How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Thoughts on Buono, Guadagno, & Oliver

Nationwide women have come a long way since Christie Todd Whitman defeated Governor James Florio in 1993 to become New Jersey's first female governor. As of May 2017, 39 women have served or are serving as the governor of a U.S. state. This does not mean that the pathway to the Governorship in New Jersey is easy nowadays for women. Both Barbara Buono, Chris Christie's Democratic opponent in 2013, and Kim Guadagno, this year's Republican nominee, have encountered various challenges that continue to plague female candidates for high-level office.

In 2013, State Senator Buono emerged as the Democratic nominee when no other candidate was willing to challenge the then popular Governor Christie, who had defeated Jon Corzine in an upset in 2009. Buono was sandbagged by her party.

In her campaign concession speech she minced no words when she thanked her supporters, people like Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman, who stayed with her despite "the onslaught of betrayal from our own political party." She went on to say, "The Democratic political bosses, some elected officials and some not, made a deal with the governor despite his representing almost everything they're against. They didn't do it for the state. They did it to help themselves politically and financially."

Buono and her running mate Milly Silva were treated poorly by Democratic power brokers, led by political boss George Norcross III and much of the Democratic establishment, including some 50 elected officials who endorsed Governor Christie. Many elected officials were reluctant to offend our then popular but vindictive governor who, according to every poll, was going to trounce Buono.

A blatant example of the appalling treatment she received was when the party's chair declined to choose her as one of the state's delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Another was the party's unprecedented unwillingness to allow her to pick the party chair. One of her former campaign aides described what happened as follows: "They didn't just throw her under the bus. They threw her under the bus and drove over her back and forth, over and over."

It appears that Republicans are taking a page of the Democratic book and have been unwilling to stick their neck out and do heavy lifting for Guadagno who is, according to most polls, more than 25 percent behind Democratic candidate Phil Murphy. Both the Republican National Committee and the Republican Governors Association have shown little inclination to provide substantial financial support to her campaign after heavily supporting Governor Christie. Republicans contend that her lack of support stems largely from her low poll numbers. Her recent criticism of both President Trump and Governor Christie has not helped with supporters in these camps.

As was the case with Bruno, this will mean that Guadagno will not have the funds needed to advertise heavily in the expensive New York and Philadelphia markets. In the primary, Murphy spent $21.7 million ($16.3 million of his own money) as compared with $2 million by Guadagno. She has received less than half of the state matching funds that Murphy has secured.

Jesse Unruh, Speaker of the California Assembly from 1961 to 1968, is credited with coining the phrase, "Money is the mother's milk of politics." Various studies acknowledge that while we are seeing more women running for public office at all levels, raising funds remains a major hurdle for women for various reasons, e.g., they have fewer personal resources than men; their social/professional networks are less likely to include individuals who support political campaigns, and leadership PACs contribute less to women than men.

Currently the lieutenant governor is chosen by the winner of the each party's gubernatorial primary and they run as a ticket. I'm beginning to think anointment may not the best way to select candidates who are best equipped to mount an effective statewide campaign down the road for governor. It may be that geography and age play too salient a role selecting running mates. As Max Pizarro wrote in Inside NJ, "The choice [of Sheila Oliver] by Murphy reflects the candidate's decision to go with a seasoned veteran from the Democratic Party's voter-rich Essex County." This is in spite of the fact that some believe, like Governor Christie, that the lieutenant governor selection "has zero to do with (getting votes)."

If Murphy wins, as is likely, will Sheila Oliver, 65, be positioned to succeed Murphy? I'm not sure, based on her age and her one gambit for statewide office, when she came in last in a four-candidate special election for the senate seat held by Frank Lautenberg.

The creation of the lieutenant governor position has provided an entry point for women and minorities to enter statewide politics, but so far it has not created a launching pad to be governor. This can be facilitated if our next lieutenant governor is afforded the opportunity to gain statewide exposure by giving them important assignments that allow them to show they have what it takes. Based on Sheila Oliver's extensive experience at various levels of government and service as Speaker of the Assembly, why not give her a shot at developing a bipartisan solution to our state's pension or school funding problem?