DOVER – Politics here long has been a street fight punctuated by stormy meetings, cries of intimidation, favoritism and in a nod to contemporary times, provocative web sites. It’s a very Democratic-town, so the bloodletting amounts to a family fight.
And don’t overlook a bit of deja-vu.
Just consider a rather remarkable statement this week from Chip Robinson, the Morris County Democratic chair.
Robinson recounted that as the 2019 election year came into focus, the political chit-chat emerging from Dover was about “blatant mismanagement, opposition to Democratic candidates, exclusion of new volunteers from the Dover Democratic Committee and excessive outside influence in town government.”
The man responsible for these sins, Robinson concluded at the time, was long-time Mayor James Dodd, a fellow Democrat.
So, Morris Dems actively worked against Dodd. They were not alone. Phil Murphy came to Dover the weekend before the election to campaign for what was called the Dover First slate. Sen. Richard Codey, whose 27th District doesn’t include Dover, nonetheless was a big booster of the anti-Dodd slate. The two had a previous disagreement over a veterans’ center in town.
Knowing he could not win a primary with the party apparatus so against him, Dodd opted to run as an independent. He lost to Carolyn Blackman, the current mayor, by 50 votes.
Now it’s three years later, and Robinson’s statement went on.
He again said he’s hearing reports out of Dover about guess what? That would be “blatant mismanagement, opposition to Democratic candidates, (and) exclusion of new volunteers from the Dover Democratic Committee.”
But now the culprit is Alderman Edward Correa. Robinson said Correa has strayed from his previous role as a reformer with Dover First, and as such, will not be supported by the county Democratic organization if he runs for reelection.
This is hardly the first time in the world of politics when someone is elected as an “outsider” and a “reformer” and then faces the same criticism of the leader he supplanted.
What’s interesting is Robinson’s straightforward statement that “Having a ‘D’ next to one’s name is not enough, particularly in one of our county’s most Democratic towns.”
We will see how the primary unfolds after Monday’s filing deadline.
How about Dodd?
Is he enjoying seeing his opponents squabble among themselves?
He observed in a conversation today that all elements of the group that replaced him have forgotten about why they got elected, which is public service.
“This is more about politics,” Dodd said.
Well, it’s always about politics, but his point is that you can’t overlook governing.
He’s been out of office more than two years, but Dodd says, “I do care. I worked real hard for 20-plus years.” Two of the issues he mentioned were promoting redevelopment and cracking down on “stacking,” or illegally overcrowded apartments.
Does he care enough to run for mayor again in 2023?
We’ll have to wait and see.