Insurgent Democrats Excite Some South Jersey Republicans And Put Machine Democrat Hypocrisy On Display

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It’s no secret, much to the dismay of many of my Republican friends, I love a good primary election fight. Unfortunately, for me, there’s only one GOP primary (LD8) for me to write about and it’s kind of boring.

But at least the Democrats in Camden County are giving me something fun to watch, and it appears some Republicans are getting excited about it.

Things started heating up last week thanks to a Philadelphia Inquirer editorial, “The machine age of politics should be over in N.J., Philadelphia” and a piece in Politico by the great Matt Friedman, “Anti-machine Democrats in Camden County complain of ‘phantom candidates’.” Even the folks over at Blue Jersey got into the act.

I take no issue with any of those pieces, but they all had one name in them: George Norcross. And, whenever Norcross’ name is mentioned, Republicans seem to get excited.

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I’ve written before in this blog that “For some reason South Jersey Republicans get excited when they hear the name George Norcross. Well, here’s a newsflash for you. Voters don’t care! His name is not on the ballot.”

Yet, it doesn’t matter, still folks get excited at the mention of the Norcross name. Every time I say something like that I am accused of being pro-Norcross and/or the South Jersey Democrat machine. For the record, I’m not. Frankly, I’m not a fan of machines, period. That said, I do admit to being jealous that Norcross was able to build such a well-oiled machine.

This is not to say that I don’t work to beat that machine. I have and I continue to do so. The machine can be defeated. My co-host Bob Greco and I proved that. Back in 2009 when Greco became chairman of the Cumberland County Republicans he asked me to come work with him. We met a year earlier when I was working on state Senator Joe Pennacchio’s U.S. Senate campaign. Greco told me I could go at the Democrats as hard as I wanted – no leash – naturally I agreed since he promised not to put a leash on me. Together, along with quality mail by Chris Russell, we won and won enough that in only a few years flipped a 7 – 0 Democrat controlled freeholder board to 4 – 3 Republican. We did it with very little money and without mentioning the name Norcross.

Anyway, thanks to another Politico piece this week in the New Jersey Playbook even more people got excited over the insurgent Democrats challenge to the Norcross machine.

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I had never heard of GGCNJ before someone sent me a link to their social media post. Apparently, it stands for Good Government Coalition New Jersey and according to Facebook their page was created on June 4, 2017. They even have a website on which they claim to be a “nonpartisan, grassroots group whose mission is to strengthen democracy by working with residents across our state to bring greater transparency, accountability, and participation to our state and local governments.”

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Unfortunately, immediately after the line about being “nonpartisan” is the question “Want to build a progressive party from within?” Of course, that makes me wonder exactly how “nonpartisan” the group truly is.

So basically, it appears to me this whole anti-machine thing in Camden County is the progressives versus the establishment. I don’t quite understand why Republicans are getting excited over it – other than it’s fun to watch.

Now, if Republicans really want to make any kind of issue about all this Democratic Party infighting I would suggest they key on a letter penned by Camden County Democratic Committee Chairman state Senator Jim Beach in which he attacks many of the progressive (or are they insurgent) Democrats as “Trump Republicans.”

One glaring example is Jen O’Donnell. From the letter posted on CamdenCountyProgressiveDems.com.

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True O’Donnell once ran for office with Republicans, I know, I designed the palm card, she might have been registered as a Republican for all I know, but she was never a “Trump Republican.” The palm card was clear, she and her running mates were “Republicans and Independent Democrats.” Trump wasn’t even a candidate when I designed the palm card. Or at the very least not one I was paying attention to. So, to call O’Donnell a “Trump Republican” is a stretch at best.

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Another thing I would take issue within Beach’s letter is that he points out the criminal histories of several of the insurgent candidates.

Another thing I would take issue within Beach’s letter is that he points out the criminal histories of several of the insurgent candidates.

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I’m fairly certain the histories listed by Beach are true, but why speak out about these particular Democrats when he completely ignored the arrest of former Assemblyman Arthur Barclay and only after Republicans discovered the arrest did Beach say anything, and when he did speak, not a word about the arrest, only that Barclay resigned for “health reasons.”

And, that’s not the only time the Camden County Democratic Committee chairman sat silent when one of his own was in legal trouble. I still don’t think Beach has uttered a word about former Haddon Township Commissioner Paul Dougherty, the guy who was involved in a hit and run and tried to blame it on his wife and eventually pleaded guilty on an unrelated charge.

And when the Deputy Mayor in Voorhees was outed for getting into bar brawls Beach had nothing to say.

Considering he didn’t care when his own people ran afoul of the law, it’s obvious Beach’s letter has nothing to do with concerns about the past actions of the insurgent Democrats.

The bottom line here is there might be a reason to be excited by the insurgent Democrats challenge to the establishment Democrats in Camden County, but it’s not because the insurgents have a chance at winning. It is because it appears the hypocrisy of the establishment machine Democrats oozes out when the heat is turned up on them.

Keep it up insurgents! We’re all watching.

Haddon Township Commissioners Have Found A Replacement For Dougherty

Ryan Linhart (Source: Facebook)

Ryan Linhart (Source: Facebook)

Haddon Township Commissioners have selected Ryan Linhart to replace former Commissioner Paul Dougherty who resigned in disgrace for reasons completely unrelated to his hit and run car accident.

Linhart will serve as the Commissioner of Revenue and Finance. This makes sense since he makes his living as a financial analyst.

Apparently, establishment Democrats aren’t happy about this as Linhart comes from the progressive wing of the party. Sources close to the situation say local Democrats were lobbying heavy for someone else.

Linhart is married, has two sons and lives in the Bluebird section of Haddon Township. He did run against current Commissioner Jim Mulroy. He appears to have been active in the township having headed up the restoration of the New Jersey Avenue public park. He also served on the township’s Shade Tree Commission.

Linhart will have to run for a full term in May 2019. With local Democrats not particularly happy with this pick the May election in Haddon Township could be exciting.

Another South Jersey Democrat In A Fight, Another “It Is What It Is” Answer

Frank Gilliam and Jeffree Fauntleroy

Frank Gilliam and Jeffree Fauntleroy

The Press of Atlantic City did an excellent job following up on a story broken by Harry Hurley, specifically an “incident” involving Atlantic City Mayor Frank M. Gilliam and Atlantic City Councilman Jeffree Fauntleroy II.

Apparently, that incident was, according to The Press, “a fight with several other people outside a casino nightclub early Sunday morning.”

I’m guessing this story wouldn’t be as bad if Mayor Gilliam hadn’t spent the better part of the day denying it happened. As he told The Press:

Gilliam acknowledged Sunday night there was a physical confrontation. However, earlier Sunday, the mayor said there was “no incident” and “nothing happened.”

“I’m going to hold my comments until my attorney and the law enforcement people do this because I’m not even sure why you would have access to a videotape,” Gilliam said.

Then there was what Fauntleroy had to say:

When contacted Sunday morning, Fauntleroy said the incident was a “loud argument” and nothing more. Reached for comment Sunday evening, he said, “You saw the video. It is what it is.”

“It is what it is.” That’s exactly what former Assemblyman Arthur Barclay told the New Jersey Globe after it was discovered he was arrested on assault charges.

So that’s two South Jersey Democrats using the exact same phrase when contacted by the press after being in a fight. Is, “It is what it is” something South Jersey Democrats teach their members to say after getting in fights?

What about the silence from South Jersey Democrats? Barclay gets arrested, silence from his party. Former Haddon Township Commissioner Paul Dougherty crashes into the back of another car and leaves the scene. Silence from Democrats. The discovery of Voorhees Township Deputy Mayor Jason Ravitz getting into bar fights. Silence from Democrats.

Will South Jersey Democrats ever call out a member of their own party for doing something wrong? Probably not, they’ll probably just hide with each other and say, “It is what it is.”

Also, let’s not forget the 2018 New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference is happening this week in Atlantic City. Gilliam has to deliver the traditional “Host City Welcome” on Tuesday. He also delivers a welcome message to the League Delegates Luncheon. I can hear it now, “Welcome to Atlantic City where it is what it is.”

We’re getting used to this bad behavior by Democrats in South Jersey. To the rest of you, especially those headed to South Jersey and visiting Atlantic City for the League of Municipalities Conference. Enjoy your stay and remember, “It is what it is.”