Chronic imposter California has long tried to front itself as relevant to the political process as it routinely occupies New Jersey’s primary day air space, which this year falls on June 7th, tomorrow.
Most Democratic Party insiders see Hillary Clinton with a decided advantage over Bernie Sanders for the New Jersey vote, while California this year looks close: 49-47% by the reckoning of one late poll. Having amassed 1,800 delegates to Sanders’s 1,520, Clinton now looks to put away her nagging rival for the 2,383 delegates required to cinch the nomination.
At stake for the competitors tomorrow are 475 delegates in California and 126 in New Jersey and the presidential ballgame.
But a deeper rivalry exists, an inter-state rivalry, going back to 1984 when Colorado Senator Gary Hart complained on the west coast about having to slog through the toxic waste dumps of New Jersey while his wife coddled koala bears at the San Diego Zoo.
New Jersey rightly punished Hart that day as it rewarded former Vice President Walter Mondale with a 45-30% win, but there’s unfinished business, which we, with Bridgegate to their Golden Gate Bridge on our side, herewith settle once and for all:
10. Beach Boys Versus The Boss
Come on. Let’s get real. Pet Sounds is better than Born to Run? Really? I know Brian Wilson is a genius and the harmonies are wonderful. But the E-Street Band packs considerable more power and Bruce has put together a longer track record of greatness. Sure, it’s all three chords and Wilson was actually a musical genius, but only Springsteen went toe to toe in a guitar duel with James Burton – the greatest lead guitarist of all time – and actually distinguished himself.
9. Dianne Feinstein versus Cory Booker
Okay, he arguably spends more free time there than here, but she’s not even on the VP short list, and New Jersey’s junior senator chose New Jersey, not California, for his home stretch of Democratic Primary appearances today and tomorrow.
8. John Steinbeck Versus Norman Mailer
Steinbeck wrote Grapes of Wrath, which is a great and important book. But Long Branch’s Mailer wrote The Naked and the Dead, which is a better book, substantially less maudlin and arguably the best American book on war short of Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. Oh, by the way, where was Stephen Crane from again? Newark. So this is really no contest.
7. Ronald Reagan versus Woodrow Wilson
In a match-of of governors turned presidents, Reagan gave us that win in Grenada, and we shouldn’t take that away from him. But Wilson gave us the League of Nations. No contest.
6. Gary Hart versus Walter Mondale
In its infinite wisdom, California picked the Colorado senator over the former vice president, only to choose the loser, as New Jersey correctly went with Mondale, who won the Democratic nomination. Oh, by the way, New Jersey then went and picked Reagan in the general, furthering its own run that year of getting it right.
5. Malibu versus Wildwood
This is a joke, right? Wildwood gave the world rock and roll legends Bill Haley and the Comets while Malibu coughed up the soundtrack for the unforgettable Beach Blanket Bingo. Granted, the beach provided the setting for Charlton Heston’s infamous “damn them all to hell” scene in Planet of the Apes, but remember, that scene was a reenactment of the Jersey, not California shoreline.
4. The Hindenberg versus Earthquake
Lakehurst actually furnished the setting of one of the world’s all-time passenger ship disasters, the destruction of the German zeppelin following its 1937 trans-Atlantic voyage. California produced Earthquake starring Charlton Heston.
3. Loretta Weinberg versus Loretta Weinberg
The senator from Bergen County has California ties. But she lives and works in New Jersey!
2. Paterson versus the Grateful Dead
New Jersey served as the front lines for the labor movement, the 1913 silk strike providing the basis for the later formation of the eight-hour work day. San Francisco gave us those paragons of industry otherwise known as dead heads.
- Bill Clinton versus Jerry Brown
Yes, it’s true that California gave a (modest) win to Clinton over Brown In that critical 1992 Democratic Primary. But in New Jersey, the governor of Arkansas ravaged Governor Moonbeam: 63-20%.