George E. Norcross III has never held political office, but his influence in politics in South New Jersey has been dominant the past two decades. Philly Mag called him “the man who destroyed democracy,” in a 2013 article. “Many elected officials in the region essentially answer to Norcross, a superboss in New Jersey politics and the unofficial leader of the powerful Camden County Democratic Party,” wrote Jim Walsh in a 2007 Asbury Park Press article. Tom Moran of the New Jersey Star-Ledger (NJ.com) wrote in a 2014 editorial op-ed, “Norcross is the second-most powerful man in New Jersey, undisputed head of a team that controls perhaps one-quarter of the votes in the Legislature.”
When George Norcross’ brother, Donald Norcross, ran in 2014 for the seat of New Jersey’s first congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, he was widely expected to win the election in the historically Democratic district. Initially expected to breeze through the Democratic primaries to re-election again in 2016, an unlikely thorn in the Norcross’ side is emerging as a viable alternative to the preferred George Norcross loyalist; 24 year old Alex Law.
Law’s decision to run against Norcross stemmed from conversations he had with friends, complaining about politics, both on local and national levels, in regards to the corruption and graft rampant in American politics. Instead of indulging in the lethargy often endemic to disenfranchised voters, Law decided to do something about their concerns by running for congress. Despite his age, which would make him the youngest representative in congress since Thomas Downey was elected in 1974 from New York’s second congressional district,Law is thriving off of running as a Millennial.
“One of the first things we did with the campaign was run an ad on a 60-foot billboard on the Atlantic City expressway saying, ‘I was born in 1991.’ It’s not something we’re running away from, it’s something we’re proud of that I would be the youngest congressman elected since 1974, the first person born in the 1990s, the first true millennial elected to congress,” Mr.Law told me in a phone interview. After graduating from NYU Stern School of Business, Law gave up his consultant job at IBM to campaign full-time. “This campaign is something people in the district are excited about because we have an issue in the first district where a lot of young people are moving away to find other opportunities. I think a lot of people who are here really appreciate and respect the young person who acknowledges the issues we have in this community, and they are excited I’m willing to take those on and be a part of the next generation to shoulder some of the responsibility for helping our community as much as we can.”
The progressive millennial candidate has been focusing on grassroots strategies to connect with voters, knocking on 20,000 doors throughout his district and compiling a team of over a hundred volunteers so far. Law cited his campaign has received a lot of support from the baby boomer generation as well as millennials who have had enough of politics as usual.
Why Support Sanders? For Law, Campaign Finance Integrity Is The Key.
The candidate solidified his break from establishment politics through a formal endorsement of Senator Bernie Sanders for president, the only Democrat running for office in New Jersey who has done so. Law cites the one reason that shifted his support for Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton was campaign finance reform, an issue endemic to move forward if people want the government to work for them again.
“Mrs. Clinton talks about campaign finance reform, but she has aggressively pursued and used every single loophole, including Super Pacs, to raise as much money as she can. To me that kind of hypocrisy was something very unattractive and inspired me to look more into Bernie and really understand his stance on issues which I almost agree with him right down the line on. I’m very proud to call myself a Bernie Sanders supporter and to say I feel the Bern.”
Law’s disdain for hypocrisy in politics served as a major inspiration to run against Democratic incumbent, Congressman Norcross, a part of the infamous Norcross political machine of South Jersey. Congressman Norcross’ voting record is congress makes him nearly indistinguishable from many of his Republican colleagues in the house, including his support for Keystone XL and opposition to accepting Syrian refugees. Law explained,
“The fact that we’re both Democrats is really the only similarity between us,” added Law. “Congressman Norcross has voted with the Republicans more than any other Democrat in the New Jersey delegation since he’s been in congress, including almost every single controversial vote, so in terms of policy we have a very different vision. He’s what many people would consider as a ‘Dino’ and I am a proud progressive. Our policies are very different.”
Law’s policy stances align with many progressive ideals, such as favoring student loan reforms, immigration reform, and raising the minimum wage.
“I can tell you with absolute certainty I know the issues better than Congressman Norcross and I am as passionate as anyone could possibly be about politics, running for office, and serving my community.”