How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

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

Could Rep. Rush Holt make a legitmate run N.J. governor?

A true progressive, Rep. Rush Holt has represented his district extremely well in Congress. He has been a strong proponent of the environment, scientific research and early childhood education; a leader in the fight against climate change, and a forceful opponent of privatizing Social Security, excessive spying on Americans and the war in Iraq.

Given Gov. Christie’s electoral success and the national media attention heaped on him, the fact that New Jersey is a genuinely “blue” state with a strong progressive tradition is given short shrift. If Rep. Holt were interested in running for governor, he could be a formidable candidate, if he were able to do the following:

1) He would need to raise lots of money early. Former California Speaker of the House Jesse Unruh got it right in 1966 when he said, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” When it comes to campaign contributions, the acronym EMILY (Early Money is Like Yeast) is extremely relevant. The best way for a candidate to show early strength in a primary is to demonstrate that he or she can raise big money. This will scare out fringe candidates who could clutter the field.

The ideal situation for Holt would be a three-man race with state Sen. Stephen Sweeney and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. In this scenario, Sweeney and Fulop could cancel each other out and provide a pathway for Holt. If there were a Fulop/Sweeney alliance and one of them dropped out, there would be no pathway for Holt. If Fulop were to support Holt, it would be a formidable alliance that could present a serious challenge to Sweeney.

2) A genuine attempt should be made to get some moderate Republicans to support Holt’s candidacy — I’m thinking of highly respected moderate Republicans such as Hazel Gluck, Bill Schluter and Christine Todd Whitman.

3) The campaign should reach out to supporters of Chris Daggett, who ran for governor in 2009 as an independent (he garnered a respectable 6 percent of the vote).

4) Early support of respected former statewide Democratic elected officials, e.g. U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley and Govs. Brendan Byrne and Jim Florio, would be helpful.

5) The campaign will need the endorsement of the Mercer County Democratic Committee and the Middlesex County Democratic Organization as well as some union endorsements to offset Sen. Sweeney’s widespread union support. The New Jersey Education Association and Communications Workers of America locals should be targeted.

6) The support of African-American and Latino voters in various urban communities, i.e. Trenton, Plainfield, Elizabeth and Newark, would need to be secured. In addition, the support of Indian, Pakistani and Asian-American communities statewide would be crucial. To that end, Assemblyman Chivukula Upendra is very ambitious, very qualified and would make an excellent lieutenant governor.

Given Holt’s historic support for scientific research and better science education, he should court the state’s scientists.

And progressives would need to be energized by making it clear that Gov. Holt would be committed to balancing the burden of providing for government services in a fair and equitable manner.

7) The overarching issue should be that government has in the past made the lives of our people better, e.g. Social Security; GI Bill; FDIC; federal highway system, and drug, health and safety standards, and that it must be there for the people in the future. Government should be there for folks who are making a genuine effort but can’t do it on their own. The key is leveling the playing field and trying very hard not to leave folks behind.

The campaign should embrace various issues that Holt has championed during his congressional career, e.g. job training, extending long-term unemployment benefits, health care reform, student loan reform, etc. that have directly affected the quality of life of the middle class. The campaign should not be reluctant to say that it would close loopholes to make sure the wealthy do not pay a lower tax rate than the middle class.

8) The case should be made that our state’s most valuable resource is our children and we should be investing in them. The campaign should emphasize that while New Jersey has an excellent public education system, it needs to do a better job of educating the children in our cities. In this regard, the campaign should embrace the nascent community schools movement but stay away from endorsing expansion of charter schools until it can be determined why certain charters are working and many others are failing.

Furthermore, the campaign should stress that the state should be putting its money into education in order to keep industry in New Jersey — not into providing exorbitant financial business incentives.

Winning the Democratic primary for governor would be an uphill battle, but the office is worth the fight. It carries immense power and has broad responsibility for improving the quality of life of our state’s citizens. A dedicated public servant such as Holt, who has an abiding belief in the American dream grounded in fundamental fairness and equal opportunity for all, should consider running for governor.