One election night victory in one New Jersey congressional district does not represent a major shift in American politics. But shifts do occur, and they must start somewhere.
On the night of June 5, 2012, this was the news the Star-Ledger reported from the Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ...
"In an upset, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell has defeated fellow incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman in the Democratic primary for the 9th Congressional District."
What makes the news from Passaic County so surprising was that Pascrell's election to a House seat from New Jersey's new 9th district was not supposed to happen.
How could it, two years after the news broke that Bill Pascrell was one of 54 House members who signed a 2010 letter to President Obama urging him "to use diplomatic pressure to resolve the blockade affecting Gaza." The letter reads, in part:
"The unabated suffering of Gazan civilians highlights the urgency of reaching a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we ask you to press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza as an urgent component of your broader Middle East peace efforts. . .The current blockade has severely impeded the ability of aid agencies to do their work to relieve suffering."
Signing that letter was a risky political move for Pascrell. It was certain to stir pro-Israel forces, led by AIPAC, the powerful fund-dispersing and rhetorical master source of invective against any member of the US Congress who dares raise a voice on behalf of "the citizens of Gaza."
And stir them it did. The Israel Lobby left Pascrell alone in the 2010 election cycle because he had no serious opposition in either the primary or general election. Wolf packs don't attack strong members of a deer herd. The pack waits for the opportunity to bring down victims perceived to be vulnerable.
Following the 2010 census, New Jersey's population decline led to the loss of one congressional district, dropping the state from 13 to 12 districts. By law the House is allowed 435 districts, divided according to population, among the 50 states.
After new district lines were drawn, the new 9th CD New Jersey voters were forced to choose between two incumbents, Steve Rothman, the member from the 9th CD, who had held that seat since 1996, and Pascrell, who had served the 8th CD for the same number of terms.
In December,2011, Rothman's hometown of Fair Lawn was moved into the Republican-leaning district of U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5th Dist.).
Instead of running against an incumbent Republican, Rothman moved his residence to Englewood -- the city he once served as mayor. He preferred to run against Pascrell in the new 9th District. Pascrell was at a disadvantage. The majority of voters in his new district had previously voted in Rothman's old district.
In a surprise development, even to many of his supporters, Bill Pascrell, (pictured above) raised his arm in victory to celebrate his 61%-39% victory in the new 9th district, defeating Rothman by a strong margin of 30,227 to 19,228 votes.
How did this happen? It really is a simple story.
When two sitting members of Congress are forced to run against one another, AIPAC decides which one is best for Israel.
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