John Flora, a Jersey City teacher and a congressional candidate in the 10th district, is fighting off accusations of sexism after posting a Hudson County Democratic Organization protest flyer that depicts County Executive Tom DeGise as controlling the chair of the party – his daughter Amy DeGise.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Tom DeGise was mentioned more by the Hudson County [Democratic] Committee people than Amy. People would not talk about abolishing the line without consulting ‘with Tom’ first,” the flyer, promoting a Saturday rally outside HCDO headquarters calling for the elimination of party lines, says.
The post, which appeared on Flora’s Instagram page, questions why committee people have no say in county endorsements, even after Amy DeGise won a hotly contested battle for HCDO chair against state Senator (D-33)/Union City Mayor Brian Stack in June 2018.
Speaking with HCV, Amy DeGise said she resented the graphic, particularly since Flora has not taken aim at the Dem party chair in Essex County, LeRoy Jones, despite the fact that around 80 percent of the votes in the 10th congressional district are outside of Hudson.
“It’s another example of the unnecessary in-fighting that is damaging our party. I’ve never attacked John Flora’s campaign. Over 80% of his votes will come from outside of Hudson County, yet he only attacked me and not my male counterpart in Essex County,” she said.
“Labelling me as a puppet is parallel to the idea that women can’t handle leadership and will just do what they’re told to do. I resent that sentiment, I work hard to combat that idea as he is not the first person to question my abilities. The antiquated, traditional gender role claims women can’t hack it as leaders and that we’re not tough enough to be decisive.”
Flora campaign manager Jill Pitman responded that infighting has occurred as the result of Amy DeGise refusing to meet with anyone from the Flora team, also noting that the rally was organized in response to HCDO members speaking out against an open presidential primary.
” I am sure Ms. Degise had an opportunity to see this so her reaction to our activism is disingenuous at best. The puppet meme did not refer to her gender or ability to lead due to her gender,” Pittman said.
” … To say we were conveying a message that is gender biases is ludicrous. John Flora is a proponent of women’s rights and equality. In fact if he felt women were not able to lead, why would he hire a female campaign manager?”
Pittman also said the image simply reflected what committee members told them: that they would need to “talk to Tom” before entertaining any conversations about an endorsement to run on the HCDO line.
The HCDO backed all of their federal representatives, including Payne, when they announced their endorsements for the June primary last month.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from the Flora campaign.