Assemblyman Reed Gusciora’s early legwork to get former vice president Al Gore into the 2008 presidential race ran amok when Gore flatly said he wasn’t going to run.
The left Gusciora, a prime co-sponsor of the state’s Global Warming Response Act, without his optimum green candidate.
And although he likes the Democratic field, including both senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the state lawmaker from the 16th legislative district said he believes Feb. 5th is too early for a presidential primary, and remains uncommitted to any of the official candidates.
In an effort to harness other voters who may have similar misgivings about locking up a presidential pick six months before the convention, Gusciora has submitted his name to appear on the presidential primary ballot along with six others in his district as an uncommitted delegate candidate, including Wendy Benchley of Princeton.
“We have excellent candidates, but to make a decision so early is not a good idea,” said Benchley, who was also a member of the aborted Draft Gore movement.
“It’s not good for democracy to have super primary on one day,” agreed Gusciora.
“That’s why I decided to run as an uncommitted candidate,” said Benchley.”If I’m elected,I’m happy if other people who feel that way want to chat with me as the months go by. They can lobby us about who to support.”
In addition to the 9th Democratic Delegate District (which is composed of the 15th and 16th legislative districts) there are similarly uncommitted delegate candidates and alternate candidates in the 19th, 18th and the 5th delegate districts.
“I’m realistic enough to know that Gore has made it known he’s not interested,” said Gusciora. “I like Joe Biden, but he’s still at the back of the pack. I like every single one of them. I like Hillary, but I don’t like her position on Iraq. I like Barack, but I’m concerned about the inexperience factor. We’ve had eight years of inexperience.”
In a voting district that includes Princeton University, there are delegate candidates for Dennis Kucinich and Bill Richardson in addition to Gusicora’s allies in the uncommitted column. Gusciora’s intern, Thomas R. Guarrieri of Lawrenceville, runs the delegate slate for Kucinich.
“I encouraged him,” said Gusciora. “My office isn’t a dictatorship.”
Also among the uncommitted is Jenny Crumiller, president of the Princeton Community Democratic Organization.
“It’s just an uncommited slate, people who are undecided,” said Crumiller. “I like all the candidates. I just wanted people to keep their options open.”
Crumiller said she likes Obama, but prefers Clinton. She noted that Obama “overwhelmingly” won two recent presidential straw polls held by her organization.
For Gusciora, Crumiller and other uncommitted delegate candidates to have a shot at going to the Democratic National Convention, the Feb. 5th voting results in their district must show that at least 15% of Democrats registered a vote in the “uncommitted” column on the ballot.