Scott Salmon Forced Out of Assembly Race
On March 8, 2021, Scott Salmon, candidate for LD 21 Assembly, removed his name from the primary race for the Democratic nomination. Salmon stated: “Running without the endorsement of the Union County Democratic Committee would mean a contested primary, and I believe instead that our resources would be better spent on the general election.”
Salmon was referring to the vote of the ten members of the 21 municipal chairs representing Union County Democrats who showed up for the rapidly called endorsement vote. The vote to endorse Salmon was 5 to 5 of the 21 Union County Municipal Chairs of the Union County Democratic Committee (UCDC), who showed up. Nick Scutari, State Senator, LD 22, the Chair of the UCDC broke that tie with his selection of another candidate for endorsement. What kind of a system decides primary winners by one vote? A vote from someone who does not even reside in the district Salmon aspired to represent.
Why should good people feel the need to remove their names from a race because one person did not vote for them. Salmon further stated in his announcement: “It would be the understatement of the century to say that I am frustrated and disappointed. This is a campaign that I have dreamed of running for many years. I do believe that I would have made a good candidate and, more importantly, a good representative, but it seems that now is not my time.”
Why isn’t it Salmon’s time, or any other Democrat who wants to run and be selected by the registered Democrats to represent the party in the November election? What is wrong with a contested primary? Contests are what democracy is all about. Democracy is not about what one political “leader” decides. Democracy is about who the people decide. The voters need to have the opportunity to select their candidates, not the often-used term “Party Bosses.”
The issue of whether Salmon would have been a “good candidate” or a “good representative,” was not decided by the voters. It was decided by one vote from one so called “boss.” This system is simply not democratic.
The supporters of this process say it serves as a screening for the best candidates to run against the Republicans in the general election. The question is a screening by whom? What is the test a potential candidate must pass to be selected? Did Nick Scutari put out a press release explaining his decision? Did he explain what he will be looking for in a candidate for the future?
Imagine if we selected our Democratic Presidential candidates with the same process used in Union County and much of New Jersey. A small group of “leaders” would get together and select the “Regular Democratic Organization” candidate. That candidate would receive the financial, media and manpower support of the national Democratic Party. Most of all they would receive their own special ballot position which would virtually assure that no other primary candidate could be selected.
Most Democrats were pleased with the primary process at the national level in 2020. They conducted a contested primary election process, they listened to the candidates, they went to the poles and voted for their choice. They allowed the people to select Joe Biden not a small group of “leaders.” The result was a united Democratic Party who saw their candidate win more votes than any Presidential candidate in history.
Why are the political leaders of New Jersey afraid of the democratic process to select candidates? It’s time for the voters to determine if it is a candidate’s “time” to be on the ballot in November, not the “bosses.”