Election Day 2017. A Dozen Takeaways


Election Day 2017 in NJ was pretty much a romp for the Democratic party, leaving the NJGOP largely vanquished.

Has your Election Day hangover worn off yet? I’m a Democrat, so mine was short-lived. For all those Garden State republicans out there (for whom the pain still lingers), this column is for you.

ASBURY PARK.  Election Day provided NJ’s perfectly imperfect shore-side gem another chance to show off for the world. Murphy’s choice to host his party here meant more positive attention for Asbury Park’s ongoing renaissance.  Given AP’s far-left proclivities, you can bet the locals savored this one a whole lot more than Chris Christie’s re-election victory party in 2013, which also took place in Asbury Park.

THE LEAP. Did you see Governor-elect Phil Murphy’s exuberant, surprisingly acrobatic bell-kick prior to his acceptance speech?  It was kinda cute, right? In an Irish River Dance kinda way. Cute enough to do a second time? Only if he works on his amplitude a bit. (See: Bell-kick tutorial on YouTube.)

COLD NOVEMBER RAIN. It was cold. It was rainy. And spectacularly windy. I’m shivering just recalling!

KARMA.  If you wave a confederate flag and literally urge women back into the kitchen, its gonna be extra delicious when a black woman kicks your ass on Election Day. Democratic candidate Ashley Bennett vanquished Atlantic City Freeholder Carman last Tuesday, a stunning repudiation of Trumpism.

“Will the women’s protest end in time for them to cook dinner?” Carman once mused on Facebook.

Now he’ll have plenty of time to cook his own damn dinner.

LOBO. At some point in last week’s maelstrom, while everyone’s Election Day fever was raging, the news broke that South Jersey GOP Congressman Frank LoBiondo will retire. Apparently carrying Trump’s mantle in NJ was too much for LoBo, a long-serving relic of NJ’s delegation.

A sign of things to come? Watch this space!

RIGHT TO CHOOSE. Pro-choice orgs like Planned Parenthood are keen to reaffirm NJ’s commitment to reproductive choice. After eight years of suffering under a governor who wanted to control the outcome of every pregnancy in New Jersey, pro-choice organizers succeeded in making their issue a major campaign priority for Gov-elect Murphy.

DESI POWER. New Jerseyans of South Asian extraction had a pretty amazing night last Tuesday, notching victories up and down the state. Vin Gopal’s (mild) upset victory in Monmouth makes him New Jersey’s first Indian-American state Senator. Ravi Bhalla will be Hoboken’s next mayor and Balvir Singh was elected Burlington County Freeholder, each overcoming nasty, racist opposition to claim victory.

There are places in America with an appetite for Trump’s sexist brand of racism. Burlington County, NJ does not appear to be one of those places.

BURLINGTON CO. Freeholder-elect Singh’s upset result capped a surprisingly solid night for Democrats in the South Jersey county usually dominated by the GOP. (BurlCo Dems did well in ’08 and ’12 – thanks Obama! – but failed to consolidate those gains in subsequent races.)  Singh’s running mate Tom Pullion also triumphed leaving the GOP with narrow control (3:2) of BurlCo’s Freeholder Board.

Troy Singleton also earned the right to replace longtime GOP Senator Diane Allen, completing a Democratic sweep of BurlCo’s 7th district.  Perhaps most surprisingly, the GOP barely hung on in LD8!

Keep an eye on BurlCo in Nov 2018! With Control of the Freeholder Board on the line, it’s gonna be a dogfight!

BYE BYE! Lesniak, Kyrillos, Beck, Wisniewski, Diane Allen. There are just a few of the bluechip names who won’t be back in January. It’s kinda sad just writing those words down. They’ll be missed.

SWEENEY + the PIPS. I once wrote a story called “The NJEA Sucks” for BlueJersey, so no one will accuse me of being an apologist for NJ’s teacher’s union. But if you’ve met my Twitter feed, you know I supported their ill-fated tilt at Steve Sweeney. IMO, he’s a mediocre leader who hasn’t properly earned another hitch running the show. Obviously the only opinions that really matter are those of his colleagues, who remain beholden to Sweeney for their own leadership baubles.

So next time you hear Senate Democrats   grinding their axe   whining about NJEA’s leadership, suggest they take a moment to reflect on their own leadership choices.

SHOE LEATHER! Tinton Falls has a new mayor, 93-year-old Vito Perillo. The WWII vet won 53% of the vote with a simple message that voters craved: less taxes and more transparency as a “full-time, fiscally prudent mayor.”

Can we get some of that in Cherry Hill, please?!

MARIJUANA. As New Jersey’s most notorious (Caucasian) pothead, I’m delighted to see the end of Gov Christie’s political career. His antipathy towards sensible drug reform is a big reason his approval ratings went down the tubes. Gov-elect Murphy has pledged to expeditiously legalize cannabis for adult use. He cites social justice & budgetary reasons for doing so. Great. Optimistically, the soonest that would go live is 2019. In the meantime, NJ’s medical cannabis is broken, another vestige of Christie’s Just Say No approach to marijuana.

Yes, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. And since legalization will be a long methodical debate, let’s fix our medical system first and let’s do it quickly.

Thanks to Christie, sick people in New Jersey have already waited long enough.

Jay Lassiter started covering NJ politics in 2005 as a blogger for BlueJersey. After a historic stint at America’s first statehouse blogger, Jay did communications for Congressmen Rob Andrews and John Adler. Jay’s best knows for his work ending cannabis prohibition and legalizing gay marriage. 





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