Juliano Responds to Vainieri Huttle

Bergen County Democratic Committee Chairman Paul Juliano.

BY PAUL JULIANO

I have received your letter stating that you will not be participating in the Democratic Committee of Bergen County’s annual nominating convention. While I respect your choice, I am deeply troubled by your nefariously dishonest accusations, misrepresentations of the facts and seemingly deliberate omissions. All of which strike me as being politically calculated.

I would like to set the record straight regarding the nomination process for the open Senate seat in District 37. When Senator Weinberg announced her retirement, I became aware that both you and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson were interested in pursuing the nomination to succeed our great retiring Senator. Let me reiterate what I have said from the beginning; out of respect to both of you, I would not be endorsing a candidate ahead of our convention.

DCBC has worked diligently to ensure a fair, open, and inclusive process that provides candidates an equal opportunity to make their case directly to the more than 350 party delegates in District 37 – which you both have done – and allows our members to select the candidate of their choosing. In fact, to ensure the most inclusive process, when you failed to request the convention nominating petition, which most candidates had already asked for and is required to be on the ballot, I instructed the Democratic Committee’s Executive Director to take the proactive step of sending it to you. Furthermore, as you are aware, the convention is conducted by secret ballot, allowing delegates to vote their consensus absent
of outside influence.

When we spoke earlier this month, it was acknowledged, based on publicly announced pledges, that Gordon Johnson had likely secured the support of a majority of the district’s delegates. Despite reinforcing my position that I would not be issuing an endorsement before delegates had an opportunity to cast their votes, you still pressed me to interject on your behalf and stated that I could change the outcome of the convention in your favor.

The hypocrisy of suggesting that I anoint you as the preferred candidate, the exact thing you claim to be fighting against, is staggering. The truth is, I was unwilling to endorse either of you as the preferred candidate prior to the convention.

When it became clear that the outcome would likely not be in your favor, I hoped, in the best interest of the party, we could find a way to avoid a fight and find unity. I reiterated my unconditional support should you choose to run for reelection to the Assembly. I never questioned your legislative accomplishments and hoped that you would not give up your Assembly seat. As a matter of fact, in the interest of unity, when other candidates came forward and expressed interest in pursuing the seat, I made it clear to them that you had my support, and I would not pressure you to make a decision any sooner than you were ready to do so.

I am disappointed by your baseless accusations that our nomination process is anything other than as open and fair as possible. We have seen over the past year, the devastating consequences of Donald Trump’s unfounded attacks on the integrity of our Democratic processes. Democrats in Bergen County deserve and expect better. Our commitment to these values is the foundation upon which we fight for a better future for our families.

I can only surmise that because you did not expect to have the votes at the convention you decided to take your ball and go home. I also understand that its politically advantageous to attack me and the process rather than the potential first African American Senator in Bergen County’s history, someone who is also the senior member of the Assembly delegation. While the committee is extremely disappointed by your baseless attacks, we will proudly move forward with a candidate that reflects the diversity of the district.

Lastly, there are things bigger than politics, and in these trying times, I wish you and your family good health.

Paul Juliano is the chairman of the Bergen County Democratic Committee (BCDC).

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