Somerset County Democrats Hold Pre-Election Gala/Pep Rally

Bathed in the room’s blue light, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy speaks to Somerset County Democrats at their Oct. 27 gala.

With less than two weeks before Election Day, several hundred Somerset County Democrats gathered in the township Oct. 27 for one last pep rally.

And leading the cheers was the man who tops the statewide Democratic ticket, gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy.

This was Murphy’s second visit to the township in just about two weeks. On Oct. 12, he spoke at a fundraiser for the 17th Legislative District candidates, state Sen. Bob Smith and state Assemblymen Joe Danielsen and Joe Egan.

In addition to Murphy, joining county Democrats for their gala at The Marigold on Hamilton Street were U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) and state Assemblyman Andrew Wicker (D-16).

Also on hand to speak were Mayor Phil Kramer, Township Councilwoman Shanel Robinson – who is running for county Freeholder – and Smith.

U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman speaks to the crowd at the Somerset County Democrats’ gala.

Seated in a ballroom bathed in blue light, attendees cheered on their speakers, each of whom exhorted them to work hard to ensure Democratic victories come Nov. 7.

“We’ve got a real shot to reset the legislative bar here in Somerset County,” Murphy told the crowd. “We have a shot to pick up in places we haven’t in a long, long time, and I’m with you.”

“There are outstanding candidates up and down the ballot,” he said.

Turning his attention to his own race, against current Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, Murphy focused on policies he would work for if he wins.

“By God, we’ll be progressive,” he said. “There’s a long list of items on that progressive agenda, but I’ll give you the top three: we will fund Planned Parenthood, you have my word; we will completely respect the Second Amendment but we will also sign all the gun safety laws that this governor has vetoed to make our communities safer,  and we will accept the sad reality of climate change and we will do something about it.”

“We can be responsible and progressive again,” Murphy said.

Murphy said his administration would also defend New Jersey against what he characterized as attacks from Washington, D.C.

“We will not ignore what comes out of Washington at us,” he said. Because of the state’s size and diversity of its population, he said, “almost anything that comes out of Washington is going to impact New Jersey.”

“So when there’s a health care bill that should it become law and victim state number one is New Jersey, we will not be silent,” Murphy said. “When there’s a tax bill being baked as we speak and victim state number one for different reasons is New Jersey, we will not be silent. When there’s a breakdown in moral authority as we saw in Charlottesville Va., and we have a president who thinks you can get a ‘Gentleman’s C’ for moral authority when we all know it’s pass/fail and he failed the test, we will not be silent.”

“When 58 innocent people are killed and my opponent says either or both, now is not the time to talk about gun safety, and then went on to say I think we’re just fine with what we’ve got, my answer back is, let me ask you this, who said it was time for those 58 people to lose their lives?” Murphy said.

Murphy also enunciated other initiatives he said he would pursue, including a $15-per-hour minimum wage, tuition-free community college, and funding Planned Parenthood.

“A stronger New Jersey, a fairer New Jersey, a New Jersey that does not just work for a few but for works for all 9 million of us,” he said.

Sate Sen. Bob Smith, left, and state Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, both D-17, at the gala.

Sen. Smith, leading the 17th Legislative District that also includes Franklin native state Assemblyman Joe Danielsen, was blunt in his assessment of the current state administration.

“They’re morons,” he said. “Do you want to be governed by morons?”

“Here’s the solution,” he said. “Win.”

“This is your year, it’s your time,” Smith said.

“We have so much work to do over the next 11 days,” said Zwicker, who is running for his second term. “I am confident that we are going to work hard and I am confident that we are going to show victories and I am confident that Phil Murphy and Sheila Oliver are going to be the next Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Let’s make it work.”

Watson Coleman told the crowd that “it’s good to be a Democrat in this day and age.”

“And it is good to have core values and care about my sisters and brothers who have less,” she said. “We just want equal opportunity access to good jobs and good living opportunities for everybody else.”

Speaking of the Trump Administration in Washington, D.C., Watson Coleman said, “I am a Christian, and I don’t  believe that God brings down bad on us. But I think sometimes he lets things happen to us to provide us opportunities to grow and to learn and to be better. I say that Donald Trump is a blessing for us. He has taken the bandage and ripped it off.”

But, she said, “we deserve better.”

Somerset County Democrats, she said, “have a great slate. Do the work, do the work.”

“This is our year, this is our time,” Robinson told the cheering crowd. “Let’s get it done.”

“It’s time for each and every one of us to get out and vote, and encourage others to get out and vote,” she said. “We’re going to make our vote count, and we’re going to make it very loud.”

Kramer said this Election Day will be “payback time.”

“So when the Republicans try to elect a mayor or council, we’re going to say, it’s payback time,” he said. “When the Republicans try to elect a Freeholder or Clerk, we’re going to say, it’s payback time. When the Republicans try to elect someone to the state Legislature, we’re going to say, it’s payback time. When the Republicans try to elect anyone besides Phil Murphy as the next governor of New Jersey, we’re gonna scream, it’s payback time.”

Somerset County Democratic chair Peg Schaffer said the event’s turnout was record-setting.

“We’ve got the best turnout we’ve ever had, probably by double,” she said.

The reasons for the good turnout are many, she said.

“People are excited, they’re unhappy with what’s coming out of Washington,” she said. “We have 20 races in 20 towns, and we have another six legislative races, and of course we’re excited about Murphy and Oliver, and also a lot of hard work by my committee. We made a lot of phone calls.”


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