Dear NJ 11th for Change Members,
We unhappily write to you to retract NJ 11th for Change’s endorsement of Democratic candidate A.J. Oliver for Morris County Commissioner.
This week, it came to light that Oliver, a member of the three-person slate we endorsed for Morris County Commissioner, has been concealing the fact that he is actually a vocal anti-choice activist.
Oliver did not initially disclose to his running mates that he is anti-choice; and later was not forthright that he is intent on advancing those beliefs legislatively, having urged people to call their legislators to lobby against New Jersey’s Reproductive Freedom Act. Nor did he disclose to his running mates that he had been endorsed by the anti-choice group DFLA (Democrats for Life of America).
However, a video emerged this weekend showing Oliver speaking publicly in December at a DFLA event. This prompted us to speak with people who have deeper insight into the situation, and we learned the unfortunate truth.
Members of the NJ 11th for Change endorsement committee based their July/August 2021 votes to endorse or not endorse this slate on their questionnaire responses, which avowed that the slate is “pro-woman” and “feminist.” Given the revelation that Oliver’s position is far removed from what most of us would consider “pro-woman” or “feminist,” we feel strongly that continuing to endorse this candidate would be a betrayal of our members’ values, which are and have always been overwhelmingly pro-choice. Moreover, Oliver’s lack of transparency with his team and running mates, and then with us, is antithetical to our organization’s core values.
We thereby retract NJ 11th for Change’s endorsement of A.J. Oliver.
We do not wish to provide Oliver with a platform for his views or a stepping stone to higher office. Nor can we in good conscience keep silent and encourage our members and the wider community to support a candidate who so drastically misrepresented his positions to us and others, and who so diametrically opposes our values.
We continue to enthusiastically endorse the other two candidates on the slate, T.C. McCourt and Dina Mikulka, and encourage our members to support them. They do not share Oliver’s anti-choice beliefs, and seem to have been blindsided by these revelations.
We understand that this retraction may hurt Oliver’s running mates’ chances in the election; however, we feel strongly that the responsibility for this lays firmly on the heads of Mr. Oliver and those who knowingly selected him to run as a Democrat despite his opposition to a central Democratic principle, the right to choose.
As a grassroots organization and an important “outsider” voice, it is crucial that we hold true to our mission and our values, and preserve NJ 11th for Change’s integrity and independence. Doing so serves a valuable long-term function in our democracy, even if it hurts our chances in a specific election in the short term. Our standards must be higher.
Leslie Bockol and Mara Novak
NJ 11th for Change
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