Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19) this afternoon struck back at the Bernie Sanders volunteer who griped that the assemblyman has done little more than tangle up his legs as an establishment brand name improbably trying to plant his own flag on revolutionary turf.
“Some believe that supporting one person means you can’t support other people, and I don’t subscribe to that,” said Wisniewski, who infuriated the backers of CD1 upstart and Sanders backer Alex Law when he announced his support for incumbent U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross.
Wisniewski offered no apologies for supporting Sanders, who’s in campaign dogfight territory now in California with establishment favorite Hillary Clinton.
“His vision of America is more in tune to the needs of the middle class,” said the assemblyman. “He’s made a very compelling case, and that’s why I support him; and I support our incumbent Democratic congressmen because we need them. When Bernie becomes president they will work with him.
“Bob’s a nice guy,” Wisniewski added in reference to Bob Grant, “but he’s upset that he didn’t get chosen to be a district level delegate, a process that requires the campaign take in a number of considerations. I know he was disappointed, but that should not be a basis for broadsides of the kind that Bob leveled at me.”
The Sanders Campaign’s state director says the prez candidate is running radio and TV ads here and has a full swing field program made up of “an enthusiastic army of volunteers.”
As establishment types like state Senator M. Teresa Ruiz (D-29) make the base that Sanders should shutter his campaign next week and help unite the party, Wisniewski told PolitickerNJ that if his candidate comes up short, he could go a great distance to unifying Democrats if Clinton selected him as her running mate.
“Assuming he does not do well – and I have every reason to believe he will do will – speaking as John Wisniewski, I think there’s a compelling argument to have him on the ticket,” said the assemblyman. “Just look at the attendance at his rallies. Thousands of people showed up at a Bernie rally on Mothers Day. Hillary has an event and pulls hundreds of people. There’s just a different level of enthusiasm propelling Bernie Sanders, not dissimilar from what helped propel Barack Obama.”
Wisniewski noted that Sanders polls well with independents and argued that his affiliation as a socialist should not preclude him from being the same grassroots animal in a general that he embodied in the primary.
“The programs Bernie is embracing are not significantly different than the programs embraced by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. This is a man who is not worried about labels, and I believe far more people are not phased by a label than those who are phased by it. If you grew up in the 1950s and remember the Soviet Union, you have a scary connotation with that nomenclature. But for younger people, it just doesn’t have a lot of connotation. Berrnie attracts unaffiliated voters.”
Ultimately, Wisniewski said he will work hard to make sure whoever the nominee is gets elected.
“What troubles me as we move through this process is that Democratic committee people at the local level think [presumptive Republican nominee Donald] Trump’s quite a guy. We need to make sure everyone is on the same page. Bernie attracts so many more people who are not the insiders, and we need them to win.”
He called the Monmouth Poll released earlier this week that shows Clinton struggling (38%) to gain a strong advantage over Trump (34%) an early read, simply a snapshot in time. But he’s concerned.
A potential 2017 candidate for governor, Wisniewski broke company with former Goldman Sachs CEO Phil Murphy on the political tactical front. Last month, Murphy declared his 2017 statewide candidacy, just three weeks prior to the 2016 primary. “It’s no secret I have an interest [in also running for governor], but I would not have made an announcement to finalize anything prior to a Democratic election,” the assemblyman said. “We have to recognize that Donald Trump is a serious opponent and we have a lot of work to do.”