The Sopranos Primary
Today is the New Jersey primary and progressives are hoping to score a couple victories.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer in the 5th District is being challenged by Arati Kreibich.
Gottheimer, who was elected in 2016 to represent New Jersey’s 5th District, in the northernmost part of the state, is perhaps best known for consistently voting with Republicans — he voted with President Donald Trump 55 percent of the time last session and 77 percent of the time in 2018 — and being a terrible boss.
In the 8th District, seven-term Rep. Albio Sires is being challenged by Hector Oseguera.
In recent weeks, Sires has scrambled to mount a defense against Oseguera, including re-launching a campaign Twitter account that had been dormant since 2012. The two have traded barbs, each accusing the other of formerly belonging to the Republican Party, among other issues.
Like Engel, Sires is a favorite of pro-Israel groups — Democratic Majority for Israel contributed $44,000 in outside expenditures to support his campaign, Pro-Israel America endorsed him and he received $10,000 in donations from the Desert Caucus, a single-issue pro-Israel PAC.
Neither primary has any public polls, so the only thing we can go by is the fact that the incumbents are spending money on attack ads against their progressive challengers.
They wouldn't be doing this if they weren't a real possibility of losing.
The depressing reality is that the odds are against both progressives, and all the other progressive challengers don't stand a chance.
A recent analysis by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) found that no incumbent state legislator who ran on the county line had lost a primary election in New Jersey between 2009 and 2018. Although incumbents generally win re-election, that advantage is rarely so absolute. In New York state, for example, 22 state legislature incumbents lost a primary election during that same time period.
The reason for this is simple - corruption.
New Jersey’s political machines function like those that ran many U.S. cities at the turn of the 20th century—think Tammany Hall in New York City. They’re run by “bosses” who use their control of jobs and other resources to maintain political power...
New Jersey’s reputation for crime and corruption—one book on the subject is called The Soprano State—may suggest that machine politics is simply endemic.
Fortunately, all is not lost. The progressive insurgency is only a couple years old. The political establishent cannot be overthrown overnight.
Wresting control from New Jersey’s political machines is a daunting challenge, but progressive activists in the state have formed a coalition called Take Back NJ to do just that. The coalition includes New Jersey Working Families, an affiliate of the Working Families Party, as well as several dozen grassroots groups such as NJ 11th for Change, NJ7 Forward, and South Jersey Women for Progressive Change, which helped flip four congressional seats in 2018. The members of these groups often became involved in electoral politics for the first time, learned about the state’s sclerotic political system, and decided to focus some of their energy on fixing it.