First, let’s establish the fact that any of the four individuals vying for the New Jersey Democratic Senatorial nomination is better for the state and the nation than the presumptive Republican nominee Steve Lonegan.
While the pundits say that whoever wins the Democratic nomination in August is a shoo-in to win the Senate seat in October, let’s remember that the parameters of this election are outside the norms on which the pundits base their predictions.
Due to Governor Christie’s shenanigans, the election is in October, not November. And it is on a Wednesday – a day not normally associated with voting. Additionally, Christie vetoed bills to make voting easier, likely to disenfranchise more Democrats than Republicans. So the conventional wisdom gets thrown away, and while not likely, it is certainly possible to envision a Lonegan upset.
Imagine a blue state like New Jersey with a Governor who is an acolyte of the failed George W Bush school of trickle down job creation and a Senator Lonegan who is a tool for the Koch Brothers. It could happen. Not because the majority of New Jerseyans would like to see that happen, but because of a combination of electoral prestidigitation and the influx of big corporate money.
What about the Democrats? There are parallels here to the Republican race. The anointed front-runner, Cory Booker, is the made-for-television candidate with access to corporate money from across the United States. Booker would certainly be a better choice than Lonegan, but the Newark mayor has strong, deep connections to the same type of corporatists who put profit above people. Booker is on the right side of social issues like marriage equality, but so are all of his Democratic opponents. But the distance between him and Chris Christie on educating our kids using corporate profiteers is minimal.
New Jersey General Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver is the only woman trying to enter the all-male New Jersey congressional delegation. While it’s a shanda that there are no women representing New Jersey in Washington, Oliver is not the right person to send to the Senate. She’s a tool of the North Jersey political machine, and is not running a serious or effective campaign for the nomination.
That leaves two other Democrats to consider – Representatives Frank Pallone and Rush Holt. Both are smart progressives and neither has the charisma of Booker. Of the two, Holt is the better candidate. He’s an unabashed progressive and as a scientist he would bring a much-needed new perspective to the debates in the Senate. He’s fiercely intelligent and unassuming. He’s not a career politician, having established his credentials as a scientist, teacher, and laboratory manager. New Jersey and the nation would be well served with Rush Holt in the United States Senate.