by Scott Shields, Fri Feb 16, 2007 at 07:57:46 PM EST
New Jersey is a very blue state. Democratic Governor, Democratic Legislature -- both houses -- two Democratic US Senators, seven of thirteen Democratic Representatives in the US House. It's a solid record for the state's Democrats.
But people tend to forget that the Republican Party here is not dead. Just look at the list of folks staffing Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign -- his campaign manager, national political director, and national field director are all undeniably capable veterans of New Jersey GOP politics. In New Jersey's outlying counties, the Republicans are a serious force to be reckoned with.
Democrats have put up some solid challenges to Republican hegemony in New Jersey's exurbs. In the Morris County town of Long Hill, Dean activist Gina Genovese became the first Democrat to serve on the township committee in 2004 and then became the first openly gay mayor in New Jersey in 2006. And perhaps most impressively, Democrats in Bergen County have run the tables on the once-dominant Republican Party, and are now gearing up to target Santorum-level homophobe state senator Gerald Cardinale in the 39th District, who has compared same-sex marriage to pet owners wanting to marry their dogs.
But this week we saw an example of a Democratic gain in GOP territory that can be directly tied to the DNC's 50 State Strategy. Rosi at Blue Jersey has the story:
Tonight, in my tiny town of Flemington, New Jersey, Mark Legato (D) beat out Julie Luster (R) for a contested Borough Council seat Legato won in November by just one vote and Luster has contested ever since. We won by 30 votes tonight.
Our secret weapons were two young women in sneakers and blue jeans who pounded out our GOTV program over a sleepless two days in the inadequately-heated Hunterdon County Dem HQ. It was more efficient, more productive and frankly, one hell of a lot more fun than anything we have ever done. The Republicans didn't know what hit them. And it drove the win.
One of the fundamentals of Gov. Howard Dean's 50-State Strategy is Show up everywhere. And that doesn't mean just mayor's races in Salt Lake City, state contests in Alaska or gaining ground in the Show-Me State. For this to work it also has to mean that we concede no vote even in the most crimson portions of very blue states. Places like Hunterdon County. 50-State Strategy = 21-County Strategy.
This isn't abstract. Mary Campbell and Colleen Montgomery are the "two young women in sneakers and blue jeans" Rosi's talking about. If you've been active in New Jersey politics at all of late, you know them and you know how tirelessly they've been working to advance Democratic victories in the state. And they are on the ground in New Jersey as part of the DNC's 50 State Strategy team.
This is the 50 State Strategy in action, winning races at all levels, even if by the tightest of margins. This is how the Democratic Party is being reborn.