Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tales of the Plainfield Democrats

In Plainfield, Democrats now outnumber Republicans by about 15 to 1, but they're not always one big happy family.

After being assigned to the Plainfield news beat around 30 years ago, I realized there were three rivals among the Democrats: Jerry Green, Harold Mitchell and Rick Taylor. All held public office. Mitchell and Taylor served terms as mayor and as members of the City Council.. Assemblyman Jerry Green could not be mayor, due to a prohibition on dual office holding in the city's special charter, but as the longtime Democratic Party chairman, he had considerable say in political outcomes.

The Regular Democratic Organization of Union County locally once had 84 City Committee members, a male and female in each district in the city's four wards. Lack of voter turnout resulted in a reduction of voting districts, so currently there are 68 committee seats. In the 1980s, I used to annotate the committee member lists to show the political alignments and the occasional shifts. The rivalries could be intense. I recall Mayor Taylor giving a State of the City address in which he invited Councilman Mitchell to walk the plank off the Good Ship Plainfield.

More recently, the power struggle has been between Green and Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, a former councilman and leader of the New Democrats. Mapp retained his leadership even as he served as a Union County freeholder, although winning the seat made him a member of the RDO. In 2015, Mapp's New Democrats captured enough seats on the City Committee to unseat Green as chairman of the Plainfield Democratic City Committee, though Green is still in charge of the RDO County Committee.

The irony of challenging the RDO is that by winning in the June primary, a New Democrat or other independent candidate then goes on the November ballot on the RDO party line. It's confusing,  though not as much as the electoral college system.

Perhaps even worse than having one's true political identity clouded by winning the party line, occasionally a faithful RDO member is simply cast out, denied the party line in the primary or the chance for a seat on the city committee. That's when the spurned one defiantly runs anyway ...as a "Real Democrat."

Nonetheless, as November approaches, city Democrats of all stripes will no doubt band together to support the party line in this most important election.



  1. Hi Bernice,

    The New Dems no longer exist. That organization is now goes under the Plainfield Democratic Organization. I hope we will all come together to defeat Donald Trump, whom I believe is too much like Putin to be in such a high office.

    Thank you,

    Bob Bolmer
    Plainfield Democratic City Committee member, Ward 2, District 1

  2. Maybe after the return of the green team next for committee majority. You will return to the name new dems.

    1. Green is past and will stay in the past. He has to to his dirty work on the DL as the county mayors told him, not asked him, to stay out of Plainfield politics. We are much better without Mr. Green and his ilk moving Plainfield backwards instead of forward.

    2. The county mayors don't control nor dictate to green.

  3. Yes, the Democratic Party has mad Plainfield everything it has become in the last 25 years [said as people move out of town]