It has been a busy time for us and, with barely a week remaining before Election Day, it is only getting busier. Below is an update on several political items that captured our attention.
Raise the Minimum Wage
Are you ready for a stronger New Jersey and an improved economy — one that respects hard work with a better wage? We are. New Jersey is just too expensive to survive on $7.25 per hour. As Think Progress outlined back when Governor Christie vetoed the minimum wage hike, raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation would increase overall economic activity by $278 million in the first year and create the equivalent of 2,420 new full time jobs. More than 500,000 New Jerseyans currently making less than $9.75 per hour would seen a raise as pay scales were adjusted upwards.
Former U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg's state director, Brendan Gill, who serves on the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, made the case for supporting the increase in a guest newspaper editorial, here. As one news outlet noted, it's a "no brainer." On November 5th, as you fill out the entire ballot for Democrats, vote 'yes' on Public Question #2 without a second thought.
Barbara Buono for Governor — Vote on November 5th
Governor Martin O'Malley came to New Jersey the other day. The Maryland governor advocated sending someone to the executive’s office in the Statehouse who would be a leader for the people of the middle class. He argued Buono is just that person.
Meanwhile, Buono launched a new campaign ad recently. Senator Buono notes that she wants to be our governor, not the president. It's true, Chris Christie seems more interested in raising campaign cash out of state and cozying up to the Republican Party's radical conservative base than he is to addressing the challenges confronting New Jersey. He refuses to man-up to his record, and continues to say one thing and doing another. When you add it up, Chris Christie's record of taking responsibility for moving us forward amounts to nada, zilch, zero.
For some of the campaign's other highlights, here's compilation of 10 things you might have missed.
Senator-Elect Cory Booker
As a special treat, our newest Senator will be sworn in on Halloween.
In the meantime, he has been traveling the state campaigning for Democrats up and down the ticket. Last week, in Jersey City, Booker delivered a rousing endorsement of the Buono-Silva ticket. “We cannot afford to have the slow halting of our state," Booker said, highlighting the policies of Chris Christie that have tanked our economy. "It’s time to shift it to drive.”
A number of same-sex marriages were scheduled later that evening. President Obama even tweeted his support for the progress the Garden State has made toward equal protection under the law. Only later did Chris Christie concede that, as the State Supreme Court determined, his shameful effort to appeal the marriage equality ruling was a lost cause.
Superstorm Sandy Anniversary
As the New York Times profiled, with the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy upon us, Governor Christie's failure to follow-through on his promises to survivors are giving rise to anger and frustration. The cracks are showing in his false facade are showing. Bloomberg also reported how Sandy's left-behinds are bracing for another year without relief. The survivors deserve much better. When Senator Buono is elected governor, she will provide a renewed sense of urgency to hold insurance companies accountable and to get people back in their homes, placing the focus of her work where it belongs: with those who continue to struggle.
Although we were excited by Cory Booker's double-digit win, we continue to be disgusted by Chris Christie's waste of taxpayer dollars on a special election that could have corresponded with the November 5 election. But, no — first Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have expanded early voting and then he scheduled an election that made it more difficult to cast ballots, resulting in historically low voter turnout.
Elections are our opportunity to give voice to our leadership and policy choices. Participation needs to be encouraged, not discouraged. When fewer people vote, democracy is undermined. But more important, as we explained in a press release, Chris Christie's special election actually resulted in some voters having their ballots unnecessarily rejected. It's an outrage, and not even something the Republican Party appears ashamed of. For more on the GOP's nefarious — and bigoted — efforts to prevent people from voting watch this tragically comical Daily Show interview.
GWB Lane Closure Controvery
As Chasing New Jersey highlighted, there still has been no response whatsoever from Governor Christie's appointees to the Port Authority about the potentially illegal closure of lanes to the George Washington Bridge. The silence is not just disturbing, it is damning, and it lends credence to the allegations that it was a deliberate effort to exact political retribution. Until Governor Christie stops being evasive, we suggest that you contact the Port Authority directly to demand an explanation.
State Legislative Campaigns
Recently, Republican Sheriff Frank Balles, reprehensibly, told constituents of State Senator Jim Whelan (D-LD2) that if he came knocking on their doors to close the door, go inside and "get your gun." We were appalled. As our executive director said, "Encouraging violence toward any elected official is bad enough, but when it comes from the head of a law enforcement agency it's absolutely reprehensible." To make matters worse, Sheriff Balles denied his words. Senator Whelan deserves another term, while Balles needs to hand in his badge.
Also, in LD 16, what little support there was for the fringe Tea Party is crashing. As we outlined in this press release, in the contest between Democrat Marie Corfield and Republican Assemblywoman Donna Simon, we see hope for actually increasing our democratic majorities in the state legislature.
Star Ledger Endorsement
As you may have seen, the state's largest newspaper made a strong argument for why newspaper subscriptions continue to go down, concluding, as former Star-Ledger reporter Bob Braun explained, that we should "vote for a man who is a 'catastrophe' for the environment and 'fraudulent' in his budget." MSNBC's Rachel Maddow even took the time to call out "the weirdest newspaper endorsement ever." See her commentary here. By any objective analysis of the two candidates, Senator Buono is the better choice.
A congressional hearing got a little testy as Congressman Frank Pallone had enough of the needling that his colleagues were giving to the Affordable Care Act. After shutting down the government, the Republicans are back at it -- trying to scare people about the historic health care insurance program and prevent it from getting off the ground. This is odd because, as Think Progress explained, "Lower than projected premiums under the Affordable Care Act will save the federal government $190 billion over 10 years and increase the law’s deficit reduction by 174 percent to almost $300 billion." So not only does the GOP want to deny people coverage, they do not want to save money either? Strange.
I hope you find this review of the weeks events informative. Election day is barely a week away. Visit our website to find your polling location.
New Jersey Democratic State Committee