The Democratic Party likes to project the image of tough guys behind tinted windows who strongarm supposed underlings if need be, and presumably that ethos of a party long cowed by former Republican Governor Chris Christie – has some teeth in Edison, at least by the reckoning of Sam Khan.
In the lead-up to the contentious June 8th Democratic Primary, a recorded message by Khan gives insight into some of his reasoning for backing the local party establishment candidate, revealing his reluctance to buck the party and offending all the supposed power housed therein.
In the recording, obtained by InsiderNJ, Khan – a community activist and Muslim leader – urges people to vote for Edison Committeeman Sam Joshi or risk needlessly crossing the Democratic Party’s power structure, which includes Governor Phil Murphy and both sitting U.S. Senators.
They – and the Middlesex County Democratic Committee – all back Joshi over his challenger, businessman (and Edison Democratic Committee Chairman) Mahesh Bhagia, denied the county line last month on the strength of his promise to reform local government and rein in an establishment he contends has run amok in his town.
It’s a fool’s errand, according to Khan, one with dangerous political consequences for those who stick their necks out there for him.
Speaking in the recording to other Muslim leaders, according to a source, the former planning board member said he suspects Joshi – in part owing to the considerable support behind him by the party – will win, advising people to not put a target on their backs by going for longshot Bhagia.
“I do have a right to like or dislike any candidate and maybe I disagree with you but I am always there for the community,” Khan said in the recording. “Don’t express a message of hatred against my videos.
“This Joshi candidate, if he wins, it means he’s supported by the governor, local… assembly people… If Bhagia loses or wins, you are going against the governor, every single senator, either federal or state… You want to take that risk? [If you are] openly supporting Mr. Bhagia, [you have] all the right to do that but you should not do that. It will have a negative impact on the Muslim community.
“They are going to come against you why do you want to do that,” Khan said on the recording. “You [will be] making a big scene, exposing yourself. Why? Please, I am humbly requesting… think about for one minute, the community. In my opinion, Joshi is going to win. I am not here to divide the community. I am going to make sure Joshi is there for our community.”
Khan did not respond to requests for comment.