By David Cruz
It’s still months before the primary election in New Jersey but the leadership of the national Democratic Party was here to rally the troops, who are feeling feisty in the wake of the president’s health care bill defeat in Congress.
National Democratic Party Vice Chairman Keith Ellison and Chairman Tom Perez made a swing through New Jersey today. Their first stop? Newark, as blue a city as you will find in a blue state like this. And why not? The unpopular Republican governor is on his way out, and the president is reeling from the defeat of the health care bill and several burgeoning scandals, especially the administration’s ties to Russia, with the former national security adviser ready to testify before a congressional committee.
“This is definite cause for concern,” Ellison told NJTV News. “Can you possibly imagine if the shoe was on the other foot? I mean if they’re going to waste $6 million on a bogus Benghazi committee but don’t want to dig into this? This is putting party before country and we believe this is unacceptable. This is not about Democrat or Republican; this is the nation. A hostile foreign power tried to steal and undermine our election and now it’s trying to infiltrate our government and we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
The party, which was reeling after the presidential election and threatening to dissolve into fractious post-election finger pointing is now, according to its leaders, unified and on the offensive.
“The environmentalists have to work with the folks from housing; the folks from housing have to work with the people in Black Lives Matter; the Black Lives Matter people have to work with the LGBT community; the LGBT community has to work with those who want to make sure education stays public; those who want to make sure education stays public need to make sure that everybody is fighting against poverty and unemployment,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka. “We cannot eradicate these things separately; we have to do them together.”
“We’ve got a great opportunity in 2017 to send a message to the nation, electing Democrats up and down the ticket, solidifying the majority in the House and Senate, electing a Democrat to the governorship and electing people in municipal elections up and down the state,” added Perez. “We feel optimistic about the Democrats’ chances for success.”
There was dread and a fear that this party was done, but Donald Trump appears to be the gift that keeps on giving for Democrats. Do they now see him in that way?
“We are going to lead with our values and Jan. 20 was undeniably a terrible day for me but Jan. 21 was far more important,” Perez said. “The American people came together, communities around the country, in Washington, San Francisco, Newark, New York, everywhere to say, ‘Donald Trump, you don’t stand for our values.’ I see the energy and we’re working together.”
Today’s rally was organized by New Jersey Working Families and brought out union workers, public employees and a who’s who of the Progressive Industrial Complex in New Jersey brought together by their dislike of one particular person. Most observers believe the Democrats will retake the governor’s spot later this year and with just two governor’s races in 2017, the nation will be looking at New Jersey as a bellwether for the midterm elections in 2018, something Democrats are counting on and, now, organizing around.