WASHINGTON – There was no mistaking the mood. These are happy times for Democrats in New Jersey and elsewhere.
Two bus loads of people arrived at mid-day to celebrate the ascension of Mikie Sherrill. Some of them jammed into the now-congresswoman’s office in the Longworth Building to watch the vote for Speaker on TV. There were cheers whenever Sherrill appeared on screen, even if for merely a few seconds.
When she cast her vote – against Nancy Pelosi – the crowd silenced. The vote was no surprise, but everyone wanted to make sure they heard her.
Bob Menendez, who survived a nasty reelection battle, greeted supporters at a reception of his own in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. He joked that dealing with Republicans in the Senate and, of course, the president, may be more enjoyable – if that is the right word – than fighting off a series of vile campaign attacks last fall.
He probably wasn’t serious, but then again, maybe he was. And later, he couldn’t resist a swipe at Republican Senate candidate Bob Hugin, saying, “$40 million bucks” didn’t help him much.
The centerpiece of the day was a bash run by the state Democratic Committee at the five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
All the muckety-mucks were there. Menendez, Cory Booker and Phil Murphy, who as most state politicos know, is just back from Tanzania.
This was a celebration, but really it seemed like more of a pep rally for a race that already has been won.
Murphy at first threatened to institute a cash bar if the 400 or so people in the room didn’t quiet down. That worked, sort of.
Still, the governor was heard above the din talking about how great a day it is for New Jersey Democrats and giving a plug for state Democratic chair John Currie, who is in a fight for his job.
Echoing what seems to be his political principle, the governor said there can not be social progress without economic progress and likewise, there can’t be economic progress without social progress.
That is a catchy line to be sure, but as the governor pointed out, at least in the recent election, the voters endorsed it, even in normally Republican areas like Somerset, Hunterdon and Morris counties. As he mentioned the counties, cheers went up in the crowd from residents of each. The pattern was the same when he mentioned some of the progressive groups that helped the Dems win, including Blue Wave New Jersey and NJ-11th For Change.
He introduced Menendez as the “greatest senator” in Washington. High praise indeed.
Menendez, after giving the requisite thanks to Democratic supporters, trod at least briefly, into real life. He said Donald Trump is going to find out what it means to have a Democratic House. Currie, for his part, expressed confidence House Democrats will stick to the issues and avoid intra-party battles.
“They are a lot of smart people,” he said.
Menendez then quoted Robert Kennedy famously quoting George Bernard Shaw about seeing things that never were and asking “why not?”
But it was really a night to party, not for substantive analysis.
After the speeches, Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy hung around for close to an hour talking to people and taking selfies with them. The governor was overheard saying that the journey back from East Africa took 28 hours. No word on how many giraffes and elephants he saw.
Various House members dropped by, but for brief periods as the House was still in session.
Damn, it’s always a bummer when a job gets in the way of having fun.
- Bob Hugin
- Bob Menendez
- Cory Booker
- Donald Trump
- George Bernard Shaw
- Hunterdon County
- Mandarin Hotel
- Mikie Sherrill
- Morris County
- Nancy Pelosi
- NJ 11th for Change
- NJ Democrats
- Phil Murphy
- Robert Kennedy
- Somerset County
- Tammy Murphy
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