More news out of New Jersey, of the Kerry rallies for Jon Corzine on Saturday…
Kerry challenges GOP where it lives
Ex-presidential hopeful holds Morris rally
BY Rob Seman- Daily Record
MORRISTOWN — Former presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., told a few hundred of Morris County’s outnumbered Democrats that their votes would take a larger role in the state and nation by electing Sen. Jon Corzine as New Jersey’s governor.
The roughly two-hour rally at Jimmy’s Haunt provided something of a temporary oasis for the Democratic faithful in Republican-rich Morris County, which Kerry lost to President Bush by a wide margin in 2004.
But Kerry told his decidedly outnumbered constituents — with a little humor — that their efforts in the presidential election were appreciated.
“You all did everything humanly possible,” Kerry said. “You did everything except move to Ohio.”
Kerry’s appearance in Morristown was part of a day’s worth of appearances across New Jersey, including stops in Paramus, Wayne, Edison and Lawrenceville. Corzine, who appeared at the other stops, did not attend the Morris County event because he had another engagement.
Kerry told the Morris County crowd that Corzine would better represent the needs and desires of working-class New Jersey than Republican Doug Forrester. He also said Corzine would put the state in a better position to counter what he referred to as failures by the Bush administration to address the needs of the working class.
“You have a chance to put a person with real vision in office in two months,” Kerry said.
Although they are in a Republican stronghold, Kerry told the members of his audience that their votes for Corzine would have a larger role in the state and in the nation.
“Don’t think about any poll,” Kerry said.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s ahead or behind. All that matters is what you do between now and November.”
Kerry criticized the Bush administration on several occasions during his speech, saying other Americans struggle economically while the wealthy have thrived. Kerry also expressed outrage over the response to Hurricane Katrina.
“I think we ought to put intelligent design into Iraq, into FEMA and into the policies of this country,” Kerry said.
A who’s who
The crowd that assembled at Jimmy’s Haunt included a who’s who of Morris County Democrats in or seeking office.
Among the county’s Democratic officials were Parsippany Mayor Mimi Letts, Mount Olive Mayor Richard De La Roche and Morristown council members Michelle Harris-King, Raline Smith-Reid and Tim Dougherty.
“I thought he was really able to speak to the crowd about the issues they really care about,” De La Roche said.
There also were several Democratic candidates at the event, including Thom Jackson and Janice Schindler, who are running for Assembly in the 25th District, as well as Morristown council candidate John Cryan.
Jackson and Schindler said Kerry’s presence meant that the state Democratic committee is supporting Democratic efforts in Morris County.
“They are taking us very seriously, as they should,” Schindler said.
Dana Wefer, who is running for a seat on Morris County’s all-GOP board of freeholders, spoke before Kerry, saying that local Democrats were beginning to make strides.
“Never again will Morris County Republicans feel that they can wait until Labor Day to start campaigning. Never again will they think they can shirk their democratic duty to debate,” Wefer said.
“Never again will they think that, just because they align themselves with the party in power, that they are guaranteed re-election.”
According to the Morris County board of elections, as of Friday, there were 97,574 registered Republicans, 41,339 registered Democrats and 1,297 independents. Unaffiliated voters account for 155,176 of the county’s 295,464 voters.
Morris County was one of nine New Jersey counties that Kerry lost in 2004. Kerry received 90,476 votes while Bush received 126,761 votes, according to USA Today.
Yet Kerry’s presence emboldened many of the Democrats at Saturday’s event.
They included Chris Gargano of Morris Plains, who this year helped to resurrect the borough’s Democratic committee, which he said had been “dead” for years.
Gargano will attempt to put Democrats on the six-seat borough council and in the mayor’s office, all currently filled by Republicans.
“In order to initiate change on the national level, you have to start on the local level,” Gargano said.
The excitement, coupled with temperatures in the mid-80s, proved to be too much for Brenda Deming of Randolph. Deming arrived early and held her place about six feet from the podium to hear Kerry speak.
“I didn’t want to lose it to get shade and sit down,” Deming said on Saturday.
Deming, however, became dehydrated and fainted. She was taken to an ambulance and missed Kerry’s speech. She asked a paramedic to take a few pictures of the former presidential hopeful for her. Instead, he returned with Kerry himself.
“If I had felt better, it would have been the best moment of my life,” Deming said.
Though his peers erupted in applause and cheers throughout the speech, Kerry was reminded of the county’s Republican strength, as some people outside the patio area held up signs deriding both him and Corzine.
One of the signs read, “It’s the corruption, stupid: Stop Corzine,” while another asked, “Didn’t Kerry Lose?”
While the event was meant to promote Corzine’s gubernatorial run and recruit volunteers for the November election campaigns, many said Kerry was the reason they came.
“I don’t think we’ll get many chances to hear John Kerry speak in our lifetime,”said Doug Cloninger, 17, who came with classmates from Morristown High School.
“If he wasn’t here, I wouldn’t be here.”