Opinion: New Jersey is perfect for the 1st Democratic primary

In April, the Democratic National Committee announced that it was abandoning the decades-old tradition that saw four states – Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina – conduct the quadrennial ballot to choose the presidential nominee of the left.

The search for states that could replace these four has spurred a reality show-style contest for the top prize. The DNC’s stated goal is to hold these snap elections in states that better reflect America’s ethnic diversity. And he wants to hold these contests in states that hold primaries.

This is bad news for Iowa, which is one of the least diverse states with a population more than 90% white and which kicks off its presidential election season every four years by holding caucuses rather than primaries.
On Saturday, a DNC official told CNN the list was narrowed to 16 states plus Puerto Rico to be chosen as one of the top five primaries after New York and Nebraska were dropped from consideration. The remaining contenders are a diverse group, with states as varied as Washington, Texas and Maryland.

But there is one state still in contention that is a no-brainer for the nation’s first primary: New Jersey. (Stop laughing.)

My home state is the perfect place for a variety of reasons. First, do you want to see if a candidate has enough skin to withstand a presidential election? Jersey is the state where the phrase “What are you looking at?” is considered a warm welcome. And wouldn’t you love to see how candidates react to homeowners in New Jersey yelling at them, “Get off my lawn”? Not that people aren’t friendly in Jersey, but use the sidewalk and don’t walk on our lawns.

A “Jersey First” primary would also mean saying goodbye to rallies in Iowa’s cornfields and saying hello to campaign stops at Jon Bon Jovi’s beautiful rest area off the Garden State Parkway. (Yes, it’s true. It was renamed in late 2021.)
It would also give contestants the chance to hold events at locations made famous by TV shows and movies, including landmarks from “The Sopranos,” including the club that was Bada Bing in North Jersey.
What would our nation be without the dozens of remarkable people born in the Garden State? Among them, Frank Sinatra, Meryl Streep, Shaquille O’Neal, Bruce Springsteen, Queen Latifah, Danny DeVito, Jack Nicholson, Ice-T, Joe Pesci – the list goes on. You’re welcome. Now give us the primary.
Not only is New Jersey diverse, says Dean Obeidallah, but it's also Bruce Springsteen's home state.
More seriously, the state matches one of the DNC’s key goals: to ensure that early primary states look like the United States. New Jersey’s population of nearly 9.3 million people truly reflects the diversity of our country.
The 2020 Census found nationwide that whites make up about 61.6% of the population, blacks 12.4%, Hispanics 18.7%, and Asian Americans 6%. To look at Jersey Census 2020 figures — White 55%, Black 13.1%, Hispanic 21.6% and Asian American 10%. These numbers are reflective of America, which means they will require candidates to address the concerns of various communities.

Additionally, Jersey is made up of a variety of locations, from the agricultural countryside in the south, to major cities such as Newark and Jersey City in the north, to the suburbs of New York and Philadelphia. Applicants will need to address a wide range of issues.

And given Jersey’s famous beaches, these presidential hopefuls will be forced to talk about the impact of climate change after recent hurricanes caused severe beach erosion.
New Jersey’s economic diversity would also give applicants a chance to meet the needs of a cross-section of businesses ranging from mom-and-pop stores to large industrial companies to large retailers found in the malls that dot the state. A large number of Fortune 500 companieslike Johnson & Johnson and Prudential Financial, also call New Jersey home.
For candidates to garner the support of Jersey voters, they would have to navigate not just national issues, but the locals, the residents as well. These would include what must be called the state’s response to Canadian bacon: Taylor ham or pork roll?

If the candidate is in North Jersey, it is better to say “Taylor ham” or expect, all of a sudden, to lose enough voters to fill a mall. And they will also have to bend to the Jerseyites: I bet more than one candidate would propose to put Springsteen in their administration.

I hate to be negative, but a quick look at some of the other East Coast states still in competition, like Delaware, lets me know that Jersey has little to worry about. Sure, there are some nice people there, and it’s President Joe Biden’s home state. But somehow, Delaware just isn’t a place you’d hold a presidential primary. It’s more of a place you’re bound to pull over if you get a flat tire on the way to New Jersey.

Another big selling point for New Jersey is media access. Presidential candidates will be able to travel to television studios in neighboring New York – perhaps the largest media market in the world – and this will allow them to easily get their message across to the whole nation. And there’s no media in the country fiercer than in New York, ensuring every candidate’s scrutiny and vetting process that will ensure the Democratic Party ends up with the strongest candidate in the general election.

The panel overseeing the process is expected to make its recommendations to the full DNC by the end of the summer. Let me make it easy for the DNC: Choose New Jersey, and no one gets hurt. (OK, I’m kidding about the injured part.) But if the DNC really thinks another state is better than Jersey, all I can say is “Fuhgeddaboutit.”

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