Dems See Election Opportunity in GOP-Heavy Parsippany
County Democratic chairman rouses the local party faithful.
Gone was the dispirited group resigned to accepting a position allowing them little to no voice in their town's affairs, one bruised after experiencing failure in election after election against a Republican Party that revels in almost complete control over municipal government.
Nominating Jonathan Nelson as its candidate for the special Town Council election to be held in November, local Democrats showed a rare enthusiasm—and growing confidence.
That ebullience was reflected in an address Morris County Democratic Committee Chairman Lewis Candura made at the gathering.
"Morris County is changing," Candura said. "Eight years ago, there was a ratio of 2.1 Republicans for every Democrat. But there is now a 1.5 to 1 ratio of Republicans to Democrats.
"That all comes from you working hard to try to get the message out that we're not the enemy, just other citizens with different points of view."
Candura said some of the shift can be attributed to a new mentality in the GOP.
"The Tea Party is pushing out moderate, mainstream Republicans, [making that party] much more radical," he said. "Now they have this 'mountain man' theory that we should have no government or taxes. It's ludicrous. We need services.
"For these people to cut services and the safety net for the handicapped, for the mentally challenged...," he trailed off. "Look what happened in the GOP debates."
Candura referred to the September 2011 Republican presidential debate in which former candidate Ron Paul was asked what should be done for a citizen without health insurance who is poor but ill. Audience members that night shouted at a visibly flustered Paul, "Let him die."
"Is that where we're going?" he asked.
"We have to express our opinions and work to get Jonathan Nelson elected to give us a voice and a seat at the table."
County Democratic Party Executive Director Chip Robinson spoke next, echoing the sentiment that fortunes are improving for the party.
"This town is changing," he asserted, pointing to a growing number of Democrats, non-party-line Republicans and unaffiliated voters who hold increasingly diverse viewpoints. "Parsippany is not the Republican town it used to be. There are people receptive to our ideas if we find them."
John Arvanites, 11th District Democratic candidate, was the next to speak.
"We have a five-point registration spread, thanks to redistricting," he said. "We have the ability to defeat [u.s. Rep.] Rodney Frelinghuysen with these numbers, with Democrats and unaffiliated [voters].
"Parsippany can can be the town that breaks his back."
Arvanites took a moment to thank former Democratic congressional candidate Tom Wyka for paving the way for him. Then, he focused his attention on the U.S. Congress.
"Congress is 56 percent Republican," he said, "fifty-six percent that attacks every move we make to build our businesses, educate our children, obtain quality health care and guarantee equality to all. They're well-funded and well-organized. We want to build an organization in the district that can match them."
The candidate said his campaign is focused on his race and on building the entire party.
"We can win this race and we will win this race from the top down to the local races, from President Obama, to [congressional and state legislative races] and to Jonathan Nelson," he insisted, earning applause from the audience in the crowded meeting room. "If we can get all the Democrats and some of the [disaffected] Republicans and unaffiliated, we can win."
To that end, local Democratic Party Chair Michael Soriano announced that plans are in the works to form a Parsippany Democratic Club to encourage more local party members to stand against the status quo and become active in politics.