Saturday, February 25, 2006

Green Will Choose Primary Candidates

Plainfield Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Green told his committee members he alone will select candidates for two City Council seats.

Green made the announcement at a Democratic City Committee Friday. In previous years, he has allowed the committee to choose who will get the party line and has even opened it up to community members. But in the wake of a tumultuous year of Democratic factionalism, Green said, “I’m going to go out on a limb this year and make that decision.”

The filing date is April 10. The 1st Ward and the 2nd & 3rd Ward at-large seats are up for election.

Incumbents are Rayland Van Blake in the 1st Ward and Rashid Burney in the 2nd & 3rd Ward at-large seat. Both gained their positions with the support of former Mayor Albert T. McWilliams and both won committee seats running under the New Democrats for Plainfield slogan, in opposition to Green’s Regular Democratic Organization of Plainfield slate.

Green, who is also state Assemblyman for District 22, said he will accept resumes at his Prospect Avenue home address.

Green noted that some Democrats last year went so far as to support the Republican Party and he made it clear that he would not tolerate such behavior this year.

Last year, McWilliams changed parties after being denied the party line and losing the June primary to party choice Sharon Robinson-Briggs. But in a legal decision, he was denied a chance to run as a Republican in a “fusion” campaign with New Democrats who backed him in June. His subsequent write-in bid in November also failed, and Robinson-Briggs won the general election as well.

The city committee is a sub-set of the county committee and at present has former New Democrats as about one-third of its members. Once elected, all committee members are assumed to be part of the Regular Democrats.

But Green seemed to want to make sure all committee members were now party loyalists.

“There will not be any Democrats for Tom Kean coming out of this city,” Green said. “I‘m not going to tolerate it.”

Green referred to State Senator Thomas H. Kean Jr., who most likely will challenge recently appointed U.S. Senator Robert Menendez for his seat.

Green said committee members will be expected to back Democrats running for office at local, county, state and national levels. He cited “hard-ball” and “tough love” approaches to ensuring party loyalty.

Green said he will announce his choices for council seats at the next committee meeting about a month from now.

--Bernice Paglia

KEYWORDS: elections