Monday, January 25, 2016

In Jersey, The Wiz feels The Burn and takes a daring step

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 Wha?

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 Sanders. 

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.  

Let us direct you at this point to the brightly written piece by the anonymous 'PolitickerNJ Editor' that appeared last week.

The Smartest Man in New Jersey Politics (Today)

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. Chris Christie.
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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