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Former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe.

Democrats must not forget about state races, McGreevey says

GOP controls most of country’s statehouses

By Nikita Biryukov, September 23 2019 1:50 pm

Former Gov. Jim McGreevey on Monday issued a warning about the dangers of the Democratic party becoming overly-focused on national politics to the detriment of their holdings at the state level.

“Developing the next generation of women and men who are going to provide leadership in the Democratic party is so critically important, particularly on the state level,” McGreevey said. “As important as Congress is nationally for the sake of securing majorities in the House of Representatives and in the United States Senate, the importance of the statehouses all across the nation — it’s doing the hard pick-and-shovel work that secures statehouse victories that in turn provides for congressional maps that creates greater opportunities.”

Republicans hold both chambers in 30 of the county’s states, while Democrats hold the same in only 18. The GOP also hold the governorship in 22 of those states, while Democrats control the legislative and executive branches in 14.

“Candidly, I think that the national GOP has been more assiduous in attending to statehouses, so it’s always a concern for me, myopically, that the Democratic party not merely become a national party,” McGreevey said.

Since he resigned as governor in 2004, he’s focused his energy on improving the quality of the state’s prisoner re-entry program.

In that arena, he said, control of state governments is more important than control on a national level, as federal prisons account for a relatively small number of the country’s inmates.

According to a 2017 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, the country’s federal prisons held roughly 183,000 inmates, while state jails held about 1.3 million.

“The federal prison system is relatively minute in terms of the overall American prison population, so it’s happening in state prisons all across the country, and this isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. There are Republican governors that have done great work,” McGreevey said. “I mean the Koch brothers, with whom, probably, I disagree on every issue, but on the question of reentry and employment opportunities for second chance, they have been a thought leader.”

David and Charles Koch advocate and fund conservative issues nationally, though their interests sometimes aligned with those of liberal groups. David Koch died in August.

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