Conservative Democrat Albio Sires is retiring from Congress, basically to make room for a little nepotism, specifically for the son of corrupt New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez. The mostly Hudson County district-- which includes Hoboken, Elizabeth, Union City, West New York, Weekawken, Harrison, parts of Jersey City, Kearny and Bayonne and about half of Newark-- is a majority Hispanic district that was D+46 before redistricting and is now D+47. The Democratic primary is the election. Most of the Democrats who wanted to run when Sires said he was retiring have given up, afraid to piss off Menendez Sr and the venal Hudson County Democratic machine. But there's one brave soul running against them-- and we invited him to introduce himself today. Please read what he has to say and consider contributing to his campaign here.
Progressives Have An Opportunity In New Jersey
-by David Ocampo
My name is David Ocampo Grajales and I’m the progressive candidate for Congress in New Jersey’s 8th district. I’m a first-generation American born and raised in New Jersey to a working-class family from Colombia. I’m running because our community deserves a representative who understands the challenges we’re facing, has the urgency to fight for change, and knows we can’t afford to wait anymore.
New Jersey is an autocracy masquerading as a democracy. As proof of that, my opponent in this race is the son of Senator Bob Menendez, Rob Menendez Jr.
My Dad is a truck driver, not a senator, so in most years it’d be fair to assume that I’m a bit crazy for throwing my hat in the ring-- but not this year. Not in this election. In 2022, there’s a blue moon hovering above New Jersey.
New Jersey’s political machine depends on our state’s unique and corrupt ballot design. The county line gives candidates endorsed by the party a massive advantage before a single vote is even cast. In short, it gives party insiders, not voters, the unchecked power of handpicking elected officials. Others have explained it more eloquently than I can, but there are only two things you need to know for right now.
First, the down ballot candidates benefit from the name recognition at the top of the ticket. Typically, this is a statewide candidate for Governor, Senate, or President.
Second, “phantom” candidates can be used to push challengers horizontally on the ballot. This is especially confusing for voters when there are a lot of races taking place and encourages them to vote for candidates “on the line.”
So why is this year different?
This year, there are no big names to hide behind. At the top of the ticket will be candidates for the House of Representatives. At the same time, there are only a handful of local elections taking place. In other words, the ballot line will be at its weakest for the first time since 2010. It’s lucky then that Rob Menendez Jr. has the benefit of having the same name as his father. Free name recognition. Right?
I’m not saying that this will be an easy election, but it’s winnable. Autocracies are at their most vulnerable during the transition of power from one generation to the next. When voters in New Jersey’s 8th District step into the ballot box on June 7th, they’ll be faced with a clear question: is it okay for someone to inherit a Congressional seat?
With the ballot line at its weakest, voters might have the opportunity to answer that question honestly.
I’ve yet to speak with a single voter who supports nepotism and political dynasties, but many are checked out. Winning will depend on widespread outreach and education to let people know there’s a choice. We need your help to pull this off.
March 31st is the last FEC deadline before the New Jersey primaries in June. Last Friday, my opponent raised over $200,000 from special interest groups at a fundraiser hosted by his father.
From day one, I said that I won’t be taking a single dime from corporate PACs, fossil fuel executives, or lobbyists. We depend on small donations from grassroots supporters.
Please consider contributing whatever you can to help us beat the political machine. Every contribution-- big or small-- goes a long way. It lets us prove our viability, reach more voters, and pay our staff a living wage of at least $18 per hour.
New Jersey is more progressive than our elected officials would have you believe. The machine’s power is superficial and if we win here, it’ll open the door for a wave of progressive candidates across the state.