With his campaign chief in jail, Edwards must rebuild New Jersey organization

John Edwards needs to start from scratch if he wants to build a new campaign organization in New Jersey for the February 2008 Democratic presidential primary: his top supporter is in prison (former Senate President John Lynch began serving a 39 month sentence in federal prison last month) and the four state legislators who backed him in 2004 (when most of the state Democratic establishment was for Howard Dean or John Kerry) are not with him again. Edwards is the first choice of just 8% of the state’s Democratic voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last week. That’s not much better than the 3% he was at in a June 2003 poll, before he ran for President and Vice President. Edwards does have some talent on his side: former stated Human Services Commissioner (and 2002 congressional candidate) Timothy Carden is taking a leading role in organizing New Jersey for Edwards, as he did in the last election. And Edwards has recruited a very able operative in Michael Beson, who directed Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign in New Jersey. A former aide to Congressman Frank Pallone and the ex-Mayor of Neptune, Beson was named PoliticsNJ.com’s Politician of the Year in 2003, in recognition of his success in building a substantial campaign organization for Dean in New Jersey. State Senator Barbara Buono says she will endorse Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, while Senators Joseph Vitale and Stephen Sweeney, and Assemblyman/Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas, remain undecided. Julie Roginsky, a Democratic strategist who appears regularly on Fox News and MSNBC as a commentator, has still not picked a candidate. She played a key role in helping Edwards build a New Jersey organization in 2004. Edwards has picked up the support of Nathan Rudy, a former North Plainfield Council President and a leading activist among progressive Democrats. Edwards annoyed more than a few Democrats when he arrived nearly 2.5 hours late for a campaign rally in September 2004, especially when party leaders found out he kept more than 1,000 supporters waiting in a Newark ballroom so that he could go to his hotel and work out first. Edwards is not the only presidential candidate who needed to rebuild his state organization because his campaign chairman went to prison: former Essex County Executive James Treffinger was Co-Chairman of John McCain’s New Jersey campaign in 2000. He spent thirteen months in a federal prison following his corruption conviction.

With his campaign chief in jail, Edwards must rebuild New Jersey organization