POLITICS

Seeds of an upset? Ex-Asbury Councilman takes on Dem establishment

Seeds of an upset? Ex-Asbury Councilman takes on Dem establishment

(Note from triCityNews Publisher Dan Jacobson: The following is my Message from the Publisher in our Mar. 8 issue.  We never post content from the paper on-line — unless it’s of critical public interest. That’s the case here.)

Now this could get interesting.

As this Publisher expected, the Monmouth County Democrats at their mini-Convention on Saturday endorsed a boring establishment candidate — a carpetbagger who just moved up here from Virginia — to run against Republican Congressman Chris Smith.

Fiery progressive Jim Keady, a former Asbury Park Councilman, came up short. Yet he still showed significant support among the delegates. Now he will take on the machine by running in the June Democratic primary against organization-backed candidate Josh Welle, a mutant who’s decided this is his time to be a Congressman.

(Hilariously, this Publisher was barred by the Monmouth County Democratic Chairman from voting at the mini-Convention, even though I was eligible to do so as a former Democratic Assemblyman back in 1990-91. Apparently, I haven’t been a loyal enough Democrat, as — shocking! — I’ve publicly endorsed some Republicans in these pages, while skewering some assholes who are Democrats. Hey, now I know how the Bernie Sanders people felt!)

Although conventional wisdom says Smith is unbeatable in this Republican district, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added it to its list of targeted races. For there is an outside shot to win.

At least for now, I am a Democrat in good standing — as the Monmouth County Democratic Party by-laws would describe me since I voted in the last two Democratic primaries over my revulsion at our Jackass-in-Chief. In reality, though, I’m a right-of-center voter. I tend to vote a bit more Republican.

Not now. I’m not voting for any Republicans. We need at least one house of Congress in Democratic hands to investigate Trump and expose him for the fraud he is. The end game for this voter is for Trump not to be on the ballot again, so people like me can vote for a Republican if we so choose. In other words, so the country has a sane choice.

That means contesting every seat in the House of Representatives with even a remote chance for the Democrats. That now includes Chris Smith’s seat. On social issue, I agree with Keady on everything, but on economic issues we part ways. He was a Bernie Sanders guy before people around here even knew who Bernie Sanders was. I think all that left-wing shit they espouse — while wonderful if it could work — is economic nonsense. Just ask the next Venezuelan you meet.

But that’s not important now. It’s all about stopping Trump. And Keady is clearly the best choice for this long-shot race precisely because he is a Bernie Sanders progressive. The best way to beat Smith is for an unprecedented turnout among Democrats. Keady can fire them up. Meanwhile, organization-backed candidate/carpetbagger Josh Welle says flat out that his strategy is to win over moderates and Republicans. I say it won’t work. Welle may be a Navy veteran — thank you for your service — but he’s a pretty lackluster campaigner. Seems like a typical ambitious politician to me, who’s typically uninspiring. Too canned.

Keady is a total animal who’s been consumed with progressive social justice issues since I first met him almost 15 years ago. He’s the real deal. By running in the primary, Keady will now get to put his theory to the test about his ability to uniquely boost Democratic turnout.

In New Jersey, it is extremely rare to win a primary without party organization backing. Josh Welle will now appear in the “organization” column on the Democratic primary ballot. The few people who bother to vote in such primaries blindly go down the organization column, as there’s rarely a serious challenger.

Keady, though, has some things going for him. This is a Republican district which means there’s even less Democrats there than usual. The turnout will be particularly light with no other high profile Democratic primary fights on the ballot, like for President or Governor. Keady can potentially reach this relatively small number of voters. And as a rule, the relatively few Democrats in a heavily Republican area like this tend to be the more hard-core believers in the party.

A Bernie Sanders progressive, running against a triangulating moderate like Josh Welle, can appeal to those true believing Democrats who’d vote in a primary. I’m not saying Keady can pull it off. Right now, it’s likely he won’t.

But it’s also not impossible. In fact, I’ve always thought Keady’s path to victory — and flipping this seat for the Dems — is to indeed lose the Monmouth Democratic Party convention, and then beat the party organization in a stunning primary upset.

That would be a big deal in the political community in the state, and the national progressive movement. That will attract Jim Keady a lot more attention and support than just winning the party endorsement and cruising though the primary. Local supporters will be even more fired up. In other words, if Keady’s theory is right that his brand of progressive politics can trigger an epic Dem turnout in this district, he has the chance to prove it by winning a huge upset in the Democratic primary.

keady sized for insert foto overhearAfter Keady lost the Monmouth Convention he was exhausted and a bit dispirited about continuing. But at a long-planned small-dollar fundraiser that night in Western Monmouth his supporters at right (or shown above if reading on a phone) wouldn’t hear of him backing out. These lefties — interestingly, the photo of the event shows they were an older crowd, with pretty much everyone over 50 and many older than that —totally reenergized Keady and got him back on track. It’s like the wise elders stepped in after his convention setback. I’d normally think of Keady’s progressive supporters as newly-energized young people. It’s interesting to see the age range.

And also the political range, which now includes this politically right-of-center Publisher — who is persona non-grata at Monmouth County Democratic Conventions in violation of the organization’s own by-laws. What a bunch of idiots. My one vote that day wouldn’t have made a difference. You’d think the response of Democratic Chairman David Brown would have been to say “Glad to see you back” instead of barring me for publicly endorsing a Republican. That I’m also a vocal supporter of Keady probably didn’t help.

Of course, I also endorse lots of Democrats and promote them, as well as social causes totally in sync with the party. Over the past 20 years, I’ve built a bit of a voice with this crazy paper, which I hope will be the deciding factor in beating the idiotic Monmouth Democratic machine in Keady’s primary.

 

 

 

Will Monmouth Democrats tolerate this? Welle deletes offensive tweet as Zipprich endorses him

welle original screen shot condensed(Note from triCityNews Publisher Dan Jacobson: The following is my Message from the Publisher in our Feb. 22 issue.  We never post content from the paper on-line — unless it’s of critical public interest. That’s the case here.)

“Wanna use an automatic weapon? Join the Marines,” tweeted a Congressional candidate after the tragic school shooting in Florida while retweeting a New York Times story about the tragedy.

A right-wing wacko running against, say, Speaker Paul Ryan in a Congressional Republican primary?

Wrong. This is actually a Democrat, one of the candidates seeking the Monmouth County Democratic nomination to run against Republican Congressman Chris Smith, whose district the national Democrats just announced they are targeting.

That Democrat is Josh Welle. And he’s a jerk off. This fraud is acting like he’s some conservative Democrat to win over Republicans in a very difficult race. Welle has come out of nowhere, a mystery man who just moved up here from Virginia because this political mutant decided it’s now his time to run for Congress.

Tell you what. I’m politically right-of-center, who’s voted for more Republicans than Democrats over the years, and Josh Welle is sure not convincing me. I live in Asbury Park, just outside of Chris Smith’s district. But if I lived across Deal Lake in Ocean Township, I would never pull the lever for this clown after his offensive and inappropriate automatic weapons tweet, which he’s since taken down. I’d simply not vote for either candidate, even though I’m ready to vote straight Democratic this year.

I’m utterly disgusted by Donald Trump. And we need a Democratic House of Representatives to investigate this fraud to truly expose him to the American people for what he is. The end goal, for this voter, is for Trump not to be on the ballot again, so people like me can vote for a normal Republican if we so choose — in other words, so the country has a sane choice. In the meantime, there must be a Democratic House as a check on Trump’s power.

That means contesting every Republican House seat where there’s even an outside chance of victory, including Chris Smith’s now that national Democrats are targeting it — although it’s still an almost impossible race for Democrats to win. The question today is whether the Monmouth County Democrats will go along with Welle’s bullshit and nominate him.

I’m backing former Asbury Park Councilman Jim Keady for the nomination, who, by the way, I disagree with on most issues, as he’s from the Progressive wing of the Democratic Party. He’s the real Bernie Sanders deal, spouting off leftist economic nonsense long before anyone around here ever heard of the Socialist from Vermont. This newspaper even opposed Keady in his two runs for Asbury Council. Still, I’ve always liked Jim personally and have watched him mature into someone, if I dare say it, I actually respect.

The Democrats best shot against Chris Smith is to nominate a known figure from the progressive wing of the party like Keady to activate their most passionate base, especially newly-energized young people. You only beat Smith with a record Democratic turnout in his district. Meanwhile, Josh Welle is acting like some conservative Democrat in a red state Congressional race thousands of miles away. Because he was in the military and tries to talk like a Republican, Welle thinks he can win Republican votes. He’s a fool. It won’t work here. Welle ought to have stayed down in Virginia, spared us his ego and pursued his ambitions there.

Here’s the problem with Josh Welle. If this right-of-center voter won’t support him in the wake of his offensive gun comment, just imagine what a mainstream liberal or progressive Bernie Sanders Democrat will do. They’ll abandon him and get involved in the two highly competitive Congressional races just north of here where the Democrats could flip the seats. In the effort to push back against Trump, that would in fact be the right thing to do. Josh Welle and his ego are a waste of time.

What’s so offensive about Welle’s automatic weapons comments is that they’re meant to be a dog whistle to conservatives and NRA members to show he’s not that bad for a Democrat, in that he can talk the slang of those who are OK with powerful weapons and support the military. In the wake of the Florida school shooting, his tweet with its bogus macho tone about firearms and the military is offensive, gross and inappropriate. There’s just been a horrific school shooting and this asshole is trying to use it for bullshit political reasons. Welle should get out of the race.

Welle touts his military background, saying on his website that he led missions in Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and east Asia for the Navy. Although it’s not clear what type of missions he led, I’ll give him the benefit of assuming they were in actual combat or potentially dangerous situations.

But while Welle may have been brave in uniform, he’s a political coward here on the ground in Monmouth County. If he had any balls, he’d put his offensive tweet back up and stand behind it. Or he’ll apologize and take the heat for it, knowing that it would jeopardize his political ambitions. He’ll do neither. Coward.

On top of all that, Welle’s first endorsement last week by a Democratic leader in our area was from Red Bank Democratic Chairman Ed Zipprich, whom this Publisher has repeatedly hammered for his antics as both party leader and a Councilman.

In Red Bank, they can’t stand Zipprich from all sides, as he’s done more than anyone else to rip that town apart. As a party leader he’s also a disgrace. Last year we called him out for shitting on Democratic Mayor Pat Menna. Zipprich issued a late night press release using an old quote out of context without Menna’s consent to make it sound like the Mayor was with Zipprich and his idiot council allies on the controversial parking garage issue. He tried to trap Menna, but the mayor publicly rebuked Zipprich in these pages for it.

If the Democrats follow the likes of Ed Zipprich and nominate Welle, Jim Keady should absolutely run in the primary. Why not? Welle can’t beat Smith anyway, especially after his gun comment (and another offensive moment at a forum when he snapped at a woman that it’s “none of your business” after she legitimately questioned where Welle really lives).

If Keady pulls off a primary victory, he’ll only further burnish his credentials nationally with the progressive wing of the party and fire them up even more, which just increases the odds of victory in this especially tough district. And should he lose the Democratic primary, he’ll at least expose Welle to the left as a pandering embarrassment, which will really ensure he can’t beat Smith — and Monmouth County will be rid of this carpetbagger who’ll go back to Virginia. That sounds like a win-win to me.

God, that automatic weapons tweet from Welle fired me up. Disgusted me, quite frankly. I’m so sick of the enablers of Donald Trump, including the NRA. After this particularly upsetting Florida shooting, to see a Democratic candidate try to talk in such a bullshit macho way about firearms and the Marines to make him sound palatable to Trump enablers in order to neutralize them gets me sick.

People who meet this Publisher for the first time are surprised at how calm and easy-going I am compared to my fiery rhetoric in these pages. The reason is simple. This column is therapy. When I’m furious, like I am about this Josh Welle jerkoff, I get it all out in my writing, which I do pre-dawn.

So, yes, I feel much better now, thank you. I can go about my day in peace.

At least until I hear some other jackass comment from some other jerkoff politician.

 

 

Mary Pat Angelini is a hypocrite. Dump her on Election Day, Nov. 3

Mary Pat Angelini is a hypocrite. Dump her on Election Day, Nov. 3

It’s our rule not to publish content from the triCityNews on-line. It’s what every other newspaper did in destroying themselves. We’re not idiots. But sometimes, when the public interest demands it, we’ll break that rule. That’s the case with my Publisher’s Message scheduled to appear on Thursday — two days after the election. But I can’t stand the idea of voters not seeing it before they vote on Tuesday. So I publish a version below. Here’s your advance reading of my commentary: 

This story is about one of the biggest hypocrites in Monmouth County — long-time Republican Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini. The woman is completely full of shit. It’s unbelievable.

Yes, of course, she’s so nice in person. Hell, she even wrote me a lovely note when my dog died. That’s not what this is about. It’s about her actions as a politician. In that regard, she’s a disgrace.

Angelini and her 11th District GOP running-mate Asssemblywoman Caroline Casagrande [shown above center and right] found themselves this year in a competitive race — a rarity for Republicans in Monmouth County. This column’s deadline is just before the election on Tuesday, November 3rd.

As an Independent and economic libertarian, I’d normally vote for Angelini and Casagrande. Not this year. I want them cleared out and replaced by Republican candidates in two years who will conduct themselves like serious adults in office.

Here’s the story of Angelini’s obnoxious hypocrisy:

An independent Super PAC organized by South Jersey Democrats has thrown a political lightning strike into her race — completely out of the blue and unexpected — by launching attacks on radio and cable television against Angelini, questioning her ethics in connection with Prevention First, the non-profit she runs that combats substance abuse. They were nasty attack ads. Oh well. What goes around comes around, as you’ll read below.

The ads questioned Prevention First getting state grants while Angelini’s a state Assemblywoman. That’s quite fair, actually. I’ve wondered about that myself. The ads also inferred that too much of the funds for Prevention First go into staff salaries and her salary. That’s not so fair, given that substance abuse counseling services are labor intensive. Hey, Karma’s a bitch.

Angelini, of course, was indignant about the ads. How dare anyone question such a fine organization and its work, she thundered!

Prevention First will be unaffected by all this, which will be forgotten after the election. What scared Angelini and her running mate Casagrande are that those ads threatened their political careers.

Boo hoo.

Four years ago, Angelini and Casagrande approved an even more vicious attack by the state Republican Party smearing their opponent, then twenty six year old Vin Gopal, whose strong campaign looked like a threat. [He's now the Chairman of the Monmouth County Democratic Party.]

The attack against Gopal was probably the most outrageous one I’ve seen in my over 30 years of involvement in politics. The mailers said that campaign funds corruptly obtained by a crook who was Mayor of Perth Amboy went into Gopal’s pocket, inferring Gopal’s complicity — but at the time, Gopal was only a twenty year old college intern on the guy’s campaign! The vicious attack trying to destroy young Gopal was condemned by prominent conservative columnist Bob Ingle and the Asbury Park Press editorial board.

I hammered Angelini back then too. She was expected to be the adult in the room. Instead, she betrayed her own addiction — no pun intended, for it is an addiction — to being in power, no matter what it takes.

With the Gopal smear, a real adult would have told the Republican Party that if they sent those mailers out she’d publicly condemn them — just as she wants the Democrats to condemn the attack ads against her now. And if the Republicans sent them anyway, a real adult would have make good on that threat and gone public, attacking her own party and apologizing to Gopal. Assemblywoman Casagrande also never said a peep, although I never expected better from her. Angelini I did.

So now enjoy the show as Angelini demands her Democratic opponents Eric Houghtaling and Joanne Downey do what she and Casagrande failed to do four years ago:

“If Houghtaling and Downey had an ounce of character they would denounce these untruthful attacks immediately,” Angelini said, in a report on politickernj.com. “Sadly, based on how they have ran this campaign into the gutter, my opponents will do and say anything to get elected, including lying about a non-profit dedicated to providing mental health, substance abuse and anti-bullying programs.”

How sweet it is. Here’s more from Angelini:

“My opponents and their special interest allies have hit a new low,” said Angelini, who, the website reported, fired off a letter to the station manager of 94.3 The Point about the ads. “Their disgusting lies about a charity that provides mental health, substance abuse and anti-bullying programs to more than 10,000 children and families a year shows how heartless and sinister my opponents truly are.”

Although Angelini threatened legal action to get the ads off the air, the Super PAC paying for them, which is completely independent of the local Democrats, wasn’t budging.

“The Angelini campaign does nothing to dispute the facts,” a spokesperson for the PAC told politickernj.com. “Specifically, that the funds raised by Angelini went to her staff salaries, or how much of that went into her pocket. And then finally, the almost $400,000 of taxpayer dollars she’s received as a member of the Assembly. She’s been in Trenton so long, she might not like it, but the facts and manner in which she runs a charity are an important consideration for New Jerseyans to make on Tuesday.”

Even better, let’s replay the condemnation of Angelini and Casagrande four years ago for their own smear and destroy tactics. The best was from veteran conservative columnist Bob Ingle, who writes for Gannett newspapers and published a book on New Jersey corruption called “The Soprano State.”

Ingle said the attacks on Gopal went “beyond acceptable ethical standards, even for The Soprano State.” He cited the mailing against Gopal featuring “a $100 bill and a newspaper report with only the headline readable ‘Aide to former Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas pleads guilty to money laundering.’ The text says some of that laundered money ended up ‘in an account that was used to pay Gopal’s salary.’”

But that aide who pleaded guilty to money laundering wasn’t Gopal. Yet the Republicans dragged Gopal’s name into it, and a confused voter would think it was him

Here’s Ingle:

“The real story is Gopal was 20 and majoring in political science at Penn State when he worked on maybe 10 campaigns in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for class credit, including the one for Vas. He had nothing to do with any crime.”

“But, readers could be misled to believe Gopal did something wrong. Horse feathers. Gopal is being dragged into the gutter by Republicans. They should be ashamed of themselves for being a part of this smear tactic.”

“It is a 100 per cent bald-faced lie.”

And the Asbury Park Press editorial board condemned the Republicans for trying to destroy Gopal: “The mailer lacked a complete sense of decency and fair play, further contributing to voters’ cynicism and disgust with politicians who will do anything to win election.”

Oh well. Voters don’t care. They’re asleep. They’ll get bamboozled by Angelini’s always friendly and pleasant manner

But this is why nothing changes. While I’d hope to report that Angelini and Casagrande will go down on Election Day, defeating an incumbent legislator in New Jersey, or in Congress for that matter, is almost as hard as defeating a member of the Politiburo in an election in the old Soviet Union.

Whatever. At least I get my frustrations out about the hypocrisy of politicians like Mary Pat Angelini. Thank God I have a column like this to vent.

Yes, I feel much better now. Thank you.

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‘All avenues of due process should be exhausted’ — A-Team candidate responds to Jacobson column

‘All avenues of due process should be exhausted’ — A-Team candidate responds to Jacobson column

dan harris VERT CROPPEDOn this website last week, I published a triCityNews column I wrote about the procedural mistakes I claim were made by the A-Team candidates in the May Asbury Park city council election — specifically about the use of vote by mail ballots.

A-Team candidate Dan Harris [right] sent a response. Harris is the plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking to open 327 disqualified ballots.

Here’s Dan’s response:

Your follow up on the election court challenge has been both in-depth and helpful.

You have managed to express how you felt about both sides of this controversy. You wrote about the judge’s decision and the A-Team’s approach to the election. Very seldom are both sides of the discussion expressed by one reporter. You are to be commended for showing responsible journalism.

But understand that all avenues of due process should be exhausted. This is not just for the candidates but for those voters whose votes were not counted. Somewhere in those ballots there are votes that should be counted. While this might not change the results of the election, it would give voters the chance to have their votes counted. Read More

Review of disputed Asbury ballot documents show A-Team violated rules

Review of disputed Asbury ballot documents show A-Team violated rules

[The following commentary appeared in the current issue of the triCityNews. We rarely put the content of the paper on-line, but in this case it's in the public interest to do so. Procedures were not followed with a large number of ballots in Asbury in the last council election — and that should never happen again.]

ASBURY PARK – Last week, I blasted the judge in the Asbury ballot case for simply throwing out the election challenge of the A-Team council candidates. That slate wants 327 disqualified ballots opened, which could change the results of the May 14 election with two, if not three, A-Team candidates winning.

So I did what the judge should do — and what an appeals court will tell him to do — I took a look at the ballots myself to determine what actually happened with them. [I filed an Open Public Records Act request to get access.]

Look, I’m vocally in favor of the A-Team having their day in court if they want it. But what I saw with my inspection of the ballot documents were substantial and unacceptable violations of procedure by the A-Team campaign. [The A-Team were candidates Jim Keady, Duanne Small, Daniel Harris III, Remond Palmer and Nora Hyland.]

Take your time and follow this story. It’s an important one. For the A-Team should back off their election challenge and appeal, and acknowledge they made substantive procedural errors. More importantly, this should never be repeated in future elections. Read More

This ain’t Berkeley: Republican praises Central Jersey marijuana facility

This ain’t Berkeley: Republican praises Central Jersey marijuana facility

It’s not every day that an elected official gets up and praises the opening of a medical marijuana facility around here.

And that certainly doesn’t happen every day from a Republican.

But a news release came across our desk today from state Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon — a Republican representing northern Monmouth County — that does just that.

O’Scanlon is an interesting cat.

He’s a fiscal conservative, and the ranking Republican on the Assembly budget committee. O’Scanlon [above with Monmouth GOP Senator Jennifer Beck] is also pro-life on abortion, yet he’s one of the few Republicans in Trenton who favor same-sex marriage.

Most interestingly, in the early days of the triCityNews newspaper — which publishes this site, along with the asburyparksun.com and asburyanchor.com — O’Scanlon was actually our food critic! It was fun stuff. O’Scanlon didn’t know enough to know what he was talking about, yet he knew just enough to be dangerous.

Read More