InsiderNJ’s Who’s Up and Who’s Down: Week of the Trump Rally

Trump

WHO’S UP

Donald Trump

The President knows New Jersey will always be there to be kicked around (or at least manipulated through the boss wing of its transactional politics). So in the middle of his impeachment trial he staged a successful national event here in the state where, given his opposition to Gateway funding, his elimination of the state and local property tax deduction, his nativism and unremitting hate-mongering, and a core establishment trust that includes a former president who left office with a 16% approval rating, he should be politically dead on arrival. He wasn’t. His supporters adored it (they even passed out prayer cards for our “beautiful president”), and Trump could fly out of here with the argument that even in New Jersey – a state he habitually puts down – he is allowed sufficient room to perfom the leading role in a Bertolt Brecht-like circus piece.

Nadeege Ricketts

By unanimous vote, the Union Twp. Democratic Club elected Nadeege Ricketts to serve as the organization president. She takes over from veteran party leader James Frazier, who stepped down from his position as president of the local party organization to run for a national office with the National Education Association.

Martin Luther King III

An eloquent and impassioned presence stood in a parking lot outside the convention center on Tuesday night, where Democrats leaned on the pillars of history as they pushed back against Jeff Van Drew’s cynical seaside storyline at the side of President Trump. Seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Van Drew, CD2 candidate Amy Kennedy campaigned with the son of Martin Luther King, Jr. for reinforcing symbolism in a contest with national dimensions. It wasn’t on quite the same level, but the only other time the state of New Jersey recently experienced something close to that kind of public dignity was when U.S. Rep. John Lewis came to town.

Judy Ward

This week, Atlantic County Democratic Chairman Michael Suleiman endorsed Council President Ward for mayor of Pleasantville.

WHO’S DOWN

Opponents of the PennEast Pipeline

Two days after Trump did an endzone dance in Wildwood on this issue, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on January 30 voted to support the companies developing the $1B PennEast natural gas pipeline using federal eminent domain to gain access to properties owned by New Jersey. In response to the decision, Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper and leader of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, said “It is a blatantly biased effort to subvert the judicial process for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to seek to override the ruling of the Third Circuit by determining that the PennEast Pipeline Company can exercise eminent domain authority against the state of New Jersey, ignoring the Sovereign rights of the state.  It is the role of the judiciary – not the Commission – to decide sovereign immunity issues. This is another abuse of power by FERC, and an outrageous infringement on state’s rights. FERC has demonstrated itself, yet again, to be an ally of the pipeline companies and an enemy of the people.  Pipelines are devasting property rights, harming critical natural resources, and magnifying our climate crisis – and FERC is helping them to do it.  The right and ability of States to protect their own resources have been increasingly under attack by FERC. This order is yet another example of why we need Congress to step in with legislative reforms that will prevent FERC’s ongoing abuses of power. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network will be challenging this decision. This of course means that we will need to file a rehearing request, which we anticipate FERC will respond to with a tolling order intending to rob us of our rights and New Jersey of its rights in order to serve the profit goals of PennEast.”

Kate Gibbs

Give her credit, absolutely, for staying in the contest now that Jeff Van Drew chased millionaire businessman David Richter into her district. That’s a real race in CD3. But seeing the BurlCo Republican at Trump’s rally among the old guard engineers of Richter’s CD2 to CD3 shape-shift (Richter even had a speaking role), bespoke of torment and turmoil for a loyal soldier in a Trump-dominant world.

Jack Ciattarelli

The former LD16 Assemblyman launched his 2017 Republican canddiacy for governor with some choice words for Trump. This week, the 2021 version dutifully showed up at the president’s rally in Wildwood. It was definitely a party-like atmosphere on the boardwalk, but a slice of life down there animated for the president’s national purposes does not reflect the larger dimensions of New Jersey. Ciattarelli’s presence at Trump’s circus just demonstrates the pretzel he’s in as long as Republican State Party Chairman Doug Steinhardt – a Trump loyalist – commands the Christie-remnants party establishment in this state.

Joe Biden

Maybe he will win come Tuesday in Iowa, but the supposed frontrunner looks terribly weak. A Monmouth University Poll this week chalked up the contest to a four (and maybe five!) way race among Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg. Biden needs to win (convincingly would help, but even a gut-it-out-of-the-dirt-effort would do) in Iowa to relegate former New York Mayor  (and fellow moderate) Mike Bloomberg to non-factor. Short of doing that, an Iowa-wounded Biden will have problems trying to halt an ascendant Bloomberg.

The NJGOP

In New Jersey, the already vastly ravaged party looks smaller in Trump’s Wildwood world under the parochial political auspices of a former governor – championed from the podium by the president – who left office here with a 16% approval rating. From a state political perspective, the party here, nothwithstanding those leaders” tingling feelings in the presence of federal power – gave off a prop-like vibe solely in the service Trump’s national narrative.

The National Democratic Party

Ok, so Trump’s message is hollow here beyond a thin nativist strand of loyalists. But out there, where it resonates, Democrats appear to have done little to strongly position themselves for a showdown with the incumbent Republican president. at the edge of Iowa, the Biden-Sanders wings of the party still appear all but irreconcilable.

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