Veteran citizens’ activist Larry Hamm plans to vote for Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19) for governor, based on Wisniewski’s 2016 support for the 2016 Bernie Sanders presdiential campaign, he told InsiderNJ.
Hamm emphasized that his own personal choice of Wisniewski does not constitute an endorsement by the Newark-based group he leads, the People’s Organization for Progress (POP). “He has already addressed the POP General Assembly on his candidacy,’ Hamm said of the gubernatorial candidate.
“However, POP has not made an endorsement of any candidate yet,” he added. “We are going to hear from more of them before we do so. However, I personally am going to vote for Wisniewski. He supported Sanders so I am going to vote for him. I believe that if the Sanders voters want to push the Democratic Party in a progressive direction then we need to stick together and make our presence felt by voting in significant numbers for Wisniewski in the upcoming Democratic primary.”
Although Hamm backs Wisniewski, Democratic sources note that the assemblyman to date has not been able to get shake the same primary problem that ailed Sanders: lack of demonstrable and sustained urban support.
Hamm spoke to InsiderNJ on the same day that Democratic candidate Jim Johnson of Montclair released his first TV ad.
“My personal message to the people who voted for Bernie Sanders in last year’s presidential primary is do not sit out the upcoming Democratic primary,” Hamm told InsiderNJ. “Whether we are in the cities or the suburbs, no matter where we live we must come out and vote in the June primary. I believe the Sanders voters can become a significant force in the Democratic Party but we must vote in large numbers and we must vote together as a group. We all supported Sanders. Now, the person who was his campaign chair in this state is running for governor.”
Wisniewski was Sanders’ state director last year in New Jersey, where Hillary Clinton blew out the Vermont senator: 63.3% to 36.7%.
In his match-up against establishment choice Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive, Wisniewski – 20 years a member of the party establishment, and a former party chairman – has struggled to convey convincing people-power grassroots appeal, many Democratic Party sources say. But Hamm – one of the state’s most respected grassroots activists – sees it differently, and believes in the Sanders-Wisniewski alliance.
“Now, the person who was his [Sanders’] campaign chair in this state is running for governor,” Hamm said. “We can show our strength by voting for him in large numbers. If we vote in the same numbers as we did during the presidential primary last year we can have an impact on this year’s gubernatorial primary.
“This is one step toward building our political strength in preparation for the mid-term elections in 2018 and the presidential primary in 2020,” the activist added.