It was 20 years - and 18 points ago

DENVER - Everyone has a favorite Democratic National Convention, and for former State Democratic Party Chairman Ray Durkin and party executive director Emma Byrne, the year was 1988, when Democrats left Atlanta, Georgia with a 17-18 point lead in the polls and fully confident they would buck the GOP.

"The high we got from the convention was huge, and everyone was absolutely convinced we couldn’t lose," recalled Byrne.

"That would change, of course," said Durkin. "That was before we learned that Mike Dukakis was a nice man. He was afraid to attack, and he took a beating."

The year was important for Durkin, the Vailsburg, Newark product who lived in the same neighborhood as other Irish-American party bulwarks: the late John Cryan (father of state chairman, Joe) and Assemblyman (And former State Party Chair) Tom Giblin (D-Montclair).

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Today's convention schedule

The Democratic National Convention will be called to order at 5:00 PM EST today, with a theme of "One Nation."  Featured speakers include Michelle Obama, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), former President Jimmy Carter, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, who will introduce a tribute to her uncle, U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA).

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Primary hurt still lingers in Obamaland

State Party Chairman Joseph Cryan operates at the Inverness.: Politicker photoState Party Chairman Joseph Cryan operates at the Inverness.: Politicker photo

DENVER - It was one of those unlikely big event introductions: the governor of New Jersey revving up the crowd before he rolled out U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-Fair Lawn).

Usually it’s one of the members of the congressional delegation warming up an audience for the governor, but this occasion was different, as onetime Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) stalwart Gov. Jon Corzine yielded to Rothman, a Northeast Regional co-chair of the Obama campaign.

Co-hosting a party with Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park) at the Inverness Hotel on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, Rothman hit the two big power chords the Obama campaign hoped to sound with its pick this weekend of Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) as Obama’s vice presidential running mate.

"Joe Biden is going to be great at reaching out to working class voters, plus he has foreign policy experience," said the congressman, the only member of the New Jersey delegation to have endorsed Obama from the beginning.

There were scattered hand claps - and a little spark of happiness for Biden.

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Should the 'Dynamic Duo' swap outfits?

To view more cartoons by editorial cartoonist Rob Tornoe, click here.

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Grassroots Obama organizers make Denver debut

NJ for Obama organizers, from left: Peter Brown, Julie Diaz, and Keith Hovey.: Politicker photoNJ for Obama organizers, from left: Peter Brown, Julie Diaz, and Keith Hovey.: Politicker photo 

DENVER - They were a scrappy, grassroots group of no-name organizers when Peter Brown and Julie Diaz sat in a diner bull-dozed up to the side of a Jersey highway months ago.

But anti-establishment candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Il) victory in the Democratic presidential Primary propelled them, and NJ for Obama director Keith Hovey, into the laps of New Jersey’s political establishment tonight as the three of them attended a dinner at the Inverness Hotel hosted by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-Fair Lawn).

"I’m just happy to be here, I don’t care if I have to sit behind Guam," said Hovey.

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New Jersey leans on Obama for Menendez speaking role

New Jersey leans on Obama for Menendez speaking role

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) at Sunday night's dinner at the Inverness Hotel.: Politicker PhotoU.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) at Sunday night's dinner at the Inverness Hotel.: Politicker Photo

DENVER - Members of the New Jersey delegation are button-holing hard the Obama campaign to get U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-Union City) a speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention this week.

"You don’t understand how important this guy is," a source told "When Menendez won his Senate seat, it was a full banner, front page headline in Florida."

As he entered the Inverness Hotel tonight on his way in to a kickoff dinner hosted by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park) and U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman (D-Fair Lawn), Menendez fielded a question about whether or not he would speak at the convention.

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Booker charges into Denver

Newark Mayor Cory Booker at the Denver Art Museum on Sunday afternoon.: Politicker photoNewark Mayor Cory Booker at the Denver Art Museum on Sunday afternoon.: Politicker photo

DENVER - Newark Mayor Cory Booker strode up the walkway outside the Bilbao-fangled Denver Art Museum with the state capitol agleam over his shoulder, and the Rocky Mountains behind that rising over the old cross-section of Broadway and Colfax avenues.

"Love Denver," he said on his second day in the city. "Been here many times."

"That’s Cory Booker, mayor of Newark," cried a Denverite, who later said he was originally from Paterson. "Great mayor! Up and comer!"

Moments later, Booker was at a microphone, speaking to a gaggle of press in advance of a forum on education sponsored by the national reform group, Ed Challenge for Change.

"I am honored to stand with a chorus whose voices are lifted in a song of freedom, justice and change," cried Booker, as an urban group of mayors and educators including D.C. Mayor (and Booker ally) Adrian Fenty, New York Schools Superintendent Joel Klein, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and others clapped and cheered.

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The Back Room

Sweeney goes on offense

Days after Jersey City Mayor (and 2017 gubernatorial hopeful) Steve Fulop declared his support and fundraising devotion to South Jersey Congressional candidate Bill Hughes, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) see-sawed onto Fulop's turf with his own "I can find pockets of love in every part of this state including JC" statement.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 18, 2014

Fulop endorses Smith in Bayonne mayoral raceBAYONNE - Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop parachuted into the Bayonne mayoral race on Thursday night by endorsing incumbent Mayor Mark Smith."It is a pleasure to be with you here, Mark," said Fulop to a crowd of more than 125 supporters at a...

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Paterson can flourish with a second chance

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

"This is my first Mark Smith event. There have been a lot of changes in Hudson County over the last year and a half, and the most important change that has happened is that there really is unity. For the first time, we really are working together. Despite political differences. Mark and I have worked very hard to repair that. I'm really happy to be here in support of him, because I recognize that when you work together, politics becomes secondary and you really have time to focus on government, which is the most important thing." - Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop



Was Frank X. Graves of Paterson New Jersey's best mayor?:


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