The Republicans own the streets.
From supporters waving Trump flags at passing motorists to outdoor rallies to old-fashion intimate fundraisers, the pandemic is not stopping many Republicans from campaigning as usual.
In Morris County, there were three Trump rallies over eight days with the last being Sunday.
It prompted state Sen. Joe Pennacchio, who is also co-chair of the president’s campaign in New Jersey, to wonder what the Democrats are doing. Are they unenthused about the election?
Not at all, says Chip Robinson, the chair of the Morris County Democratic Committee.
“I’m operating under the assumption that I can’t have any large public events,” Robinson said.
Saying he personally knows people who have died from COVID-19., Robinson added, “I just feel pretty strongly that it’s not advisable to have large groups of people together.”
As he attended Sunday’s rally, Pennacchio scoffed at this sentiment and made a crack about Dems staying in their caves.
Don’t be surprised if this scenario is happening all over the country. We know now that coping with the pandemic breaks along political lines.
This may seem ridiculous to some, but it is the reality in which we live.
Generally speaking, Democrats and their supporters are more apt to follow health recommendations than Republicans and their supporters.
Gov. Phil Murphy held a press event Friday morning in Newark at which everyone was standing apart from each other and wearing masks. I saw basically the same thing at a number of Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.
At the three Trump rallies in Morris County, there was little social distancing and mask-wearing was sporadic.
Clearly, this sentiment is carrying over to the fall campaign where Republicans are holding many more public events than Democrats. For example, Frank Pallotta, the GOP challenger in CD-5., attended a Trump rally of his own over the weekend in Sussex County; Thomas H. Kean Jr., who is running in CD-7, has invited guests to the opening of campaign offices.
The website of the state Republican Committee lists a roster of GOP campaign events all over New Jersey. This week alone, there are scheduled fundraisers for David Richter, the GOP candidate in CD-3, the Republican mayoral candidate in Atlantic City and a freeholder candidate in Monmouth County.
What does the website of the state Democratic Committee say in regard to upcoming events? It’s a blank slate – literally.
Neither the campaigns of Democratic incumbents Tom Malinowski (CD-7) or Mikie Sherrill (CD-11) responded when asked if they were planning any public campaign events. Both Malinowski and Sherrill have held many events since the pandemic started, but most of them have been virtual.
An exception to staying virtual has been Amy Kennedy, the Democratic candidate in CD-2, who judging from her Facebook page, spent part of the weekend touring Cumberland County.
The left, of course, has been active through the BLM movement. While these are certainly political events, most of the speeches are not directly tied to the election. They are not, for instance, Joe Biden rallies.
So, if Republicans are holding public events related to Nov. 3 and the Dems are not, what does it mean?
Large crowds at rallies measure enthusiasm, but they don’t really attract new voters. Sitting at home making phone calls to unaffiliated voters may be more productive.
Yet, “pressing the flesh” and “working the room” are traditional political rites that only can happen in public settings with a crowd of supporters.
Robinson, the Morris Dem chair, knows that, but he remains resolute about not putting people at risk during a pandemic.
But he admits, “I would love to have a steak and lobster dinner.”
Robinson wasn’t being apocryphal.
Morris Republicans have an “exclusive surf and turf dinner” fundraiser set for Tuesday night in Riverdale.