Good news for those who remember when the Democratic Party championed causes other than those of George Norcross, his doppelganger Chris Christie, and his poodle, Steve Sweeney, the anti-union union guy. Bonnie Watson Coleman won the Democratic primary for the 12th Congressional district.
Other commentators have made a point of saying she will–if we’re lucky–become the first African-American woman to represent New Jersey and the first woman since the newly crazy Republicans forced out the sane psychologist Marge Roukema in 2003 to give us, yikes, Scott Garrett, who needs one.
This is what Watson-Coleman definitely is: She is the only candidate for Congress who, on March 27, got up in front of a crowd of hundreds of demonstrators and declared her support for free public education–free as in provided by the government and free as in free of the clutches of billionaire hedge-fund managers who made Cory Booker what he is today and hope some day to replace public schools with market-driven charters.
Watson-Coleman didn’t have to be there. Her legislative district doesn’t come near Newark. She was running in a campaign in which no Newark resident could vote for her–she was there because she believed in public education.
My notes for that day would take my son the archaeologist a field season to find on my desk–but I do remember she said, “I support you” to men and women who were holding up placards denouncing Gov. Chris Christie and Cami Anderson, the flaky woman who, when she is town and not schmoozing with her neighbors in Glen Ridge, pretends to run the Newark public schools for the state.
By appearing before the March 27 crowd, Watson-Coleman both proved her credentials as a true Democrat–rare nowadays as a two-dollar bill–and cut herself off from the millions in campaign donations that could be arranged by Charlie Ledley and the Education Reform Now crowd that tried to buy the Newark mayor’s office for Shavar Jeffries for a measly $4 million.
Watson-Coleman will need all the help she can get in a district that was once reliably red but, because of incumbent Rush Holt and some gerrymandering, is now purple to blue. Let’s make sure she never has to turn to the money-changers in the Temple of Privatized Education. Small donations to her campaign will overcome the big bucks–and, more important, her election campaign could turn into yet another front in the war against the privatizers.
First, Ras Baraka–now Bonnie Watson-Coleman.
Some of my friends wonder why I spend so much time on Democratic politics. They argue the Democrats are as morally bankrupt as the Republicans. Well, you know, life is just plain shot through with ambiguities. I agree leading Democrats–Norcross, Joey D, Brian Stack, Steve Sweeney–are ethically and morally challenged and I would no more vote for one of them than I would vote for a Republican like Cory Booker.
But we take our victories where we can find them. Right now, Watson-Coleman’s victory is good news for a change. If she wins in November against the sonorously named Republican candidate Alieta Eck, it will be even greater news, a big victory for those of us who actually believe public schools are worth saving from the auction block.
Getting rid of corrupt and certifiably nuts Republicans starts with eliminating their Democratic enablers and fellow-travelers. Watson-Coleman’s campaign is part of that larger fight.