Friday’s 2-Part, Coronavirus-free Political Potpourri

Assemblyman Ryan Peters argues that it is up to Trenton to start rolling back some of the regulations, fees and taxes that have made NJ one of the most highly taxed states in the country, but doesn't think that the governing body, controlled by Democrats for the last two decades, is up to the task.

Happy Friday! The world’s going to hell in a hand basket so let’s go ahead and jump right into this week’s corona-free political potpourri!

Part 1

When hating on gays started to become unfashionable circa Y2k, many conservatives faced a very serious dilemma: where to park all that vitriol??

Generally speaking, they seem to have settled on “brown people” as evidenced by their words and deeds on a a rolling, ongoing basis. I mean have you heard them obsessing with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, like, ever??

Rich Ambrosino chairs the Camden GOP. It’s an organization that doesn’t win very often but they’re quick to give succor to anyone still convinced that Barack Obama is Muslim (he’s Christian) and Ilhan Omar is married to her brother. She’s not.

After news reports focused on the Camden GOP’s social media pages – rife with conspiracy theories and other nationalistic bilge – the most abhorrent bits were scrubbed out.

“There’s no place for that kind of stuff, not only political discourse, but in society as a whole,” Mr Ambrosino said in a statement. “I’m embarrassed by it because I’m the chairman and ultimately the responsibility rests with me.”

The stuff about Obama and Omar is still up because, despite the apology, they ain’t sorry for that stuff.

Ambrosino, who administrators the freewheeling Camden GOP Facebook page, is also a commissioner at the Camden County Board of Elections. That’s a position of great public trust and it’s something the state NJGOP would have to sign off on.

Other admins on the Camden GOP Facebook page include Dawn Briggs and Tom Crone who, coincidentally, both work at the Camden County Board of Elections where Ambrosino is commissioner.

So basically, Camden’s elections are run by Republicans who hate Muslims and Democrats who hate anyone not genuflecting to George Norcross.

So far NJ GOP chairman Doug Steinhardt has been tightlipped about his Camden franchise’s latest anti-Muslim rant.

When Chairman Steinhardt takes a hand-off approach to Camden, it’s not just the GOP avoiding his gaze. Although he runs the NJGOP, Steinhardt is law partner with two devoted cogs in the Norcross machine: ex-Gov Jim Florio and Freeholder Lou Cappelli.

That may explain why, politically speaking, Chairman Steinhardt’s a one trick pony generally preoccupied with trashing Governor Phil Murphy online. This, much to the delight of Machine Democrats who never hid their antipathy towards Murphy.

With the exception of 2008, when Barack Obama electrified voters, I can’t recall a single year when voter turnout in Camden County was anything special.

I always wondered about that.

When I look at the Norcross Democrats and the hapless, racist republicans running elections in Camden County, I’m pretty sure I found my answer.

Part 2 

DADT, undoing the damage

Earlier this week, I wrote about LGBTs in the military, an article prompted by legislation from NJ Senator Vin Gopal to restore state benefits to LGBT Veterans unfairly discharged from the military.

The article got lost in a maelstrom of Coronavirus news and only a few hundred people read about Gopal’s bill to correct a pretty galling historic injustice.

The good news is that several folks who did read also happened to be in a position to vote on Gopal’s legislation, a bill which deserves unanimous approval in both houses.

At the end of my article, I half-joked that someone should start a Google.doc with the whip count and the maybe that someone is me.

Assemblyman Ryan Peters (see above pic), a GOP lawmakers who’s also a Navy Seal, was first to reply.

“Put me down as a yes on the Google doc,” he told InsiderNJ.

Holly Schepisi was next to confirm her YES vote and that felt good.

I’m old. I remember the bad old days when getting two GOP “yes” votes on anything gay was a minor miracle and here I am 2-for-2.

Then a series of Democrats confirmed to InsiderNJ their support for Gopal’s bill: Raj Mukherji, Yvonne Lopez, Joe Vitale, Jamel Holley, Loretta Weinberg, and Troy Singleton.

“I have asked to cosponsor the bill,” Senator Weinberg told InsiderNJ. “Any person who was improperly given a dishonorable discharge should be restored and given any appropriate benefits earned.”

For Senator Weinberg, it’s a conviction born from experience.

“As the wife of the guy who got a college education because of the G.I. Bill, and as a widow of a veteran which enables me to get a slight reduction in my property taxes, this bill seems such a right thing to do,” Weinberg added.

Senator Vin Gopal is eager run up the score and why not??

“I feel confident that every Democrat in both houses will vote for this bill,” Senator Gopal told InsiderNJ. “I haven’t spoken to all directly but I’ve had a lot of conversations, including with leadership. The Governor’s office has been very receptive on the concept overall. They just need time to dig into the language. Overall everyone on the Democratic Party side of the aisle has been very favorable.”

With the Democrats apparently all on board plus Republicans trickling into the mix already, dare we dream of that unanimous vote to restore benefits to Vets discharged for being LGBT?

Probably not unanimous.

*cough cough* Parker Space, Gerry Cardinale *cough cough*

“It’s particularly worth a name-and-shame component for any NO votes,” one Democratic staffer suggested.

I think I know a guy who can do that.

Jay Lassiter is an award-winning writer with a penchant for naming- and shaming. He’s on Twitter @Jay_Lass

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