Open Primaries and Vanishing Running Mates: the LD37 Mess Continues – Insider NJ

Valerie Huttle says she wants an “open primary” in the LD37 Senate race.

After all, she said in a statement, “The cure for what troubles the Bergen County Democratic Party is more democracy, not less.”

A cynic may suggest that Huttle wants an open primary simply because she’s not being endorsed by the Bergen County Democratic Committee. The committee endorsed Gordon Johnson. But why be cynical about politics?

Interestingly, just to the west of Bergen in Morris County, Republicans just did away with a long tradition of open primaries.

Like Huttle, supporters of keeping the status quo in Morris said they wanted to preserve genuine democracy.

The overview here is that the contest between Huttle and Johnson – both are now Assembly members – is one of the state’s marquee primary races. The winner in this very Democratic district is just about assured of replacing Loretta Weinberg in the upper house.

Huttle said the way Bergen Dems handle primary endorsements is a “closed process” that “has already caused considerable division and animosity.”  She says an open primary would drive the race to ideas and visions as opposed to “petty politics.”

Generally speaking, open primaries are more democratic – with a small “d.” But the political reality is that party leaders enjoy the relative power and influence that they have. Morris Republicans were the last consequential holdout. With that change, all major political organizations in the state endorse primary candidates and give them preferential ballot position.

So, you can expect Huttle’s suggestion to go nowhere, although it does burnish her liberal credentials. Keep in mind that earlier this year, a number of progressive groups challenged the “party line” way of doing things in federal court.

As for Johnson, he has problems of his own – vanishing Assembly ticketmates.

Three days ago, running with Johnson were Assembly candidates  Alexandra Soriano-Taveras of Teaneck and Christopher Chung, the mayor of Palisades Park. Both have now left the race for different reasons.

A source in the Johnson camp said today that their replacements likely will be selected by the county committee and that Johnson is largely staying out of the process.

Meanwhile, Huttle and her ticketmates – Gervonn Romney Rice of Teaneck and Lauren Dayton of Tenafly – have a formal campaign kickoff set for Sunday.

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