Weeks ago, when New
Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski announced his allegiance to presidential
candidate Bernie Sanders, the collective response of party pros likely was: Say
The Middlesex County
attorney is the mild-mannered, thoughtful (very un-Jersey-like) liberal
Democrat who enjoyed multiple national appearances on the Rachel Maddow Show when Bridgegate was the rage.
He earned the spot by chairing the joint legislative committee that was
investigating the role of the Governor's office in the bridge lane shutdown and
subsequent cover up.
The exposure lead to speculation that Wisniewski
(who under media attention had morphed into The Wiz) was entertaining thoughts
of a race for Governor in 2017. But the story ran out of gas when the U.S.
Attorney asked all other investigations but his own to cease.
The Wiz went back to the
far less media-worthy job of running the Assembly Transportation Committee. And
then along came the most improbable ticket back to the limelight--Bernie
While Bernie's growing
poll blips were still relatively unrecognized, the Wiz announced he would chair
New Jersey for Bernie Sanders 2016 committee which will host it's kickoff event on Wednesday night in Sayreville.
Here's a taste:
But Wisniewski – two decades in
the legislature now and waddling in the playpen of second banana contenders for
the 2017 Democratic nomination for governor – needed to make something happen
to extend that narrative of righteous progressive paladin he forged – justly –
when Bridgegate made him the state’s leading counterweight to Republican Gov.
So while the rest of the
Democratic Party establishment zigged (gloomily and in slow motion) into the
camp of Hillary Clinton, Wiz zagged – the only one in the state to do so, eight
years after several handfuls of Democrats opted for Barack Obama over Clinton
in the 2008 Democratic Primary. Of course, Wisniewski wasn’t one of them.
He was firmly – albeit quietly – in the Clinton camp back then.
A year later, he royally
irritated that tiny inner circle of impassioned Jon Corzine supporters when he
bucked the governor on asset monetization and ever after earned their scorn –
even in the furnaces of Bridgegate when the assemblyman stalked Christie like a
hard-boiled detective in a Mickey Spillane novel.
Politicker NJ's editor suggests
that the Wiz's chess move might constitute a "grand Machiavellian machination,' but it also might be
driven by an equally strong streak of idealism.
It likely did
not take Bridgegate to convince Wisniewski that old-style, play-to-pay politics
has done serious damage to the country and its political system. He might think
that Hillary Clinton is not that much different than Donald Trump when it comes
to Wall Street and income inequity--or to getting a national airline to create
a new route to your vacation home town.
Like Bridgegate, we'll have to wait
and see how it all plays out. It may be instructive. It certainly will be
entertaining. Politics remains New Jersey's favorite spectator sport.
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Labels: Bernie Sanders, John Wisniewski, New Jersey, NJ, Politicker NJ, politics, The Wiz