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Friday, September 22, 2017

As Lesniak's sun sets, he burns his political bridges

Sen. Ray Lesniak and Mustapha Muhammed.
(from Facebook video).

InsiderNJ's Max Pizzarro ran a story Wednesday (see here) on Sen. Ray Lesniak's endorsement of Mayor Adrian O. Mapp's independent opponent in the November general election, Mustapha Muhammed.

As Lesniak's political sun sets, it is sad to watch him burning his bridges

Once one of the four or five most powerful figures in the Legislature, and widely known and respected for his advocacy of liberal causes, he now seems to be sinking in a sea of self-pity and vindictiveness which ill becomes him.

In the run-up to the June primary, politics watchers were puzzled by his on-again, off-again behavior towards running for the governor's nomination. By the time he exhausted everyone with his coyness, Union County's important Democratic players had moved on: Chairman Jerry Green, Sheriff Joe Cryan, and Sen. Nick Scutari had followed the lead of most other North Jersey counties and lined up behind newcomer Phil Murphy.

Cryan and Green were quoted in the media making kind comments about Lesniak, but indicating that their choices had been made and were firm. Lesniak pouted: he allowed as how he didn't think Cryan's statement was satisfactory.

Now, he's endorsing Mapp's opponent in the mayoral race (see the Facebook endorsement video here).

The video, posted to Muhammed's Facebook account on Sept. 15, is mostly taken up with Muhammed running through a stump speech patter, with Lesniak's brief endorsement tucked in at the end.

I was curious about the venue. It appears to be on a play area of sorts (there is a view of a macadamized basketball court) and on the periphery of some other event that is happening off screen.

Someone told me they saw Muhammed with Lesniak in tow, along a with a camera crew, at the summer concert at Milt Campbell Field on August 9. That would explain the background of the video.

To my knowledge, Mayor Mapp has always had good relations with Lesniak, so why this apparent attack? Is it really about Mayor Mapp? Or is it about taking a swipe at Jerry Green, toward whom Lesniak is still bitter over the way the June Primary election worked out.

But who does he have to blame for that?

In the meantime, Muhammed may just be an opportunist, hoping that Lesniak will toss some of his considerable campaign cash into Muhammed's Plainfield campaign.

Will bitterness and betrayal be Lesniak's final legacy?

  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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