Recap of PCDO Endorsement for Assembly, County, and Municipal Candidates

On March 19, 2017 PCDO members heard from candidates running in the Democratic primary at three different levels of government.

David Cohen and Leticia Fraga received our endorsement for Princeton Council. Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker received the PCDO's endorsement for NJ LD-16 after describing his vision for the state's future, as did assembly candidate Roy Freiman and senate candidate Laurie Poppe. Also appearing and receiving the PCDO's endorsement were Mercer County Freeholders John Cimino and Lucy Walter and Mercer County Sheriff John A. (Jack) Kemler.

Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and Councilwoman Heather Howard reported on Princeton's participation in the Welcoming Cities initiative and other collaborative efforts to support our immigrant neighbors.

A highlight of the program was Asm. Andrew Zwicker discussion how to resist intolerance in the current political climate.


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Video of PCDO Forum for 2017 Candidates for Governor

Forum for 2017 Candidates for Governor

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Raymond Lesniak Statement to PCDO members

Senator Lesniak on why he is running for Governor
Rutgers Magazine article, "Truth Teller," on Senator Raymond Lesniak


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Phil Murphy Statement to PCDO members


Phil Murphy is a true progressive who doesn’t owe the special interests anything. He will move New Jersey forward from the failures of Chris Christie and the State House insiders and, as governor, Phil will stand strong against Donald Trump’s outrageous and unconstitutional efforts.

Phil grew up in a family that lived paycheck to paycheck — a father who never graduated from high school and a mom who was a secretary — and put himself through college and graduate school with hard work, loans, and scholarships. After a successful career in business, Phil left to devote his efforts to working with those who most need a hand.  That’s why Phil and his wife Tammy have helped lead local charities that assist domestic violence survivors and troubled teens.

Phil Murphy served our nation as President Obama’s Ambassador to Germany, and was part of the team that rebuilt the Democratic Party, took back Congress from Republicans in 2006 and helped elected President Obama in 2008.

He co-founded a program at Rutgers so New Jersey’s long-term unemployed can gain the skills and contacts to get good jobs, is New Jersey’s sole representative to the national board of the NAACP, and has led national and state task forces on education and public employee pensions and benefits.



For a full view of Phil Murphy’s positions, please visit Below are Phil’s views on several key issues facing our state. 



Even as the rest of the nation has recovered, our economy is still where it shouldn't be — flat as a pancake and profoundly unfair. And, because of our broken system, if someone is getting ahead, it’s because someone else is being left behind. As governor, Phil will focus on New Jersey’s core advantages to attract businesses, empower workers, and grow the economy by growing the middle class. Critical investments have been put off for too long by governors whose only interest has been the next election. Phil Murphy will draw on his diverse experiences in the business, non-profit, and public sectors to create a dynamic and innovative 21st century economy that works for all New Jerseyans by:


  • Growing our economy through targeted investments in infrastructure, education, and small businesses;
  • Making New Jersey’s economy fair by raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, mandating earned sick leave and equal pay, expanding the EITC, and establishing a child and dependent care tax credit; and
  • Redirecting state and local deposits to an innovative public bank that will make critical investments in student loans, small businesses, and community development and infrastructure; putting our tax dollars to work for New Jersey rather than increasing the bottom lines of Big Banks and Wall Street.




Phil is a public school product and the brother of a recently retired Boston city educator. He is proud to have received the endorsement of the NJEA, which represents over 200,000 educators statewide.

Phil believes that our public schools are a critical part of what makes this state great. People move here and businesses invest here because of the world-class public schools in New Jersey. But for too long, we’ve had leaders who would rather spend money on tax breaks for special interests than invest in our children’s future. Rather than blaming educators, Phil will work with them to develop an education system that prepares every child to succeed in a 21st century economy by:


  • Restoring the only school funding formula that has been upheld by the Supreme Court;
  • Working to expand free pre-K to all families in New Jersey;
  • Ending high-stakes testing and replacing PARCC with shorter tests that provide real-time feedback to help educators correct problems immediately;
  • Implementing a state-of-the-art STEAM curriculum; 
  • Expanding access to community colleges for high school students and creating new vocational training programs to provide alternative pathways to success; and
  • Giving local communities a stronger voice in education decisions by working to end state takeovers and abandoning the top-down approach of the Christie administration.




Phil believes that if we want to keep our state economically competitive and successful, our leading export can no longer be high school seniors. He is committed to making college affordable for every New Jersey student. Specifically, he will:


  • Increase state aid to institutions of higher education, including community colleges, to lower tuitions and fees;
  • Expand access to community colleges for high school students and create new vocational training programs to provide alternative pathways to success;
  • Provide loan forgiveness to STEM graduates working in STEM jobs in the state and create incentives for private sector employers to provide student loan relief as a core employee benefit; and
  • Help New Jerseyans stuck with student loans at above-market rates by offering state-based refinancing at lower rates through a new public bank.




Access to health care is a basic right – one that is under assault by Donald Trump and Republicans in Washington and the special interests that support them. New Jersey has been a national leader on this issue before. Phil will make sure we are again. This starts with standing up to Donald Trump and the right-wing agenda to repeal the ACA and gut Medicaid and Medicare, which would cause nearly 800,000 people in New Jersey to lose coverage.

Phil will also take the lead on health reform at the state level by:


  • Lowering insurance premiums by reining in excessive out-of-network costs and bulk purchasing critical drugs, such as EpiPens;
  • Restoring state funding to Planned Parenthood and ensuring that all-FDA approved methods of contraception remain accessible to New Jersey women with no out-of-pocket costs;
  • Working to identify the state’s 75,000 uninsured children and enrolling them in health coverage; and
  • Expanding access to addiction treatment and services.




Phil will immediately restore New Jersey’s place in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Governor Christie’s decision to pull out not only slowed progress on lowering emissions, but it also cost New Jersey tens of millions of dollars that should have been used to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase energy efficiency, and improve air quality in urban communities.

Phil understands that we need to generate clean energy here in New Jersey and not import polluting electricity from neighboring states while exporting jobs. That is why he will increase the amount of electricity utilities are required to purchase from local wind and solar sources. He will also make sure New Jersey develops its enormous offshore wind opportunities, which will not only reduce our carbon footprint but has the potential to create good, new jobs. Phil will also develop a plan for New Jersey to eventually reach 100% carbon-free electricity. Through these efforts, New Jersey will regain its place as a national clean energy leader, which will both protect our environment and grow our economy.

Phil also knows that transportation is by far the largest source of climate pollution in the state. That is one reason why he believes it is paramount that the mismanagement of NJ Transit be corrected immediately. Phil will work to restore the safety and reliability of the country’s best statewide transit system. He also believes more needs to be done to make sure that electric vehicles are a priority and that all travelers, especially commuters, have easy, affordable access to electric vehicle charging stations.



We are a better, stronger, more representative democracy when more people participate. Across the nation, Republicans have systematically tried to disenfranchise voters. Here in New Jersey our over age-18 population is seven million people strong, but we have only 5.6 million registered voters and ranked 29th in turnout in the 2016 presidential election. The answer to both is clear: Make it easier for people to register, and give them more opportunities to cast their vote.

As governor, Phil will empower voters and increase participation by:


  • Making voter registration easier through automatic, online, and same-day voter registration;
  • Implementing early voting; and
  • Allowing 17-year-olds to vote in primaries if they will be 18 by election day. 




Phil is committed to helping make sure that anyone who works hard and plays by the rules has a chance to build a middle-class life. New Jerseyans face some of the highest housing costs and the highest property taxes in the nation. We also continue to suffer from the effects of the Great Recession, including the second highest foreclosure rate in the country.

We face an affordable housing crisis in our state. Phil will tackle it head-on by:


  • Stopping Governor Christie’s practice of diverting affordable housing funds to plug holes in the budget;
  • Expanding counseling programs to keep people in their homes and repurposing foreclosed properties as affordable housing; and
  • Expanding tax credits to create new housing; and
  • Lowering property taxes by funding our schools, incentivizing shared services, and restoring rebates to low-income, seniors and disabled residents.




Phil will not hesitate to take on President Trump to protect New Jersey’s residents and our progressive values. From defending the Affordable Care Act to taking on the president’s misguided efforts to roll back Wall Street reforms and consumer protections put in place after the Great Recession, Phil will hold Trump to account.

As governor, Phil will not enforce any attempts by President Trump to use our state and local police to enforce his un-American and unconstitutional proposals. And, he will appoint an Attorney General who believes the same.

Phil has held discussions with Dreamers at our state’s colleges and universities to hear their stories and assure them that they not are part of New Jersey’s future, but he will fight to protect their rights.

Since President Trump signed his January 27 executive order essentially banning Muslims from entering the United States, Phil has worked closely with New Jersey’s Islamic community to recommit his support, and to strategize on how we can best work together to protect New Jersey residents caught up in the confusion of this misguided and unconstitutional order.

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John Wisniewski Statement to PCDO members

Assemblyman Wisniewski on why he is running for Governor
Nothing's Impossible: Why I'm running for Governor. 
EDITORIAL: Wisniewski a worthy option as governor
Nov. 16, 2016
It was beginning to look like Phil Murphy would scare away every Democratic hopeful for governor in 2017 before the race even began in earnest.

But Assemblyman John Wisniewski isn’t bowing down to the Murphy coronation. He announced his candidacy on Tuesday, giving New Jerseyans a meaningful choice next June…  Wisniewski is the only one left standing among a high-powered group of politicians who had been considering a run before being overwhelmed by Murphy’s money and collection of commitments from county party leaders…

… Murphy, meanwhile, will have to convince voters he’s not the second coming of Jon Corzine, another wealthy Goldman Sachs executive with high-minded ideals who won the governor’s seat preaching reform and independence and left four years later a highly unpopular figure.

Wisniewski hopes to ride the wave of his leading role in the legislature’s Bridgegate investigation — and subsequent events have validated his determination in that probe. But even putting that aside, Wisniewski deserves a serious look from voters…

… Wisniewski presents a serious, straightforward style that demands respect. There’s little pretense involved; he makes no apologies for being a dedicated progressive. He chaired Bernie Sanders’ New Jersey campaign, He’s refreshingly honest about the value of taxes in providing revenue for needed services that can’t always be generated by spending cuts and economic growth. Many New Jerseyans don’t want to hear that. But it’s often the truth.

As chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, Wisniewski opposed the recent deal to increase the gas tax because he doesn’t believe it goes far enough; he says the eight-year agreement will lead to another hike beyond that, and he doesn’t support the tax-cut tradeoffs that made the deal palatable to Gov. Chris Christie and Republicans. Critics say that’s just more tax-and-spend talk. But he’s probably right…

… Something felt wrong about the Murphy groundswell threatening to secure the nomination so early. Wisniewski can at least make it a contest.



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Jim Johnson Statement to PCDO members

VIDEO: Jim's Challenge to the Insiders
NJTV INTERVIEW: Watch the Video
Facebook: Click Here
Twitter: Click Here
JIM JOHNSON Biography:

Jim’s family has called New Jersey home for four generations and began serving the state as soon as they arrived.

Jim grew up in Montclair, the second of three children.  His father was a Marine veteran and a small businessman. His mother worked as a legal secretary, church organist, and music teacher.  While Jim was in high school, she earned her college degree and eventually earned advanced degrees which enabled her to teach, at the college level, later in life, something  she continues to do today.

His parents worked hard, every day – and put education first, despite financial hardships.  With family support, student loans and part-time jobs, Jim earned his undergraduate and law degrees, with honors, from Harvard.

Over three decades of service to the public and in business, Jimhas been tested and is ready to lead New Jersey, clean up Trenton, and open the door to economic opportunity for those who have been shut out and let down for too long.

After law school, Jim served as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, successfully prosecuting violent drug dealers, white-collar tax evasion, and organized crime – including members of the Genovese crime family and drug dealers who tried to assassinate an undercover detective.

During the Clinton Administration, Jim served in several senior positions within the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  He started as an Assistant Secretary and President Clinton asked him to co-chair the National Church Arson Task Force.  Later, he served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement, overseeing the operations of one third of federal law enforcement, including  the United States Secret Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the United States Customs Service.  In the wake of the mass shooting at Columbine, Jim saw first hand the deadly results when guns are in the wrong hands and fought to close the gun-show loophole that contributed to the massacre.

At the end of the Clinton years, Jim returned to private practice, where clients brought him in to handle their toughest challenges.  He routinely advised companies who wanted independent reviews of their actions that met tough Department Of Justice standards for independence and thoroughness.  As a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, Jim was known for his calm demeanor, high ethical standards and insistence on getting the facts right.

In 2009, Jim was selected by a federal judge to oversee the settlement of an affordable housing conflict between the Department of U.S. Housing and Urban Development in Westchester County, NY.   His task was to hold officials accountable for fulfilling the terms of the consent decree. He also developed new, collaborative ways for communities to understand and solve the problems of developing and marketing affordable housing.

For seven years, Jim led the Brennan Center for Justice as chair and, at times, co-counsel, working to protect the right to vote, to reduce both crime and incarceration and to advocate for fairness for families facing foreclosure.  For two years, Jim led the State of New Jersey’s Advisory Committee on Police Standards, formed to develop a set of proposals to ensure that the State Trooper’s progress in eliminating racial profiling became permanent.  His work led to a change in the law that has transformed the relationship between State Troopers and civilian leadership and has withstood the test of time.  In the last two years, Jim brought together members of the civil rights and law enforcement communities in a collaboration known as New Jersey Communities Forward – a project within the NJ Institute for Social Justice.  Adopting a new approach, NJCF contributed heavily to the new policies on police worn body cameras, independent shooting reviews and implicit bias training.

New Jersey needs a new way of doing business – one that brings the wisdom of its people into the process and is forward-looking rather than crisis-driven.  Jim is running for Governor to ensure that all of our voices are heard as we work to improve our public schools, increase wages and benefits for working families, and invest in repairing our roads, bridges, water system, and mass transit.

Jim is married to Nancy Northup, an attorney who heads the Center for Reproductive Rights, a global human rights organization.  They have four children.  Jim’s eldest daughter, Abigail, teaches in the New York City public schools, as does his step-son Miles.  His daughter Amalya is a college freshman and his stepdaughter Natalie is in graduate school for rabbinical studies.

Jim’s mission has always been clear: siding with people against the powerful, to change the way New Jersey works for this generation and the next.


National Journal

January 10, 2017


Man Versus Money and Machine

Democratic party leaders want to anoint a wealthy ambassador as the next governor of New Jersey, but they’re overlooking one of the more compelling candidates of 2017.

One of the Demo­crats run­ning to be­come the next gov­ernor of New Jer­sey is a former fed­er­al pro­sec­utor who went after or­gan­ized crime rings, an un­der­sec­ret­ary of the Treas­ury in the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion who scru­tin­ized the fin­ances of in­ter­na­tion­al drug car­tels, and a re­former who has led ef­forts to im­prove com­munity re­la­tions with po­lice in his post-gov­ern­ment­al ca­reer. He boasts a rags-to-riches story as the first mem­ber of his fam­ily to gradu­ate from col­lege. Bor­row­ing from Pres­id­ent Obama’s cam­paign play­book, he is cast­ing him­self as an Afric­an-Amer­ic­an who can heal the di­vi­sions in a polit­ic­ally-po­lar­ized state.

No one is giv­ing Jim John­son, 55, much of a chance against front-run­ning Phil Murphy, 59, the wealthy Gold­man Sachs ex­ec­ut­ive who later be­came Am­bas­sad­or to Ger­many. It’s hard to even find much cov­er­age of John­son’s can­did­acy in the New Jer­sey press. But any­one who un­der­stands the im­port­ance of a com­pel­ling nar­rat­ive in polit­ics should be pay­ing close at­ten­tion to his cam­paign.

The New Jer­sey gov­ernor race—or, at least the Demo­crat­ic primary—is shap­ing up as an early test of the in­flu­ence of money and party bosses. New Jer­sey is one of the few re­main­ing states where un­der-the-radar in­siders wield tre­mend­ous in­flu­ence. Party lead­ers can fun­nel money to their pre­ferred can­did­ates, dis­suade in­terest groups from de­fy­ing the party line, and even de­note the of­fi­cial party pref­er­ence on bal­lots. In the gov­ernor race, that means New Jer­sey Demo­crats could see Murphy’s name in huge typeface on the bal­lot as the party-backed can­did­ate, with John­son (and oth­er primary can­did­ates) de­moted to fine print.

At a time when the en­ergy in the Demo­crat­ic Party is against Wall Street bil­lion­aires, it’s a bit coun­ter­in­tu­it­ive that a can­did­ate in 2017 is favored mainly be­cause of his eye-pop­ping wealth. But with tele­vi­sion ads cost­ing a for­tune to air across the state, self-fun­ded can­did­ates have an auto­mat­ic leg up over the com­pet­i­tion. Former Gov. Jon Corz­ine, an­oth­er Gold­man Sachs alum, pumped over $28 mil­lion of his own money in­to a los­ing reelec­tion cam­paign in 2009. Murphy brought in $7.3 mil­lion of in­come last year alone, ac­cord­ing to fin­an­cial dis­clos­ures, and loaned his cam­paign $10 mil­lion in star­tup money. John­son is start­ing his fun­drais­ing from scratch.

But if there was one les­son of the 2016 pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, it was that money is only as ef­fect­ive as the can­did­ate’s mes­sage. Clin­ton out­spent Trump sig­ni­fic­antly in the battle­ground states to no avail. In­sur­gent can­did­ates now have ef­fect­ive tools to over­come a fin­an­cial de­fi­cit, in­clud­ing di­git­al ad­vert­ising that gen­er­ates vir­al buzz and or­gan­ic ex­cite­ment from on­line so­cial net­works.

“In the last year, if you haven’t been sur­prised with what’s happened with polit­ics, you haven’t been pay­ing at­ten­tion,” John­son told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “I be­lieve in the polit­ics of con­vic­tion, not cal­cu­la­tion. I have lived my life build­ing un­likely co­ali­tions. I be­lieve not only is bridge-build­ing pos­sible but it’s all about who I am. The mes­sage of change that I bring, and track re­cord of change that I have will res­on­ate across the cam­paign.”

John­son’s cam­paign team is fa­mil­i­ar with us­ing an un­tra­di­tion­al play­book to pro­pel un­der­dog can­did­ates. His me­dia strategist John Del Cec­ato brain­stormed the mem­or­able ad for New York City May­or Bill de Bla­sio—fea­tur­ing his Afro-wear­ing son, Dante—that fueled his can­did­acy. Del Cec­ato told Na­tion­al Journ­al to ex­pect a sim­il­ar type of un­con­ven­tion­al ad cam­paign to in­tro­duce John­son to voters. An­oth­er cam­paign ad­viser, Doug Ru­bin, helped elect Dev­al Patrick as the first Afric­an-Amer­ic­an gov­ernor of Mas­sachu­setts. Like John­son, Patrick was a Har­vard Law School gradu­ate with no polit­ic­al ex­per­i­ence pri­or to run­ning — and was ini­tially viewed as a long-shot. He ended up win­ning his primary in a land­slide against the state’s at­tor­ney gen­er­al and a free-spend­ing ven­ture cap­it­al­ist.

John­son will be us­ing a strategy that has been a time-tested for­mula for Demo­crat­ic un­der­dogs: Win over the sub­stan­tial Afric­an-Amer­ic­an vote in a di­verse state, while ex­cit­ing white pro­gress­ives with a story that in­spires en­thu­si­asm. His cam­paign is also bet­ting on the the­ory (cham­pioned by Dav­id Axel­rod) that voters are look­ing for a rem­edy, not a rep­lica from the past. John­son’s wonky nature, soft-spoken de­mean­or, and de­sire for con­sensus couldn’t be more of a con­trast from out­go­ing Gov. Chris Christie.

Out of of­fice, Pres­id­ent Obama has pledged his fo­cus will be on re­build­ing the Demo­crat­ic party, help­ing to build a bench of tal­en­ted of­fice­hold­ers. He’s got an op­por­tun­ity to weigh in right away in a race pit­ting one of his top donors against someone whose rhet­or­ic is re­min­is­cent of his own ideal­ist­ic vis­ion of the past. If the New Jer­sey gov­ernor race was de­cided by résumés, John­son would be con­sidered a top con­tender. But the Demo­crat­ic es­tab­lish­ment’s ral­ly­ing be­hind Murphy is proof pos­it­ive that money, not mes­sage, of­ten makes the party go round.



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