New Democratic Party Chair Wants to Bring Party Together

By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
NJ Today

At Passaic County Democratic headquarters in Woodland Park, new state party Chairman John Currie met with his top lieutenants this morning to plan Saturday morning’s Democratic Unity breakfast.

“Families fight, Michael, and you know, we want to bring this party together and show we are united,” Currie said.

The state party is clearly fractured.

There is the lukewarm backing of gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono by the state’s arguably most influential Democrat George Norcross. Thirty-two elected Democrats so far, most prominently Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, have deserted the party to back Chris Christie.

And four well-established Democrats are simultaneously competing in the Aug. 13 U.S. Senate primary.

So chairman Currie and his new Vice Chair Lizette Delgado-Polanco have invited every Democrat they can think of to the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick Saturday morning, starting with Norcross.

“Mr. Norcross could not have been more pleasant when I called and asked him would he consider co-chairing. He was excited about it, told me that he would be gone on vacation, said that he would prepare something for someone to say on his behalf,” Currie said.

It’s fairly common in both parties to hold some kind of unity event after, for example, a bruising primary. In this case, it’s after a bruising battle over who should be the Democratic state chairman.

Buono wanted Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell. Norcross, Sen. Bob Menendez and others wanted Sen. Ray Lesniak.

They compromised two weeks ago today on Currie, and most think the healing has begun.

Bill Pascrell III is a close Currie ally.

“The party is fractured — I will admit that, it’s fractured. But I think it’s fractured because we don’t have a governor to bring us together. We have a couple of leaders who’ve been trying to bring us together,” Pascrell said. “And I think Saturday’s the start to that. It’s the party under chairman Currie’s leadership.”

As for the Senate primary, Delgado-Polanco said, “It’s not a division because in every primary that we’ve had in the history of this party, people come together right after the primary and reunite around who the candidate will be.”

“We’re gonna get through this, Michael. You’ll see. It’s a long way to November,” Currie said.

After 20 years as Passaic County Democratic Chairman, Currie should know when the times call for a fresh expression of unity.