Gopal Beating Beck Was No Upset. It Was Gerrymandering and Camden Colonialism

By Tommy DeSeno

Election night we listened to pundit after pundit (some admitting they know little about the 11th District) proclaim Vin Gopal’s victory over Senator Jen Beck was an “upset.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Every indicia of prognostication said Vin Gopal was the favorite, and it starts with the previous census.

I’ve lamented for some time that voting in “districted elections” is like not voting at all.  After each census, 10 political big shots, 5 from each party, meet in a hotel room and draw crazy lines that allow them to divvy up the state between the two parties.  Democrats having an advantage in this state, their “map” wins, by an 11th man tiebreaker.  This is followed by us sheep doing our civic duty and voting even though the pols already stacked the demographic deck.  The winning party acts like it was political prowess that won them the election, when in fact the day was won in the hotel room where the map is drawn every 10 years.  This system is an inhibitor of democracy.

Before the current lines of the 11th district were redrawn, recall what every election night brought:  Numbers would come in from Neptune, Asbury Park and Long Branch showing giant Democrat margins.  Then Wall Township’s numbers would come in, and wipe out that margin of victory for the Democrats.  The rest of the towns combined would offer the Republican a victory.  This victory was reflective of the county in general and the natural state of the demography.  With very limited exception, we have have had Republican representation on the county level for decades.

For many years in South Jersey, also known as the People’s Republic of George Norcross, whose capital is Camden County, they have had their eyes on taking over the entire shore including what is now the 11th District.

Recall the legendary fights between Norcross and then Senator John Bennett, which actually devolved into a physical altercation.  Norcross wanted our area so badly he was behind a huge campaign against Bennett.  He teamed up with then Asbury Park Press editor Skip Hidlay, who ran 19 negative front page stories about a billing error Bennett once made (and corrected), making it seem like he had done something wrong.  We had seen this act before, when Norcross got his then political neophyte friend Steve Sweeney elected, with Skip Hidlay attacking Sweeney’s opponent from his then publisher’s perch with South Jersey’s Courier Post.  All the same vendors who made attack ads against Sweeney’s opponent made them against Bennett. Bennett lost to Ellen Karcher, but that victory was short lived and the Republicans, Jen Beck, took the seat right back.

Then recall the race between then Republican assemblymen Sean Kean and Steve Corodemus vs Democrats Matt Doherty and John Riley.  HUGE amounts of money came in from Camden county for the Democrats, but Kean and Corodemus squeaked by.  Kean later became Senator.  But stay tuned, because George Norcross hates losing and never gives up.

Then came the 2011 redistricting following the 2010 census.  Alan Rosenthal, the 11th man in the redistricting back room, approved the “Democrat Map.”  Rosenthal said that map would cause the “least amount of disruption.”  Really? Take a look at what the Democrat map did and how disruptive it was:


  • It took Wall Township and its huge Republican margin of victory out of the district.
  • It removed Republican Senator Sean Kean and Assemblyman Dave Rible and put them in the 30th district, wiping away the incumbents.

This shift first led to Democrats Joanne Downey and Eric Houghtaling taking the Assembly seats from Republicans Mary Pat Angelini and Carolyn Casagrande. As of Tuesday, thanks also in no small part to what will be shown to be a HUGE amount of money coming from Camden County to help Gopal, the Democrat has unseated Republican Senator Jen Beck.

So what’s this talk about an upset? This was Camden County’s dream and work more than a decade in the making.  Add to that the district is now registered more heavily with Democrats than Republicans, the money advantage and Gopal running with incumbent Assembly candidates, it’s clear Jen Beck was the underdog. This was NO upset. It was expected.

I’ll take nothing away from Vin Gopal’s efforts. As Art Gallagher has already pointed out, his campaign was all hustle and added to his great advantage.  Let’s hope he makes for a good Senator and ignores our Camden County overlords.  Let’s support him until he gives us a reason not to do so.

As for Beck, she tried to blow with the political winds and become more of a liberal once the district changed.  Know this: Given the choice between a liberal Democrat and a liberal Republican, liberals will still vote Democrat.  Republicans just won’t vote.  No one respects a left-leaning Republican.

As for the Republican Party, two things:

-Discourage left leaning Republicans;

-After the 2020 census, pick the right guy as the tie-breaking vote on the redistricting committee or suffer another decade in the shadows.

Posted: November 16th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County News, Opinion | Tags: , , , , , | 8 Comments »

8 Comments on “Gopal Beating Beck Was No Upset. It Was Gerrymandering and Camden Colonialism”

  1. As for the Republican Party said at 10:45 am on November 16th, 2017:

    Tom, if you’re goong to (accurately) cry that there arent enough Republicans along the shore, then perhaps your suggestions to the Republican Party might include things like:

    Local “Republican” townships should refuse to collect or send portions of property taxes that the state gives away to Abbott districts

    Local “Republicans” in Freehold might consider enforcing immigration laws in the boro

    Local “Republicans” might considering hiring Police Chiefs who will sign off on firearms carry permits in town.

    Local “Republicans” might actually refuse to collect and send portions of property taxes tjat go towards affording housing mandates, then really refuse huge affordable housing projects to be built on clear cut forests.

    See, my problem with most Republicans is they just fail to deliver to their base. Obama came through with healthcare, its terrible, but he delivered. Murphy will cone through with legal weed, its terrible, but he’ll deliver. Democrats will ban forearms eventually, really. They came through with a way to get wealthy white towns to pay top dollar for urban black schools, and still pull it off. Democrats made “illegal” aliens into “poor people trying to make it”. Democrats deliver to their base, Republicans have NEVER in my life time came through for their base. Repiblican pres, congress, court… still no tax plan, no healtcare plan, no national roght to carry, nothing.

  2. Dirty Hippie said at 10:57 am on November 16th, 2017:

    “Billing error,” my ass. John Bennett got caught trying to steal from the taxpayers. Bennett, who spent his entire adult life feeding at the public trough, is sleazy. If anyone other than Chris Christie was the US Attorney when this happened, Bennett would have been indicted.

  3. If you think said at 11:39 am on November 16th, 2017:

    the districts are bad for us now, just wait until this latest bunch of Dems gets done with the next round: we will be lucky to have 3 left in Congress, and a dozen left in both houses of the legislature: for the last three cycles, the same “ neutral” tie- breaker guy always votes with the Dems. So, forget any hope of regaining much of anything in our lifetimes here. And, am predicting Menendez stays, and we’ll always have Booker, or a replacement Dem if, God forbid, they put him on the national ticket!! It’s all too depressing!

  4. Kathy Baratta said at 3:07 pm on November 16th, 2017:

    If I remember correctly, the “billing error” was in the area of seven thousand dollars or so.

    I find it hard to believe this was a deliberate embezzlement given the amount. If there had been at least another two zeros then billing error would be less conceivable.

  5. Ann says said at 4:43 pm on November 17th, 2017:

    Tom – check out Ann Coulter’s column:
    “It’s not as if Republicans are unaware of how demographics can affect elections. They certainly notice when they’re drawing congressional boundaries. We don’t see GOP congressmen saying, No, I don’t mind trading that all-white town for part of a Chicago housing project. Why should I? ”

    and so i stand by my assessment:
    1) the “Republican” sheriff in town needs to stop the influx of illegals
    2) the “Republican” mayors in town need to make sure that the laws encourage Republican voters to move INTO town; hints:
    a) lower taxes
    b) better schools (by not sending local tax money to low performing urban areas)
    c) second amendment support is probably helpful
    d) have local police enforce FEDERAL law which says marijuana is an illegal drug despite what NJ Dems claim or want – in fact even NJ dems take an Oath to uphold the Constitution of these United States which is that federal law supsupercedes state law
    3) encourage non-Republican voters to move on out of town:
    a) end the public school programs for 2,3,4 year old – lets be honest, it’s publicly funded day care. support capitalism and find a local KinderCare(TM) or move to a town that likes to be taxed and have the govt waste money “teaching” kids too young to learn.
    b) end the aftercare programs / shift the funds to after school: music, sports, clubs that encourage voluntary after school activity.
    c) don’t support affordable housing mandates that bring in more low-income voters who, as Ann notes, are by far Dem voters.

    Again, the Democrats will continue to serve their base — when will Republicans do the same? If not now, starting today, then kiss your party and your little circles of power goodbye.

  6. Under a rock somewhere said at 7:31 pm on November 17th, 2017:

    Uhh Didn’t you endorse Gopal?!:


    I mean you really have no ground to stand on if you supported him…

  7. Have always said said at 11:44 am on November 18th, 2017:

    that being a chair is an unpaid, thankless task, which consists of paying attention all over a diverse, growing county, nearly 24/7. And, as one can see in Washington, especially with Republicans, (who generally have their own minds/actually think on issues,) it is like herding cats, to try and assemble a team that puts egos aside, and rows in the same direction, for the greater good. ( aka, beating Democrats on every level.) All chairs are human, have regular jobs, and make mistakes, but, face it, the local GOP chairs have not all been pulling their weight, either. I just hope that more will get together soon, and strategize for the future, or we will soon be the next, hopeless, Essex/ Hudson/Passaic.

  8. new chair? new sheriff, new ideas said at 12:58 pm on November 18th, 2017:

    Its not a new chair, its about having a party that actually comes through and delivers.
    Sheriff needs to enforce immigration laws, enforce federal drug laws, sign off on carry permits, prohibit extortion payments known as Abbott districts, things that will attract Republican voters to move in to Monmouth County and Dem voters to move out. John Curley likes to say “Republicans built this great county!”… and now the Dems are moving in and forcing Republicans out.

    Plus, Tom stole this… http://www.anncoulter.com/columns/2017-11-15.html