The needler in the haystack.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

PolitickerNJ Plainfield story needs clarification


PolitickerNJ posts brief bits to its 'Back Room' section.


Sometimes journalists see contention where there is none. Take a little Plainfield item posted on PolitickerNJ's The Back Room section late Friday afternoon (see here).

The piece concerns Plainfield and the primary race for the Democratic line to replace Congressman Rush Holt, who is stepping down at the end of his term.

Plainfied Mayor Adrian Mapp was the first local elected official to endorse Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. Assemblyman Jerry Green, the local as well as Union County Dem chair, was left in the dust by Mapp's move. Though Green eventually engineered the endorsement of Watson Coleman at a gathering at Giovanna's, he is said to still be smarting over the incident.

As activists are aware, the design of the ballot by Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi can sometimes have twists and turns. This year's ballot is likely to have one such item for the ballots that Plainfielders will see and use.

Green, as chair of the Plainfield Dems, named his own slate (without a vote by the city committee's members) and denied popular incumbent Rebecca Williams the line for the Wards 2/3 at-large seat.

The New Democrats, who made an uneasy alliance with Green when he was pressured by former Union County Dem chair Charlotte DeFilippo to give then-Councilor Mapp the mayoral line, never disbanded their organization.

As a result, the New Dems were ready to act when Green ignored the grassroots of the local party and they filed a complete slate for the three seats that are in play this year, naming Williams for Wards 2/3, Charles McRae for Ward 3 and Emmett Swan for Ward 1, where incumbent Bill Reid has announced he is stepping down.

For over a decade, the New Dems have been running candidates 'off the line' and at the same time supporting candidates up-ballot who have the backing of the RDO. Both of President Obama's runs come to mind.

PolitickerNJ strays on two points.

First, by using the term 'bracket' to refer to the likelihood that the New Dem candidates may be in the same column as Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, who has not given up on a shot at the Congressional line in November.

The problem is that in election-speak in New Jersey, to be 'bracketed' with another candidate means something very specific -- that the candidates in question have filed with a common 'slogan' (by which they are designated on the ballot -- New Democrats for Plainfield, for instance) and identify themselves as a 'team' through their signs, campaign literature and fundraising.

While it is true that the New Dems will have to remind voters to vote for Watson Coleman in one column and the New Dem candidates in another, this is old-hat stuff for the New Dems.

PolitickerNJ should, however, correct its use of 'bracket' in this connection to avoid confusion.

The second point on which the political junkies' website flubs is not to mention that while Mapp is the New Dems' highest elected official, the leadership of the political club was assumed by Councilor Rebecca Williams after Mapp was elected mayor.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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