PATERSON – Former Paterson Mayor Jeff Jones is looking to make his way back into politics. At the Masonic Temple in Paterson on Thursday evening, Jones announced that he would be challenging Democratic Congressman Bill Pascrell to take the helm of CD9.
“It is my intent an obligation to run for the U.S. Congress as the representative serving the ninth congressional district,” said Jones. During his announcement, Jones held a copy of the Constitution aloft and stated that nowhere in it was congress “listed as a life term.”
Jones faces some real odds in putting himself up against the long-time member of New Jersey’s congressional delegation. Pascrell has been in congress since 1997, first representing CD8 before redistricting put him in CD9. Furthermore, though Jones toppled incumbent Paterson Mayor Joey Torres to come out on top in the 2010 election, he was not reelected a second time. He served just one term before Torres reclaimed his position in city hall.
Looking at the upcoming congressional election, lighting would have to strike for Jones a second time and grant him a come-from-behind victory over an incumbent with serious fundraising muscle. In 2010, Torres outpaced Jones in terms of fundraising five to one. It was Jones’ grassroots appeal to Paterson’s African American community that carried him forward. During his congressional run, Jones will have to appeal to the same segment of voters, especially because establishment Democrats in New Jersey are likely to support Pascrell.
“As representatives of the worst Congress ever… the time is now to say the blame in politics must end,” said Jones. “We are here, Washington is where ever it is. Who has the power to delay… that budget? The Congress. We see who was responsible. If the question for me is ‘Why?’, when you have the worst congress ever the answer is clear. Part of this campaign is to end the cycle of incumbency.”
Jones also alluded to the fact that, though he is running as a Democrat in the June 7 primary, he may consider continuing his run as an independent if he does not best Pascrell in June.
“Let me make it clear, I am a Democrat,” said Jones. “I will be running in June but I believe that, if you can’t win as a Democrat, independent is a great option.”
According to Jones, while he has not yet selected a presidential candidate to align himself with, he understands how those dynamics might impact the upcoming congressional primary. Pascrell is a dedicated supporter of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and has a long history with her husband President Bill Clinton. Jones has no such ties and, he has made no decision on whether he will support Clinton or Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders for the presidential election. While It seems like Sanders is a natural fit for Jones, especially considering the grassroots nature to both of their approaches, the strong Pascrell/Clinton connection and the non-establishment nature of both candidates, Jones says he is reserving the right to decide “for at least another week or two.”
“I have been a supporter of the Clintons, I have,” Jones said. “But I like Bernie too. I like Bernie because he is saying something. He is not part of that monolith that I am aware of. I am listening to Mister Sanders. He is saying what I think we want to hear and, of course, it is a battle against the machine. But if the machine is not going to take care of us then I have no interest in the machine.”
According to Jones, his decision to run is about more than just getting into elected office.
“The end game is to get people to understand that we are not taking this anymore,” Jones said.
The congressional primary will be on June 7, 2016 so Jones has until then to start building up support among officials and CD9’s Democrats if he hopes to become a Democratic member of congress.