Pat Allocco has read some of the Federalist Papers, but they left him more disillusioned than inspired.
“The concept of the Republic has been corrupted,” he said, identifying special interest money as the culprit.
As he begins a run for the GOP congressional nomination in the 11th District, Allocco wants to bring about pure democracy, and he says modern technology can help accomplish that.
“I will swear to vote the way the people want me to vote,” he said in a recent chat in a Morristown coffee shop.
And how is he going to determine that?
Allocco, 57, says he will simply identify pending legislation on his website, provide contrary viewpoints plus his own thoughts and let people in the district pick the way they want him to vote. And he pledges to follow through.
Or as he puts it, “check his ideology at the door.”
It’s an intriguing, but not an all-together novel, idea.
The notion of a lawmaker surveying his constituents every time he shouts “yay,” or “nay,” has had many detractors over time, most notably Edmund Burke, the famous 18th Century English statesman.
Burke put it this way:
“Your representative owes you, (the voters), not his industry only, but his judgment, and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”
There are also practical obstacles. Take some of the passionate, hot button issues of the day like abortion, guns and immigration.
Allocco says he is pro-life, but that he will reluctantly vote the other side on the issue if that is what the voters want. He, of course will try to persuade them to see things his way, but, “At the end of the day, it’s the district’s right” to have a congressman who votes their interests.
Allocco lives in Denville and is a veteran of more traditional, if not old-fashion, political battles.
His political resume dates back more than 30 years and includes stints working for the campaigns of Reagan-Bush, Jack Kemp and Thomas Kean Sr. More recently, he has worked for the state Lottery Commission and for Northstar, the lottery’s private operator.
Far more interesting than that was his 10-year stint as a concert promoter and a bizarre, if not frightening, incident in Angola. Allocco and his son arranged to promote a show in Angola on New Year’s Eve, 2011 featuring the rap artist, Nas.
But Nas never showed up. Allocca said Nas blew off his scheduled trip to Angola to attend a party at LeBron James’ house in Miami. This was no joking matter to Angolan authorities. Allocca and his son were arrested and held in custody – either in jail or under house arrest in a hotel – for about 50 days.
Not surprisingly, the experience impacted him and has helped shape his desire to run for Congress.
While in Angola, Allocca many times had only a cellphone at his disposal. He said he learned that social media was more valuable than he even thought.
Aside from surveying the public, Allocca said he plans to use social media to attract voters with a particular eye toward millennials and “Trump voters.”
There are some pitfalls here.
Trump is not popular in New Jersey, although he still does OK with loyal Republicans. But millennials tend to veer left if they think of politics at all. Typical GOP primary voters they are not.
Allocco is undaunted.
“Millennials want change,” he said.
Now that the filing deadline has passed, Allocco is in the race for a seat being vacated by Rep. Rodney P.. Frelinghuysen with two other Morris Countians – Jay Webber, a traditional conservative, and businessman Peter de Neufville, of which little is known. And then there’s Antony Ghee of Totowa who has locked up organizational support in Essex and Passaic counties, which combined make up about 40 percent of the district.
Allocco is convinced his experience as a concert promoter will help him, noting that there are similarities between running a campaign and staging a show, In both endeavors, it’s vital to analyze the public and find the best way to appeal to your potential customers or voters. And Allocca says he knows how to do that.
He also may have a secret weapon.
Maybe Allocco can entice the elusive Nas to come to Morris County for a fundraising concert to benefit his campaign. After all, you’ve got to figure that Nas owes Allocca a big favor.
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