth the effort to take them over from within when organizing a new party would be easier.

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

"Then there’s the issue of money."

Right there is the heart of the matter of the DCCC it's money candidates they want not candidates who want to talk policy pathetic.

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More anecdotal proof that the democraps and lesser evilism DO kill people. Lots of people.

If American lefties had dumped the detritus of the democrats in the '80s after Reagan and the DLC and so on, don't you think we'd have had 30 years of better gun lege, no arbitrary wars, no torture, better bank regs, probably no 2008 crash, no Clintons, no trump...

But no. All we ever can do is to fear the republican beast and elect the nearly as beastly democraps who get more beastly every cycle. We just cannot get out of our own way even though everyone who has lived through it will attest to just how absolutely fucked we've become because of the fear and lesser evilism.

After this long of lesser evilism ending (today) with fucking trump, how can you genuinely insist that this is the "only viable alternative"? It's the only one that could give us fucking trump. WAKE THE FUCK UP!!!

At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer to Anonymous Democrap is "NO". To all your questions. Coherence and reality are something to be desired, not repudiated, in comments.

At 10:12 PM, Blogger Larry Piltz said...

Anyone wanting to split the Democratic Party into sub-parties undoubtedly wants Republicans to win and ruin the country further. That is a fact that no rationalization or bullshitting otherwise can undermine. To repeat, Republican governance is the perfect result for people wanting to split the Democratic Party.

At 6:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So says the representative of the DxCC. Don't spend all that money in one place!

At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, Larry, your "solution" is to continue to ruin the country further by trying to elect democraps, watching them normalize whatever horseshit the previous Nazi did, expand much of that and then creating another vacuum that always gives us someone worse?

Larry, I hope you live a very, very long time so you can enjoy your ruin. I do hope that, once elections and all rights are suspended, you reflect on your own complicity in that whole long march.

One might hope that after following your tactics for 4 decades and never once seeing anything but continued degradation, that you might just finally realize that Albert Einstein might have been on to something.
But not in the usa, evidently.

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry doesn't understand what "long game" means. He's of the CFO mentality where your horizon only stretches to the next reporting cycle.

The biggest difference between Rs and Ds. Both are utterly corrupt and care nothing about the 99.9%. But the Rs understand the long game and play it pretty well. The Ds have no clue.

At 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry only understands what the Party hacks pay him to understand.


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