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Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Photo by Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe.

Sanders won’t compete at NJ mock presidential caucus

Campaign won’t take volunteers away from seeking votes in Iowa, New Hampshire

By David Wildstein, January 28 2020 12:19 pm

Bernie Sanders will not participate in a mock presidential caucus in New Jersey, one of the leaders of his campaign said.

“One of the strengths of the Sanders campaign is the way the entire national volunteer effort works together wherever we are needed. Right now, we are all Iowa volunteers,” said Barry Brendel, the state vice chair.

The mock caucus is being hosted by Passaic County freeholder John Bartlett and several grassroots Democratic groups, including NJ 11th for Change, BlueWave NJ, New Jersey Young Democrats, and some state party caucuses.   It’s being held Friday evening in Woodbridge.

Sanders’ New Jersey volunteers have between 100 and 150 volunteers making phone calls in early primary states every evening, the campaign said, and they don’t want to divert  their efforts for a mock caucus.

“When first approached about the caucus, I talked to a number of our top organizers and, to a person, they said they would rather spend Friday night making calls for Iowa or New Hampshire,” Brendel said.  “I agree.”

Brendel said he expects Sanders to still get a few votes, “but it would be in no way reflective of Bernie Sanders support in New Jersey.”

For newcomers: Brendel has been working on New Jersey political campaigns for more than 40 years.  He was the Carter-Mondale state field director in 1976, a candidate for Middlesex County freeholder in 1977 when Gov. Brendan Byrne needed to assemble his own line in the Democratic primary, state director of Carter’s 1980 Democratic primary campaign against Ted Kennedy.

He played a key role in Frank Lautenberg’s 1982 upset victory in the 1982 U.S. Senate race.  Brendel was a strategist for Gary Hart’s 1984 New Jersey presidential campaign and Steve Wiley’s 1985 campaign for governor.

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