Dawn Marie Addiego has always been a cosseted politician. Depending on others to lay out a path for her. To brush the impediments from her way.
Hence, from her earliest days she was attracted to establishment politicians and powerful political machines. The old Burlco GOP machine of Glenn Paulsen worked for her – and in return for her exact fealty and obedience she rose through its ranks. Now, with the patrimony of Paulsen squandered by others, the Senator set adrift, she has looked for and found a new powerful political machine to protect her.
Engaging, charming, tough – but pleasant – her insecurities have led her to changing one party for another. Of course, her attempt to define her switch as maintaining some core affinity for the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan is total nonsense. As Senator Addiego well knows, she has never been comfortable with the Republican electorate and the political platform of the national Republican Party… not since Ronald Reagan changed it in 1980. In this, she has remained in lockstep with the establishment GOP in Burlington County.
Lacking a Republican message – unable to embrace, motivate, and lead Republicans and those who are open to voting for Republicans – Senator Addiego reasoned that she had no choice but to become a Democrat. Now she should look to the fate of Arlen Specter and know that she may be called to account, like Specter was, by the “purer” elements within her new party. Her hope must be that powerful men will protect her. Her faith… must look to her new bosses.
Some weeks ago, we explained how both major parties are really each three separate parties all occupying the same space and seeking to speak for the same “brand”.
(1) There is the broad “party” defined by formal “membership” (voter registration, etc.), self-identification, or electoral support. These people have some idea of what the party brand means and they like candidates to adhere to it. They like to get what they think they are voting for.
(2) Next is the activist base. These people are motivated by a particular issue or set of issues (or by a candidate who serves as the vessel for such). Some organize themselves to great effectiveness. Many are organized permanently and have established themselves as genuine powers. Others can be motivated in the right season, on a case by case basis. The most successful are able to create enough activity to earn a living from their activism (essentially, they are paid for their leadership).
(3) Finally we have the “professional” party – the regulars. Broadly speaking, they are paid or make money from politics, whether as attorneys, vendors, lobbyists, elected officials, appointed officials, patronage employees, political consultants, legislative staff, and such. They are transactional and make money through or directly from politics – that is the big difference between them and the broader party.
The story of Dawn Marie Addiego wouldn’t be complete without an exposition of the role played by this “professional” party – and its corruption.
Leave it to David “Wally Edge” Wildstein to annotate the role played by lobbyist Jeff Michaels… once a captain in the regime of Republican Senate President Donnie DiFrancesco, now part of the far-flung empire of Democrat Party boss George Norcross. According to Wildstein, editor at the New Jersey Globe, Michaels played a key role in negotiating Addiego’s party switch.
Those of us who remember the young Jeff Michaels – then a stalwart Republican, YAFer, and religious conservative – will sadly recall when he left being a legislative staffer for a lobbying gig that led him down the path of… money. We lost a great compatriot and mammon gained a very effective advocate. Of course, such is the world.
We wonder what will become of District 8 Chief of Staff Rick England, a lieutenant in the DiFrancesco operation, who once answered to Michaels. Will he follow his Senator? Rick ran the District 8 office and controlled it very closely. He knows the sins of all he served which, given the circumstances, could be of benefit to the Assembly Democrats this year… or SRM in 2021. So in thrall was Senator Addiego to her handler that she refused to meet with a bi-partisan delegation of religious leaders regarding the Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act, simply because Rick would not sign off on it. Such is the power he held at the District 8 Legislative Office.
So we can see how the concerns of each of these three separate parties all occupying the same space and seeking to speak for the same “brand” can be very different. While the first two want candidates who will represent some set of principles, the concerns of the “professional” party can often come down to… dough-re-me.
At the “professional” party level, this can lead to a certain “blending” of the two major parties. And that, of course, leads to an estrangement from the base.