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.