Election Day on November 5th was a success for Local 1036 in many ways including important defense of State Senate and Assembly legislative candidates, wins for some County and local government seats, and a record-breaking GOTV turnout from Local 1036 members.
Governor Christie was re-elected to a second term, but the results show his personal popularity did not affect other races and NJ voters reject his policies. Local 1036 membership stepped up to fight the good fight despite long odds. Although Governor Christie was re-elected by a sizable margin and the media will continue to cover that angle of the story, there are some important takeaways.
First, his coattails did not have a huge effect on state or local legislative races. Most incumbents won their seats easily. In the handful of targeted races, most incumbents won tough races and the few losses were due to very locally specific circumstances – not due to Christie’s popularity. For the most part, we continued to win in other state and local races.
Second, NJ voters approved raising the minimum wage 61% to 39% which was an issue Christie had vetoed and argued against. So, voters approved the minimum wage question by a larger margin than Christie’s vote totals – on an issue he vetoed.
We successfully defended most of our State Senate and Assembly allies around the State, with Democrats retaining a majority in the Legislature. Of special note to Local 1036 members, we helped return Linda Greenstein and Robert Gordon to the Senate and Wayne DeAngelo, Dan Benson, Herb Conaway, Troy Singleton and others to the Assembly. All of these champions directly fought the Christie administration over attacks on civil service and collective bargaining rights. They are returning to the State House at a crucial time when pension funding, budget challenges, and the sunset of ch.78’s health care law are on the horizon.
Ballot Question #2 – Raising the Minimum Wage passed overwhelmingly. Although most Local 1036 members are fortunate enough to have collective bargaining agreements and earn more than the minimum wage, the fact is that thousands of New Jerseyans work two or more full-time jobs at minimum wage. Our collective actions yesterday to pass this ballot question will literally put more dollars in working families’ pockets and more dollars into the economy. We did the right thing.
In Burlington County, the incumbent Freeholder, Sheriff, and Clerk were all re-elected. Again, it was a tough campaign that saw an onslaught of negative TV commercials, mailers, and other materials. It was a very difficult fight, but every year is a building block to the next. Local 1036 had a record turnout on Election Day, getting more members involved in voter education and turnout than any previous year. I am proud to report that Local 1036 had over 250 volunteers doing phone banks, canvassing, and voter outreach around the state, most of it in Burlington County.
Simply put, this is phenomenal.
And the good news is that there is an important election in Burlington County every year – with news coming today about our Congressional seat that will have an overlap with County races as well.
In Hunterdon County, two new Freeholders were elected and we hope the new Freeholder Board will be open to partnering with our membership. We know major changes in the administration are in process due to retirements and Freeholder changes, and we will continue to make progress during fact finding to resolve our contracts.
In Mercer County, our endorsed Freeholders were re-elected overwhelmingly. Both will continue the track record of the Mercer County Freeholder Board of working with organized labor in both the public and private sector.
I’m very proud of the work by Local 1036 members state-wide. We had about 50 first-time volunteers this season – folks who did their first door-knock or their first phone bank – and chose this year to get involved. We appreciate everyone’s hard work, especially the “seasoned veterans” who did literally every Saturday walk, every phone bank, and double-shifts on Election Day. You all are fantastic.
Keep up the good work and let’s stay strong for the challenges ahead. We will continue to build for next year not only for elections but for all the legislative or bargaining campaigns that will arise.