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Two rivals for leadership in the Democratic Party, one on the throne now and another at the edge of it, today denounced as racist a mail piece issued by the General Majority PAC, which is affiliated with South Jersey Democratic Power Broker George Norcross III, who raises money for the group.
“I absolutely condemn this mailer,” Essex County Democratic Committee Chairman Leroy Jones told InsiderNJ.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s Democrat or Republican, it is a racist mailer that reeks of that, and this is unacceptable across the board. You can’t condemn someone in Virginia when it’s happening here. I can’t tolerate that. I wouldn’t tolerate that in my county, in my state, or in my country. If the gentleman is offended by that, he should be. It’s wrong.”
“We just can’t stand for that,” said Democratic State Party Chairman John Currie, who’s pursuing reelection to the state chairmanship and next week leads the party at its annual convention in Atlantic City.
“It’s wrong,” he said, speaking from another party event this morning.
The sitting chairman issued a formal statement, which reads as follows:
“I was the victim of a racist flyer that darkened my face in the last election cycle. This is not a Democratic or Republican issue, but as Democrats we believe it’s important to call out racism and stand against it no matter what, including when a member of the opposing party is the target. Democrats Bruce Land and Matthew Milam had absolutely nothing to do with this mailer, however I am calling on the responsible parties to apologize and refrain from using racist tropes to attack our adversaries. Our party is better than this and we can only succeed in standing up to the racism and division coming out of the White House if we also hold ourselves to a higher standard.”
The mail piece funded by the 527 political action committee landed last week in the middle of arguably New Jersey’s most competitive legislative district this year, in support of South Jersey Democratic incumbents led by Senator Robert Andrzejczak (D-1). General Majority PAC in 2019 paid Norcross ally Steve Ayscue at least $75,000 so far. Sources say Jones is poised to challenge Currie for leadership of the New Jersey Democratic Party, to be decided in January. If he were to formally run for the position, Jones would have the backing of the South Jersey Democratic Party and its establishment affiliates, Norcross’ chief allies among them.
Currie is backed for reelection to the chairmanship by Governor Phil Murphy, who is locked in an intra-party war with Norcross (largely over the distribution of state Economic Development Authority's (EDA) tax credits that benefit businesses in S0uth Jersey close to Norcross) and Norcross’ chief ally in the state senate, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3).
Murphy and Acting Governor Sheila Oliver together unequivocally karate chopped the mailer here.
Last year, State Party Chair Currie denounced as racist a Republican mailer attacking the CD3 candidate Andy Kim, who would go on to beat Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur. The LD8 GOP team running this year in Kim’s congressional district, in fact, released their own condemnation of the LD1 mail piece run by the same group backing Democrats in their own competitive legislative district.
This year it’s his own party summoning Currie (and Jones) into an attack position.
LD8 and LD1 are the two most watched districts in the Nov. 5th general election. In the former, the general Majority PAC seeks to pick up two seats to add to the Democrats’ super majority. In LD1, the PAC is trying to defend a three-man team of incumbents, including the only state Senator on the current 2019 ballot.
In LD1, Republicans led by Cumberland County GOP Chairman Mike Testa – who is running against Andrzejczak – were the first this week to unequivocally condemn the mailer, issued by the same group that poured at least $7 million into Democratic Party coffers in 2017, most significantly the coffers of Sweeney; comprising nearly a third of PAC money spent in that cycle or 27% of all campaign money spent that year.
Targeted in a picture where he is running as one of 7,460 African Americans living in a district with 38,128 registered voters, Ocean City Councilman Antwan McClellan said, ”The Democratic party claims to be the party of inclusion; however, the moment a person of color like me disagrees with their narrative, they launch an ad hominem attack, whip out their best ‘Aunt Jemima’ photograph and purposefully darken my complexion in order to suppress dissent.
“This attack ad launched against me isn’t just tone deaf, it’s totally deaf to the economic struggles that faced all the people of South Jersey in the recent trying economic times,” added the Republican candidate. I am a Republican because we support job creation and real opportunity not just giveaway programs. I know about that struggle firsthand and promise to diligently represent South Jersey to increase economic opportunities.”
Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee Spokesperson Mickey Quinn said Andrzejczak and his ticket mates – running for election as “The Van Drew Team” as the senator hopes to secure the seat he occupies in the aftermath of Jeff Van Drew’s departure last year to Congress – had “nothing to do with the mailer,” according to a quote in Patch.
“Team South Jersey has nothing to do with any independent expenditure, as Antwan McClellan well knows,” Quinn told the news outlet. “However his refusal to address the content of this mailer is telling. It’s honestly amazing to hear Antwan talk about economic opportunities when his track record as a financial horror show is as well documented as his history as a property tax raiser.”
- 527 PAC
- Andy Kim
- Antwan McClellan
- Atlantic City
- Aunt Jemima
- Battleground New Jersey
- Bob Andrzejczak
- Essex County Democrats
- General Majority PAC
- George Norcross
- Jean Stanfield
- Jeff Van Drew
- John Currie
- Leroy Jones
- Mickey Quinn
- Mike Testa
- NJ Democrats
- Passaic County Democrats
- Phil Murphy
- Ryan Peters
- Sheila Oliver
- Steve Ayscue
- Steve Sweneey
- The Van Drew Team
- Tom MacArthur
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