Early voting is underway and election day is November 2
I don’t support Republican candidates very often but when I do, it’s because they’re the better choice on Election Day. That’s the case with Don Guardian, a moderate Republican currently running for the General Assembly in New Jersey’s 2nd legislative district. It is one of the most competitive races on this year’s ballot. The district includes Egg Harbor Township, Pleasantville, and Atlantic City where he’s the former mayor.
If you’re a Democrat who’s queasy about voting for a Republican, I feel ya. But hear me out. And check out the following reasons why, in this isolated instance, you might want to reconsider and, just this once, support a Republican instead.
Don Guardian was mayor of Atlantic City from 2014-2017. His predecessor, a Democrat called Lorenzo Langford spent his time as mayor treating Atlantic City like his own personal candy store. One example is the $193,785 settlement he voted to give himself (that he was eventually ordered to pay back). Mr. Langford still owes the city nearly $50,000 from the money he loaned awarded himself when he was still mayor.
Don Guardian’s successor, also a democrat, is heading to prison after “pleading guilty to wire fraud and admitting to taking about $87,000 from a youth sports program.”
When that’s the caliber of Democratic candidate making the cut in Atlantic County, voters have permission to vote for an ethical alternative like Don Guardian whose basic human-level decency was a departure from the selfish impulses of the mayors who came before and after.
There are exactly zero LGBTQ members in New Jersey’s 120-member General Assembly. If Don Guardian breaks that streak, he’d become only the 3rd openly gay lawmaker in NJ history.
Christian Fuscarino runs the Garden State Equality Action Fund. He said to InsiderNJ.com, “We are leading the nation on pro-equality laws, but don’t even have a seat at the table. Our community must rally around queer and trans candidates committed to freedom, justice, and equality for all. We are confident that Guardian will represent our community well in New Jersey’s legislature. But first, we must all champion and elect (him.)”
Generally speaking, the Democratic Party is quite a bit better on gay rights than the GOP. But when it comes to actually electing LGBTQ people to office, New Jersey Democrats have failed to deliver. In fact, the much-vaunted South Jersey Democratic machine propelling Mr. Guardian’s opponents has never once (to my knowledge) anointed an LGBTQ candidate for elected office.
So here we are in 2021, and the most viable path to sending a gay person to Trenton is for Atlantic County democrats to split their ticket and support Don Guardian.
Don Guardian trusts a woman to decide when to start or grow her family.
“I believe in protecting women’s healthcare so that women, their families, and their doctors have the ability to make a choice,” Mr. Guardian told InsiderNJ, echoing his sentiments on the campaign trail.
I would never ask my fellow Democrats, especially women, to support a candidate who felt differently.
Don Guardian v. Christie Christie
There was a time when Chris Christie ruled the world. Elected NJ Governor with a mandate back in 2009, Christie spent the next eight years mostly having his way as Trenton Democrats proved they’d rather genuflect than fight. The Democrats’ inability to overturn a single Chris Christie veto suggests a certain contentedness (especially in South Jersey) with letting Christie set the agenda. The result of their cozy coalition include an NRA-endorsed bear hunt and “pension reform” that gave the mayor of Camden a massive six-figure pension bonus.
When Chris Christie’s seized on Atlantic City’s woes to exert state control over the beleaguered city, Don Guardian fought Christie like a mongoose to preserve some degree of municipal autonomy for Atlantic City. This, when Christie was still at the height of his considerable powers.
Atlantic City was in dire straits long before Don Guardian ran for mayor and there’s plenty of blame to go around for all that. But it definitely wasn’t Guardian’s fault. If anything, Don Guardian triaged and stabilized a city in economic free fall, a feat he managed without the ethical lapses of his predecessor and successor.
Assembly Democrats have an overwhelming majority in Trenton where the roster currently includes 52 democrats and 28 Republicans. So Democrats voting for Don needn’t worry about their sizable majority which remains lopsided regardless of who wins Don’s race.
With their majority firmly entrenched, the Democrats can get back to passing legislation like gay marriage, marijuana legalization, and the reproductive freedom act. Just kidding. The Democratic majority repeatedly failed to pass all those things which kinda begs the questions; what has that lopsided democratic majority in Trenton done for you lately?
Seventeen Atlantic County towns comprise the 2nd legislative district including Egg Harbor Township, Pleasantville, and Atlantic City. The district also includes Absecon, Brigantine, Buena Borough, Buena Vista Township, Egg Harbor City, Folsom Borough, Hamilton Township, Linwood, Longport Borough, Margate City, Mullica Township, Northfield, Somers Point City and Ventnor City.
This article was originally published by InsiderNJ.com here.