Friday, June 01, 2018

Will Steve Sweeney Feel Bad If There's A School Gun Massacre In New Jersey This Month?


Who likes Van Drew more, the DCCC or the NRA?

-by Jersey Jim

On March 26, the New Jersey Assembly passed a package of six gun control bills that Gov. Phil Murphy had promised to sign. Each of the bills had at least 12 sponsors and co-sponsors in the Assembly, and several Democratic state Senators were eager to vote for them, too. But two months later, gun control legislation still hasn’t reached the governor’s desk. Why not?

The bills are stalled in the Senate. They’ve been passed by the appropriate Senate committees, but Senate President Steve Sweeney has refused to put them on the agenda of the full Senate until that body’s next meeting on June 7-- two days after the primary election.

Now is it beginning to make sense? It does if you know anything about the ultra-corrupt South Jersey Democratic machine headed by George Norcross.

With the retirement of Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo, there’s an open seat in NJ-02. The execrable Jeff Van Drew, the most conservative "Democrat" in the state legislature, is one of four candidates for that seat in the Democratic primary, and he enjoys the Norcross machine’s full support.

Van Drew is also the only one with a long history as an NRA ally-- a history he’s now trying to hide. He’s is so closely identified with the NRA that Parkland massacre survivor David Hogg cited him as an example of a Democrat who’s no better than a Republican.

If Van Drew votes against gun control, he risks offending Democratic primary voters who live in the Congressional district he seeks to represent, but not in LD-1, the legislative district he represents in the state Senate. LD-1 is more conservative than the rest of the Congressional district.

If he votes for any of those measures, he will certainly offend a substantial number of pro-gun voters in LD-1, Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike, without whose votes he might lose in November.

And if he fails to vote on those bills, he’ll offend everybody.

As Senate president, and as the Norcross Machine’s most important single asset in Trenton, Sweeney will do whatever Norcross wants; and DNC member Norcross, who used his clout to install his younger brother in the NJ-01 House seat after Rob Andrews resigned in disgrace in 2014, is all but obsessed with getting control of a second seat in Congress. That’s why Sweeney is delaying the final votes.

For all his flaws, Sweeney himself has a relatively good record on gun control, as do most of the legislators connected with the Norcross machine. In fact, several of them are sponsors or co-sponsors of the pending gun bills. But for Norcross and Sweeney, saving Jeff Van Drew from political embarrassment is apparently more important than saving lives.

Van Drew enjoys the support of the Democratic establishment in Washington, too. He’s not only on the DCCC’s Red-to-Blue list; he’s also been endorsed by both the New Dems and the Blue Dogs-- a corrupt Beltway establishment hat trick!

But will that be enough to get him into Congress?

A Van Drew mailer paid for by Patriot Majority USA, a dark money Democratic establishment group, boasts that Van Drew is "endorsed by every county Democratic party in the state." That wording is misleading. What they mean is not every county party, but every county executive committee. And in South Jersey, the membership of those committees consists almost entirely of insiders connected to the Norcross machine.

Beyond his current Senate district, consisting of Cape May County and a few neighboring communities in Atlantic and Cumberland Counties, Van Drew has little support among rank and file Democrats.

Even in LD-1, he probably couldn’t win a general election without the votes of gun-loving Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. In presidential, gubernatorial and US Senate elections, LD-1 usually goes Republican, while NJ-02 is less consistently Republican. In five of the last seven presidential elections, the Democratic candidates-- Clinton, Gore and Obama-- carried NJ-02. And Democrat Bill Hughes held that seat for 20 years before LoBiondo was first elected in 1994.

Trump won NJ-02 in 2016, but we’re already seeing the same kind of buyer’s remorse there that Trump supporters in Michigan and Wisconsin are feeling after 16 months of a Trump Administration. So Van Drew is no shoe-in in November.

But that doesn’t matter to corporate Democrats who would rather lose with a corrupt candidate of their own choosing than win with a progressive.

A Roll Call story last week reported how Blue Dog PAC co-chair Kurt Schrader approached Van Drew. When Van Drew complained about "having a tough time getting things done" in Trenton, Schrader told him he should run for Congress "because frankly, with Republicans in control, you’re going to find you’re going to have a lot more opportunity than you did back home," adding, "you’ll be the decision-maker, because you’ll be the swing vote."

Schrader must have known how unhappy Van Drew is about being pressured to soften some of his right-wing positions.

In January, Van Drew removed his name from Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 35, which proposes amending the state constitution to permit a law requiring parental notification when a minor seeks an abortion. (In 2000, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a 1999 parental notification law violated the state constitution.) Van Drew had been listed as a prime sponsor of that resolution in this and the two previous Legislatures, and was the only "Democrat" with his name on it each time.

Van Drew also reluctantly took his name off a bill (S-539) to reinstate the death penalty in New Jersey.

Those capitulations have not gone unnoticed in right-wing circles. The Jersey Conservative web site noted his withdrawal of support for parental notification and the death penalty. And the Daily Caller ran a hit piece by Rick Trader, host of the obscure Conservative Commandos internet radio show (where Sharron Angle is sometimes his co-host!), calling Van Drew "one of the most fake conservative Democrats running for office in 2018."

With the organizational support of the Norcross machine, and with 6.5 times the war chest of his leading primary opponent-- not to mention the outside spending of "centrist" (read, "corporate") Democratic PAC’s-- Van Drew is almost certain to win the primary.

But November won’t be a cinch. He’ll need to hold on to all the Independents and Republicans who have supported him in his state legislative races. He’ll also have to turn out the kind of Democrats who usually don’t vote in the midterms. That will be hard, because conservatives like Van Drew don’t excite the base.

And if he does win in November, it will be no victory for progressives.

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At 5:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To people seeking to gain or keep power (or big donations from the nra), nothing is more important than their holy quest. You can bet your life that if 1000 kids die, they can and will rationalize their actions. Besides, neither party gives one flying fuck about kids... they don't vote.

At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

More of these New Dem Blue Dogs should be hoist upon their own petard!

As the article makes clear, such elected officials are the fault of the voters. As long as such officials remain in the little enclaves which elected them, they won't feel the scourge of conscience. It's when they mistakenly believe they are ready for bigger things that the crisis ensues, and they are faced with the consequences of their positions. They should have to stand with them for election, and not pretend to be something other than what they are. Exposing this falsity should be the responsibility of the opponent. Too often, this doesn't happen.

Just one more sign that our nation is broken.


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