I want to talk a little about why. Active Dems in NJ-7 are battle-scarred warriors, particularly those of us in the western region of NJ-7, in Hunterdon. I run the DFA group there, and we were instrumental running a chunk of Linda Stender's field operation in 2006, when there were few campaign resources to be spent in NJ's most crimson county. We did well, helping to drive the 9% momentum shift uptick over the 2004 congressional race numbers in the Hunterdon part of NJ-7, the biggest jump in-District.
But much of the grass/netroots infrastructure that sprang to life for her in 2006, here and elsewhere, was ignored in Stender's 2nd campaign, a standard DCCC cookie-cutter deal. And, no surprise to us, the woman who came within about 3,000 votes of victory in 2006, caved in 2008 and lost by a whopping 9 points, as Blue Jersey's post-mortem analysis recounts.
There's a backstory to this. Five years ago, before Stender, Nathan Rudy - tired of begging the DCCC - decided "we'd have to do it ourselves." And Blue 7th PAC and Dump Mike - home of opposition research on Rep. Mike Ferguson - were born. They're gone now, and DFA's congressional campaign muscle here has atrophied a bit since 2006. That's why it matters that Ed Potosnak showed Hunterdon Democrats that he's the candidate more likely to create a solid campaign infrastructure.
Potosnak and Christodoulou got less than 6 days notice that Saturday's Hunterdon meeting was going to be the endorsement voting meeting. And Potosnak, long scheduled out of state, flew back overnight to get there, evidence he's got his game-face on. He's also gained some ground: He's declared with the FEC, which Zenon had not, and is already fundraising. More importantly, he's working the phones. Potosnak called every committee member he had contact info for.
Christodoulou also did well in front of that crowd, and explained the date to defend his PhD dissertation is fast-approaching, which kept him too busy to match Potosnak's outreach to date. Many of us know Zenon, a well-spoken, well-liked businessman with a history of raising money for national Democratic candidates like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. And I maintain that Somerset, where Potosnak also lives, is Ground Zero now. In October, the county shifted from majority GOP to majority Democratic. Riding that Obama wave. The Democrat who inspires Somerset County voters - including unaffiliateds - has a fighting chance of being the game-changer. But it won't happen without infrastructure, without doing all the homework. And before Hunterdon voted, the teacher Potosnak did that. Plus some extra credit.
Union County's screening of NJ-7 candidates is March 10. Somerset County's convention is 9am on March 27th, in Bound Brook. Middlesex County, not scheduled yet.
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