Congressional candidate John Flora faces an accusation of sexism following a Twitter post that claimed Hudson County Chairwoman Amy DeGise was a figurehead for her father, County Executive Tom DeGise.
“This kind of sexist crap shouldn’t be tolerated from anyone, much less someone like @Flora4Congress who is seeking Democratic support,” Hudson County Democratic Organization spokesman Phil Swibinski said. “@Amy_DeGise was fairly elected to lead the @HudsonDems and has distinguished herself as a strong leader who cares deeply about equality.”
Flora posted a photo depicting the elder DeGise pulling the chairwoman on marionette strings to his campaign’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts.
The image advertises a March 7 rally in front of the HCDO headquarters.
“We have an electoral structure in Nj that keeps the same people sitting in the same positions w/ little to practically no opposition,” Flora said in a post to his campaign’s Instagram account. “In Hudson County, it is an inherited oligarchy w/ a father & daughter.”
Amy DeGise won control of the HCDO in 2018, when State Sen. Brian Stack, who is also Union City Mayor, and a handful of Hudson County Mayors moved to oust Tom DeGise as county executive.
The chairwoman beat Stack for control of the HCDO, and a relative peace reigns in Hudson.
Flora, a Jersey City teacher who is mounting a primary challenge to Rep. Donald Payne Jr., said the post was not an attempt to be sexist, adding that his campaign manager was a woman.
“What is in question here is process, & there appears to be none in place that is both transparent & welcomes all committeepersons & newcomer candidates,” he said. “NJ, & more specifically Hudson County, is tired of politics as usual.”
Flora and other progressives in the state are calling for the abolition of organizational lines.
Such lines, which guarantee a favorable ballot position, are typically awarded to incumbents.
Hudson’s line went to Payne.
The challenger said the HCDO refused to speak with him about the primary process.
“Our campaign made attempts to speak w/ the organization privately. Door shut in our face,” he said. “That is not progressive democracy.”
Flora is one of a number of progressive primary challengers styling themselves after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who defeated Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY), then a member of House leadership, in a 2018 primary.
Since then, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has adopted a policy blacklisting consultants who work with campaigns against Democratic incumbents.
“@Flora4Congress owes an apology to @Amy_DeGise and to all the women leaders in Hudson County and beyond who are working hard to make their communities better every day,” Swibinski said. “If he won’t do that, he should drop out of this race right now.”