SOMERVILLE – Half a decade ago ago, John Wisniewski wintered with the Democratic National Committee in his role as New Jersey party chair. Today, as State Party Chairman John Currie prepares to cast his vote for Tom Perez in Atlanta as the next chairman of the DNC, Wisniewski stood among Somerset County Republicans.
The long-shot Democratic candidate for governor doubled down on his opposition DNC chair pick in advance of tomorrow’s vote. “I’m supporting [Minnesota Congressman] Keith Ellison for leader of the Democratic Party, regardless of the impact it has on my candidacy,” Wiz told InsiderNJ as he towered over the heads and shoulders of mostly, ironically, GOP diehards, in this packed jazz night club called Verve.
“It’s time for our party to move past the Clintons and in a more grassroots direction,” said Wisniewski, fingering
former Obama administration Labor Secretary Tom Perez as a Clinton-backed candidate. He also took a swing at former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, for whom Wisniewski’s rival, Democratic gubernatorial front-runner Phil Murphy, served as DNC treasurer.
“That was a hardly a 50-state strategy,” he added, referring to Republican control of 33 legislatures and 33 governorships.
As for a Murphy mail piece that tried to brand him anti-choice, the candidate said his campaigns have long had the support of Planned Parenthood. “The piece is trying to make me pro-life; it’s untrue and it’s the problem with modern political discourse,” Wisniewski said.
“I don’t know what their motivation is for putting out a piece like that,” he added. “You’d have to ask them.”
The Middlesex County-based Democrat was here to address the Somerset County Employers Legislative Committee (ELC). “We’ve asked all the gubernatorial candidates to come and speak,” Bernards Twp. Mayor Carol Bianchi told InsiderNJ.
For her part, Bianchi confirmed that she won’t be a candidate for freeholder this year, but when Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine showed up at Verve, InsiderNJ got a shot of the ticket that might have been.
There was insider GOP buzz around the Republican contest for governor, with a veteran source describing Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R-16) as having “a puncher’s chance.”
“I think he gets six to seven county lines,” the source speculated about the candidate for governor who served as a freeholder in the historic courthouse here just across the street from Verve.
State Senator Kip Bateman (R-16) was in attendance at this ELC mixer, too, and acknowledged that he has a competitive campaign this year and is in fundraising mode.