Re-election of Joe Biden: Where are the Democrats in New Jersey?

Re-election of Joe Biden: Where are the Democrats in New Jersey?
Re-election of Joe Biden: Where are the Democrats in New Jersey?

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Some New Jersey Democrats are supporting President Joe Biden with a healthy dose of populism.

“The corporate media and the political elite want to get rid of President Biden because they benefit from chaos,” Atlantic County Democratic chairman Michael Suleiman said Monday. “The regular people I talk to outside the political bubble are sticking with Joe, and so am I. Voters in the Democratic primary overwhelmingly voted for the Biden-Harris ticket, and the wishes of our rank-and-file members should not be ignored.”

It’s a page ripped straight from the script of that notable member of the outer borough elite – former New York real estate and casino millionaire Donald Trump.

Biden himself got into the game on Monday when he went on the offensive to quell the growing revolt among Democrats who are pushing for him to step down and let someone else lead the party in November, denouncing them as elitists.

“I’m frustrated with the elites in the party. ‘Oh, they know so much more,'” Struggling Joe told MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Monday morning. “Any of those people who don’t believe I should run, run against me. Announce your candidacy for president, challenge me at the convention.”

Despite Biden’s bravado, despite his defiant open letter to the party — carefully scrubbed for misunderstandings and errors — and despite the mobilization of party loyalists from safe constituencies who derided the pearl-clad activists, the pressure to dump the beloved and respected president continued to mount. The discussion has already led to public calls for his replacement from nine House Democrats, and more are likely in the coming days.

How do Democrats in New Jersey view Biden’s re-election efforts?

Former New Jersey House Representative Tom Malinowski made it clear in a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) on Sunday that he believes it is time for Biden to resign.

And in an interview Monday, Malinowski said Biden’s public letter was essentially a reiteration of what the president has said since his disastrous debate with Trump on June 28. That debate only reinforced in public the private concerns of many voters and Democratic Party leaders about whether Biden, who is in his 80s, could beat Trump in November.

“Every Democrat I know will be fully committed to supporting him if he decides to hold out, because we can’t let a dictator-loving sociopath back into the White House,” said Malinowski, who is now chairman of the Hunterdon County Democratic Party. “We also want to have a conversation about how we can best improve our chances.”

Rep. Mikie Sherrill, whose first campaign for Congress in 2018 was boosted by a Biden visit to her Morris County-centered district, also echoed that sentiment.

“Mikie’s focus is on defeating Donald Trump and taking back the House of Representatives, which is more urgent than ever given the recent Supreme Court decisions,” said Sherrill’s spokesman Sean Higgins. “She is in discussions with the Democratic caucus and House leadership about how best to achieve those goals and protect our democracy.”

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Most Democrats in New Jersey are taking cover from Biden

Still, most Democrats in New Jersey behaved like their Republican counterparts, who are always forced to respond to the latest Trump storm – they took cover. Few had anything to say.

Of course, there was also cheering on Governor Phil Murphy at his fundraiser with Biden using a teleprompter at the Murphys’ home on the Navesink River in Middletown:

“You’re on fire and we’re all behind you 1,000%,” Murphy told the president. The governor went on to call the president the “comeback kid.”

But for the most part they avoided the subject.

“I don’t think we’re going to get involved in that,” said one Democratic aide.

Even at the heated press conference celebrating the final commitment of $6.8 billion in federal funding for the Gateway rail tunnel project, Democrats from New Jersey and New York were careful to praise the Biden administration’s efforts on the long-awaited infrastructure project. After all, he is the infrastructure president – Amtrak Joe, in this case, the one who puts his money where his heart desires.

“If there’s one reason we’re here today, it’s the election of President Joe Biden,” said Senator Cory Booker. “This is the number one infrastructure project in the United States of America.”

Of course, the event was a historic and governmental occasion and not the place to heap political praise on. But then again, New Jersey remains a sideshow in the national presidential election, a reliable Democratic bastion that rarely becomes a battleground. Normally, the Garden State serves as a cash machine for both parties. Politicians here have the luxury of hanging back and waiting until they know when it’s safe to go out and sort things out on their own.

In this case, that would mean either Biden hears the barrage of concerned party activists and leaves the stage, or he stands firm and the party reluctantly agrees to stick with Biden, who has low approval ratings and is trailing Trump in poll after poll.

Biden’s strongest support is in part in South Jersey, where he is a known figure due to his close ties to labor unions in the Delaware-South Jersey-Philadelphia region. This explains Suleiman’s defiant support for the embattled Biden.

“Growing up in Atlantic County, I learned that we don’t let our own people down. As a family, we stick together and we persevere. That’s why I reiterate my support for President Biden,” he said.

But for many others, it is no longer about saving the candidacy of a respected Democrat. It is about saving American democracy.

Charlie Stile is a veteran New Jersey political columnist. To gain unlimited access to his unique insights into New Jersey’s political power structure and his influential watchdog work, subscribe or activate your digital account today.

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