The reelection bail out by Camden Mayor Frank Moran on Friday left the New Jersey political world bewildered by his actions, and in ho-hum mode as the region’s Democratic establishment hurried to issue its collective endorsement of machine-girded Councilman Vic Carstarphen to supplant Moran on the throne of local “power.”
One person who wasn’t really surprised by what went down was local Pastor Amir Khan, who would like to run for mayor this year in defiance of a party structure that ultimately genuflects at the secular altar of George Norcross III.
“We are still exploring it; we’ve been exploring it,” said Khan, a local pastor and political activist. “I’m not going to run unless it’s okay with my family; it’s a family decision. And we’re not going to run unless all the funds are there, so we can do it properly. I’m not looking for 15 minutes of fame. If you want to run it’s because the polls say so and we’re not committing one way or the other right now.”
He has to decide come April.
“The residents are forcing me to look hard at it,” said Khan. “They want to bring the power back into the hands of the people of Camden.”
Moran, said Khan, didn’t make his own decision, of course.
They pulled the plug on him.
“It’s absolutely not his decision,” Khan said. “They polled and they know the numbers aren’t there for Frankie. They have a very short list of who they could pull for. I knew they were not going to run Frankie again. I knew a couple of candidates they considered but even Vic – he’s so, so green. It’s just so obvious they’re looking for someone to do whatever George tells them to do.
“Frank is a bad mayor, a no-show mayor,” added Khan, who accelerated his pre-COVID public demonstrations to draw attention to the tax incentives awarded to businesses with close ties to Norcross, South Jersey’s chief Democratic Party influencer.
The activist said he believes he still has momentum on his side.
“This is the greatest time to run right now; their organization is extremely vulnerable, and we have a governor who is caring and loving, not a Chris Christie, who was in the back pocket of George Norcross,” said Khan. “I get it. It’s an election year, and they’ll smile now and Phil Murphy will smile, but this is the same group that said, ‘Governor Murphy, you’re not welcome.'”
Khan said he would prefer to agitate and effect change from the outside.
“But the problem is if they control City Hall, you have to do it from the inside out,” he said. “I need the full city’s support to beat the funds the machine’s going to put up.”
In the meantime, Khan helped lead an effort to bus 50 homeless people from Camden to the Cherry Hill Mall to a warming center.