Winning off the line in NJ can sometimes seem impossible. But it can be done. And it has been done, by progressive candidates determined to not cede control of the state to party machines.
For instance, the story of GGCNJ board member, Laura Zurfluh, who ran for Democratic County Committee in Cranbury (Middlesex) in 2017:
Q: What was the hardest part?
A: I was running in column F, 5 empty columns between me and the Party Line in column A, and there was no one else in my column
Q: What did you do about it?
A: I campaigned door to door, talked to my neighbors, wrote a letter explaining what the position was and why I wanted to fill it.
Q: And what happened?
A: I tied with my opponent! We each had 63 votes. So the municipal committee chair (whose wife I was running against) decided to toss a coin. I won! This year , I ran again and the same opponent ran again, and this time I won with a clear majority (even though she was given The Line).
Q: And once you were elected?
A: I found out that things were worse than I thought! There were no by-laws, no-one knew what the committee was responsible for. The chair, who was also the mayor, had the committee meet yearly (by statute), and chose new candidates and who to endorse by himself, with no input. And, of course, he positioned his own name in prime location when up for reelection for the township committee.
The reorganization meeting consisted of us electing the chair, vice-chair and secretary and then ending the meeting. When I asked when the next meeting was everyone looked blankly at me and said “we don’t meet again until next year unless Glenn tells us to”.
Then, my township chair said sexist things in public and caused an uproar. The town was completely divided…
But we are still working hard! In 2019, three more progressives won seats on county committee, and now are a majority in the township. The committee chair/mayor holds neither position anymore! But there’s a long road ahead. Middlesex is no walk in the park.