How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

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

NJ Democrats Are a Mess and Need to Mend Their Ways

In a blue wave, New Jersey Democrats won four new seats in Congress and Senator Menendez beat back a well-financed campaign waged by pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugins to win re-election by a 53% to 44% margin. However, there are ominous clouds on the horizon that could trigger a Republican resurgence in New Jersey unless Democrats get their political house in order.

Although Democrats voted for Senator Menendez, we held our noses as we cast our vote. The majority of Garden State voters did not like Senator Menendez (only 29% had a favorable opinion of him and a staggering 49% of voters felt he was involved in serious wrongdoing). The Democratic Party leadership should have told him it was time to step down after the Senate Ethics Committee formally admonished him for his relationship with his a close friend and donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, who was indicted for defrauding Medicare of $73 million dollars. The Democratic Party showed a lack of moral leadership in the way it dealt with Senator Menendez.

The only reason that Robert Menendez is still in the Senate is because President Trump is incredibly unpopular in New Jersey. As long as there was any possibility of the Democrats taking control of the Senate, Democrats were not going to vote for a Republican who contributed more than $250,000 to President Trump’s campaign.

In addition to lacking moral leadership, the Democratic Party is a total mess from a governing perspective. Day-in-and day-out we read about the rivalry and petty bickering between Governor Murphy and the tandem of Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. It took months for them to arrange a meeting. The result is nothing has gotten done with regard to the big issues — tax reform, the unfunded public employee pension liability and desperately needed transportation infrastructure improvements. I’m sick and tired of hearing how the Governor and the Senate President dislike each other.

We now have a Democratic Governor who is in the midst of a scandal that smells all too much like Bridgegate in the sense that reasonable people are asking themselves whether it is credible that so many people in the Murphy administration knew what Katie Brennan was alleging and the Governor was unaware of the rape allegations until it became public in October. No doubt, lots of folks approach the Governor regarding a variety of matters, but an email to him and his wife regarding a “sensitive matter” that took place during his campaign would seem to warrant more than just a throw-away line that we are “on it.”

If you accept the Governor’s explanation, the more perplexing question is why did so many key members of Murphy Administration keep important information that he should have been aware of away from him? In Bridgegate the key questions for me was to what extent did Governor Christie foster a political culture that would make key members of his staff think it would be okay to punish the community that a recalcitrant elected official represented?

In the Katie Brennan case, why was an allegation of sexual abuse against a key member of the administration not taken seriously? Is there something about the political culture in the Murphy administration or his management style that this highly sensitive gender issue was not seen as sufficiently important to bring to the Governor’s attention? What other relevant information is staff hiding from the Governor? In these days of the Me-Too movement dealing with potential gender impropriety by turning a blind eye will not cut it.

CEOs and Governors set the tone and direction of their administrations. In the case of CEO, it means being able to work effectively with their Board of Directors in the case of a Governor it means working with legislative leaders, some of whom often have contrary agendas. To be effective you need to master the art of politics. Having enormous financial resources that enable candidates for statewide office to self-finance their campaigns and provide substantial support to the county parties apparently does not guarantee the political gonads to stand-up to political powerhouses like Senator Sweeney and his political mentor Donald Norcross. More and more Phil Murphy is appearing like the second coming of Jon Corzine, a wealth progressive with a good heart and a lack of political acumen that thwarted his ability to get his agenda enacted.

Instead of governing, Democrats in the legislature proposed a highly questionable constitutional amendment that would revamp the procedure for drawing Congressional district boundaries based on statewide election results which would heavily favor Democrats. The unseemly plan, which was withdrawn at the last moment, was spearheaded by Senator Sweeney, and opposed by the Governor and many others who saw it as blatant gerrymandering and a shameful power grab designed to diminish the power of the State Democratic Chair, a Murphy supporter.

Make no mistake about it. Had anyone other than Donald Trump been elected President and had the Republican put up a middle of-the-road candidate for the Senate there would have been an enormous cross-over vote that could have defeated Senator Menendez.

If Senator Cory Booker is successful in his bid for the Presidency and if NJ Dems continue to come across as mired in intra-party squabbles and devoid of the ability to effectively govern, we could eventually see Booker’s seat go to a moderate Republican like John Brammick or Jack Ciatarelli.