Just when you think you’re done for the year, you wake up full of piss and vinegar with something to say. What do you do? If you’re me, you take the the keyboard and hopefully sting 8- or 900 words together to make a column. So hello everyone, it’s me Jay, with one last offering for 2018.
New Jersey’s Frank Pallone becomes chairman of the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce when the 116th-Congress gavels in next month. He’s been ranking member of the committee since 2014. This is a powerful- and much coveted chairmanship befitting a Congressman like Frank Pallone who spent decades amassing tenure and seniority.
But seniority and tenure didn’t help Pallone’s colleague Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NYC), vanquished foe of one Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in this year’s primary election. She takes Crowley’s spot in Congress after campaigning for things like Medicare for All and a so-called Green New Deal, an economic stimulus plan that addresses climate change and economic- and social inequality.
The Blue Wave that Ocasio-Cortez rode to victory crested here in New Jersey when democrats flipped four seats on Election Day.
But Congressman Frank Pallone appears unimpressed with the progressive sentiment that’s taken hold within his own party. And now he’s got junior members of his party putting Pallone on blast via social media.
Ro Khanna was elected to Congress in 2016, knocking off the incumbent democrat in the process. That’s how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won: by primary’ing an over-confident, well-funded, tenured incumbent in a solidly blue Congressional district. And Rep. Khanna is furious that Rep. Pallone is already using his gavel to thwart the impulses of newer members.
“Frank Pallone is saying he won’t move a Khanna bill,” Khanna later Tweeted. “Why? Nothing to do with the policy. He is upset that I am supporting a Green New Deal and encroaching on his turf.”
I’m a big fan of Frank Pallone, a man whose progressive bona fides are rock solid. He was fighting for gay rights and reproductive choice since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ro Khanna were too young to vote. And all that seniority is good for NJ. Which is why the last thing our venerable Congressman needs right now is a pissing contest with the new blood.
The fervor and the fury and the energy within Congressman Frank Pallone’s democratic party is a different kind of restiveness than we’ve seen before. Ro Khanna and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez each engineered shocking upset victories in their respective primaries. They’ve both earned their chutzpah.
Congressman Frank Pallone, whose liberal DNA is not unlike his junior colleagues, should invite the gang of Green New Deal newbies over for some kumbaya. There’s nothing cooler than representing Asbury Park in Congress, amiright? Why not convene a Green New Deal summit at the Asbury Hotel to hash it out, learn from each other, and (most importantly) to formulate bolder climate change strategies in the era of Donald Trump’s galling ignorance.
If you’ve ever seen X-men you can imagine how that scene might play out: the wise, slightly cranky elder statesmen summoning the precocious novices to a fancy mansion to teach them and to nurture them and to harness their brilliance.
And to learn from them.
The future of the planet’s hanging in the balance so why don’t we schedule that summit immediately?
Among my columns for InsiderNJ this year, you’ll find some gems including a tribute to my late father, the OUT 100 Power List, and interviews with NJ’s newest Congresswoman, our attorney general, and health commissioner. I’ve penned 37 in total this year, including this one. But look for that number to grow in in 2019. The goal is 100 columns for the New Year. InsiderNJ has grown quickly in the last 2 years, so me writing more is a natural extension of that.
There’s a lot to cover: legislative elections, democratic party infighting, redistricting drama, and the legalization of cannabis among other things. Trenton will be fascinating at always. That’s why it’ll be fun and timely to file more stories from the statehouse in 2019.
I teamed up with Max Pizarro about 6 years ago when he was writer and editor at PolitickerNJ. Following him here to InsiderNJ made sense 1) because I like working for Max and 2) I really like having a soapbox and having a voice.
But this conversation is a two-way street. Whether I’m reporting or opining, I depend on sources to elevate the story. When people reach out to me with an on-the-record quote or some illuminating dish on background, I almost always use it. It’s easy to rely on the same sources, especially the ones you know will give you you amazing copy, but I wanna do better in 2019. So consider this an open call for quotable sources for the 2019 political season. Email me at Lassiter.Jay@gmail.com for find me on Twitter.
Frequently I get messages telling me “Dear Jay, you should write about such-and-such.”
Or…maybe you should write about it. And then email me your draft (word.doc, please) and I’m pretty sure it’ll find its way onto these pages. Only once in the past 5 or 6 years did someone’s OpEd not make the cut. All the others were published on InsidernNJ.
Yours probably will be too.
Until then, Happy New Year!
Jay Lassiter pioneered New Jersey’s current media landscape as state house blogger back in 2005. He’s done lots of winning- and losing on campaigns over the years while emerging at the state’s leading voice on drug reform. He award-winning podcast Heroin Uncut, the Truth About the Crisis should be mandatory reading/listening for every elected official in the state.