Hey Jersey Democrats! Are y’all tired of Bernie and Liz people arguing all the time? Ready for the presidential primary season to finally kick off in earnest? I’m definitely ready. Passaic County Freeholder John Bartlett is ready too.
Iowa’s caucus is Monday, February 3rd, right around the corner! NJ primary voters won’t have their say until June 2nd, much too late in the process for Garden State votes to really matter.
But thanks to Mr Bartlett’s enduring civic-mindedness, NJ progressives w0n’t have to wait that long to express themselves in a meaningful way.
On January 31, Democrats from across the state will convene at the Lake Chateau Banquet Hall in Woodbridge, NJ for our own Iowa-style caucus. Here’s the Facebook event page for details. Doors open at 5pm for mingling and candidate presentations are at 7. Doors close promptly at 8pm and the caucus begins.
“We’ll be gathering in corners of the room and encouraging others to join our candidate and achieve viability in the first round of the caucus,” Mr. Bartlett told InsiderNJ. “Our venue is in the heart of the 6th Congressional District, and I’m happy to report that Congressman Frank Pallone is making efforts to join us for cocktail hour.”
High-profile surrogates are lining up to represent their top choice.
“Gov. Richard Codey will speak at 7pm as the surrogate for VP Joe Biden,” Mr. Bartlett added. “News about other surrogates will follow soon.”
Driving an hour for a political event at night is usually not my cup of tea. But Mr Bartlett organized a similar event in 2008 which I covered for BlueJersey. NJ’s Iowa-style caucus was an absolute blast and interesting civics lesson to take part in.
Honestly, I didn’t really know the finer points of caucusing and how much strategy goes into the process. Basically, a caucus involves several rounds of voting. Each round, whichever candidate gets the least number of caucus-goes in their corner is eliminated.
I was caucusing for John Edwards that night (yes, I’m embarrassed) and I recall the frantic rush to woo fellow Democrats as the candidates fell one by one.
“Come stand with us!” I urged a dispirited caucus-goer whose first and second choice flamed out. “I realize it’s your third choice but I think John Edwards has the judgement and temperament to lead and to bring us all together!”
That was my pitch to fellow caucus-goes and it worked. Edwards was the last man standing and his supporters carried the day. I recall Edwards’ campaign made a big deal about NJ’s result. The next day, it was front page news on their campaign homepage.
Don’t judge me too harshly about my epic wrongness about John Edwards. I grew up in Carolina and John Edwards sounded like the people who raised me. I liked his message about income inequality and I still do. Obviously, had I known he knocked up a campaign staffer and paid her off with campaign funds I would have caucused differently.
Live and learn, right?
So who will I choose when I join Freeholder Bartlett and a few hundred of my closest friends next Friday at NJ’s Iowa-style caucus? I’m not sure yet, although definitely NOT Mike Bloomberg. It’s gonna be a circus and I’m really looking forward to it.
And I’m pretty sure that no one who attends will watch the Iowa caucus the same way ever again.
Perth Amboy Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez represents NJ’s 19th legislative district in Trenton. She’s been tapped by by the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators as vice-chair of the Latino Voting and Elections Task Force for the upcoming 2020-21 term. Her tenure includes November’s presidential elections and also overlaps with the upcoming census.
“As the Latino vote continues to grow in strength and with the upcoming 2020 election, my roll on this Task Force will be to ensure that 32 million Latinos registered to vote feel empowered to speak for their community at the polls,” Ms Lopez said in a statement when her appointment was announced.
The Latinx community is growing in NJ and nationally. That 32m figure includes many who are bilingual and require smarter outreach to ensure 1) they vote in November and 2) they stand up without fear to be counted when the census taker come calling.
InsiderNJ reached out to Assemblywoman Lopez who’s eager to provide the culturally-relevant outreach that’s been lacking.
“So many people believe their vote does not matter and this feeling of disconnection is harmful to our democracy, “Ms Lopez told InsiderNJ. “Our goal is to inform voters and energize them to become engaged in the political process and to cast their ballot with confidence.”
Jay Lassiter is an award-winning writer, podcaster, and videographer. When he’s not driving the debate on multiple media platforms, he’s often in the halls of power, aggressively pressing his radical gay agenda.