Union-backed candidates can be beat
By Seth Grossman, Political Columnist
(Reprinted from November 10, 2010 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://shorenewstoday.com/index.php/…n-be-beat.html)
Next November, all 80 members of the New Jersey Assembly and half the state Senate will be up for election. In Atlantic County, Democratic state Sen. Jim Whelan and Republican Assemblymen Vince Polistina and John Amodeo are up for election. In Cape May County, Democratic Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matt Milam will be defending their seats.
Last week I explained how the teachers unions and other public employee unions along with the building trades unions (whose members work on expensive taxpayer-funded projects) select, prepare and bankroll candidates who run state, county and local government when they are elected.
Once elected, union-backed candidates reward union members (20 percent of New Jersey?s workforce) with big tax hikes paid by the other 80 percent.
In most places, these unions control just the Democratic Party. But in Atlantic and Cape May counties these unions had effective control of the Republican Party as well.
Frank LoBiondo was the only Republican candidate for Congress endorsed by the New Jersey Education Association. Big labor unions and union companies paid for most of his campaign and ?persuaded? the Democrats not to run a strong candidate against him. This was LoBiondo?s reward for voting to eliminate secret ballot elections before forcing people to join unions. (But LoBiondo may be getting more conservative. Last August he voted against the $25 billion teacher-stimulus bill, yet the NJEA did not revoke its endorsement.)
In the legislature, Republicans Polistina and Amodeo almost always vote with Democratic Sens. Jim Whelan and Jeff Van Drew to give these unions whatever they want. Polistina and Amodeo voted for paid family leave, forcing public schools and local government to only use expensive union companies, hiking electric bills for union-built ocean windmills, hiking county and local taxes to bail out the union-built, over-budget Revel Casino project, etc.
These unions have effective control of Atlantic County government in spite of its Republican majority freeholders and county executive. Roy Foster, assistant business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 351, is on the Atlantic County Improvement Authority, where he lobbies for high-priced union construction projects, including the $40 million ?Institution of Technology? high school in Mays Landing.
This overpriced project duplicates programs already offered by local high schools and shortchanges the difficult nonacademic students who need real-world vocational job skills. But only Republican Freeholder Joe McDevitt forcefully opposed it.
This is not just because Republican Freeholder Frank Sutton is member of Plumbers Union Local 322. The unions also donate lots of time and money to Republican campaigns when their candidates vote the right way.
Many union members are also active in local Republican politics. Roy Foster has a big voice in the Hamilton Township Republican Club. Fellow IBEW Local 351 business agent Tim Carew is a Republican councilman in Northfield. Ed Kline of Brigantine is a Republican with a big union construction company that does lots of government work and gives big campaign donations. One of his employees, Sue Schilling of New Jersey Carpenter?s Union Local 623, is a Republican on Brigantine City Council. John Carman of that same union is a Republican township committeeman in Egg Harbor Township.
But things may be changing here too. This year the unions tried to punish McDevitt for opposing the $40 million Institute of Techology project. They ran Art Schenker, president of Plumbers Union Local 322, as a Democrat against him. The unions spent lots of money and even got Republican officials and union members Carew, Carman and Sutton to publicly denounce one of McDevitt?s campaign ads. But McDevitt won big anyway.
In Brigantine, Tony Pullella, an independent restaurant owner, ran as a Democrat, and with the support of a local tea-party type taxpayer group, defeated Schilling, the union-backed Republican candidate.
Union-backed candidates can be beaten. But it takes lots of time, energy and money. Right now the folks who run both the Republican and Democratic parties are meeting and picking their candidates.
By Christmas they will be done picking, and will start planning and preparing their campaigns. Whoever they pick will be union friendly. Whichever party wins in November will give us more borrowing, spending and tax hikes to pay back their union friends ? unless you and some other folks do something to change this pattern.
Nearly a hundred tea party candidates beat established politicians and big unions in elections for Congress around the country last week. It can be done here. But only by starting now.
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears on 1400AM talk radio Mondays and Tuesdays from 3-4 p.m. and on 92.1FM Saturdays from 9-10 a.m. For more information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held every Saturday from 9:30- 10:30 a.m. at the Shore Diner, Fire and Tilton roads, Egg Harbor Township.