Did COVID-19 serve up the weirdest NJ primary ever? Maybe. With the dust still settling on yesterday’s results, let’s take an offbeat peek at Who’s up and Who’s down!
🔼 Who’s UP? Sue Altman + NJ Working Families Party 🔼
Most of the Congressional candidates she endorsed lost decisively. But Sue Altman’s early support helped propel Amy Kennedy’s democratic congressional primary win down in South Jersey. This was the marquis matchup in the primary election cycle which culminated yesterday in NJ.
The results made national news.
Congressman Jeff Van Drew, Ms Kennedy’s rival in November, should be worried.
🔽 Who’s DOWN? George Norcross 🔽
Is there a more toxic brand in NJ politics (or even in general?) right now than that of George Norcross, the political boss running South Jersey? We think not (with the possible exception of Chris Christie.) Norcross’ imprimatur, once akin to the Midas touch, was the kiss of death for Brigid Harrison’s Congressional campaign.
I can scarcely imagine a more stunning repudiation than what actually happened yesterday.
🔼 Who’s UP? Money + Fancy Names 🔼
Republican David Richter and Democrat Amy Kennedy ran up huge totals in their respective primary wins yesterday in NJ’s 3rd and 2nd Congressional district. They both ran solid, error-free campaigns ago to seal the deal.
As part of the most storied and legendary political dynasty in American history, Ms Kennedy has the name recognition all the SuperPAC money in the world couldn’t buy. Mr Richter, who lives in Princeton, was rich enough to shop around and win in a district he doesn’t even live in.
An enduring day-after ritual, there’ll be a lot of folks taking credit for Ms Kennedy and Mr Richter’s admittedly impressive victories. None will mention either candidate’s immense wealth. Maybe that’s because deep down we want to believe that there’s a more equal playing field out there for the rest of us.
🔼 Who’s UP? William Cunningham 🔼
The surprise package from the NJ2 race was 3rd place finisher William Cunningham, a Black gay man with an intriguing back story. He overcame homelessness to graduate from Brown University. He went on to work for Senator Cory Booker and later for the late Rep Elijah Cunnings (D-Baltimore) on Capitol Hill. As chief investigator on the House Oversight Committee, Mr Cunningham took on the Vaping industry’s shameful marketing tactics to minors.
A billion-dollar settlement (and a brand new regulatory climate) followed.
The Philadelphia Inquirer took note in their endorsement:
“We like Cunningham’s support for bold criminal justice reform. Cunningham’s is an inspiring life story — homeless while a Vineland High School student, he earned a Brown University scholarship. His is a generation whose time has come.”
Will Cunningham humbled the vaping industry and protected our kids from nicotine addiction in the process. If he can do that, the sky’s the limit.
Remember the name!
🔽 Who’s DOWN! Jay Lassiter 🔽
I’ve been fighting to reform America’s pot laws since getting tossed from a medical cannabis dispensary by the cops in the 90s. For much of that time, the biggest obstacle to legalizing cannabis is people like Patrick Kennedy, the former Congressman whose wife Amy romped to victory in New Jersey last night.
Amy Kennedy basically co-opted her husband’s marijuana policy which includes a coercive version of decriminalization that treats the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ very differently indeed.
Forcing pot smokers into rehab and locking poor people up who can’t afford their pot fines is not good policy. My inability to convey that to my white liberal cohorts makes me a bigger loser than George Norcross.
🔽 Who’s DOWN? Christopher Columbus 🔽
Christopher Columbus has been voted out by the people of Trenton.
According to Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, the “the statue of Christopher Columbus, long held in the park of the same name, will be taken down and placed in storage. We’re grateful for the community input we’ve received on both sides of the issue, but what we know about Columbus simply makes his image a poor fit for a city that is as diverse as Trenton.”
The news trigged a predicable freakout from put-upon conservative who love to whine about liberals erasing history. First of all, re-examining who we put on pedestals is not the same thing as easing history. It’s actually feels like the opposite of that. And secondly, the criticism is mostly from elsewhere. Re-housing this statue is what the people who actually live in Trenton seem to want.
Jay Lassiter is a street warrior for LGBT liberty and marijuana reform. He’s often at brunch and always on twitter @Jay_Lass. He believes confederate soldiers do not belong on a pedestal and that the Christopher Columbus argument deserves a little more nuance.