8th District congressional candidate Rob Menendez is lauding his influx of support from labor groups as the congressional primary is underway with five Democrats vying for what will be a vacant seat.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“I’m honored to have their support and the way we went about it was to prioritize organized labor from the beginning: I think organized labor plays an important part of the Democratic party,” Menendez said in a phone interview this morning.
“For me, it was just laying out a clear vision of our economy, our workers in the past two years … unions play an important role for safer working conditions and better wages. We’ve been sitting down with them and earning their trust by showing that our visions are aligned.”
In recent weeks Menendez, an attorney, Port Authority commissioner, and the son of U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), has secured the backing of AFSCME New Jersey Council 63, IBEW Local 164, the Communication Workers of America, and the Hudson County Central Labor Council, among many others.
Despite a clear advantage in that realm of the race, four other Democrats were certified for the June 7th ballot yesterday: Rutgers law professor Eugene Mazo, Weehawken teacher Ane Roseborough-Eberhard, progressive David Ocampo Grajales, and North Bergen business owner Brian Varela.
While Menendez is the clear front runner, with the backing of the Democratic organizations in Hudson, Union, and Essex Counties, he acknowledged that some voters occasionally show disdain for “machine” candidates.
“The way to engage in that conversation is to just engage on the issues: this campaign has been about strengthening families, empowering workers – that’s a signal you can send to show this is a pro-working class campaign,” he added.
Menendez also said he has taken a pro-union stance from a young age, noting that his one grandmother was a teacher and his one grandfather (both on his maternal side) worked American CanCo and his family could see the difference of the quality of life in their golden years due to the benefits that come along with being part of a labor group.
Conversely, his paternal grandparents were not part of a union and therefore did not enjoy the same fruits of their labor in retirement and beyond.
Meanwhile, his opponents are approaching this campaign from different avenues, according to their respective campaign websites.
Varela is in favor of universal healthcare, universal healthcare, reducing student loans, and ranked-choice voting – which New York City has.
Roseborough-Eberhard is pushing for recreation centers in more municipalities, fighting climate change, and introducing a U.S. Secretary of Culture to oversee music, film, fashion, and the visual arts.
Additionally, Ocampo Grajales is advocating for a Second Bill of Rights “to prevent the federal government from encroaching on individual liberties,” Medicare and Housing for All, as well as free college, cancelling student loans, and the Green New Deal.
Mazo did not have a campaign website available as of this writing.
The June 7th primary is all but certain to determine who will succeed U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, given that the 8th District is one of the bluest in the country.