The first candidate to enter the Republican U.S. Senate primary is Dana Wefer, a 35-year-old progressive activist and onetime Bernie Sanders supporter who became a Republican last year after saying political bosses broke her party by anointing Phil Murphy for governor. She says she’s “not wholly on board with President Trump,” but has come to appreciate some of his views.
Wefer, who served in Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s administration as Chairman of the Hoboken Housing Authority, will run on an anti-corruption platform against incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez. The Department of Justice announced last week that they would re-try Menendez on corruption charges.
Wefer first started running for office at age 22, when she launched an impressive but unsuccessful bid for Morris County Freeholder. She ran against Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township) the next year.
After law school, she moved to Hoboken and became involved in local politics there. She lost her 2015 campaign for City Council.
Weber said Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were not “paragons of virtue.
“Donald Trump won because he was promising to disrupt the whole system. If the Democrats don’t like it, the answer is to nominate better people, talk about the issues that matter to people, and stop rigging elections,” Wefer said.
“I think that because my political activism has always been focused on government reform, Donald Trump’s election to the presidency affected me differently than it did most other Democrats,” Wefer said. Saying the election “popped her bubble.”
“It changed my whole worldview,” Wefer, an attorney with an office in Englewood. “Someone who terrified me being elected president made me appreciate the importance of smaller and more limited government. It made me more conservative.”
Wefer said she strongly disagrees with Trump on issues like of off-shore drilling.
“At the end of the day, these are policy disagreements and we should be able to discuss them and things like immigration, tax policy, and the role of government without hysteria.”
Wefer said that she came to realize that much of what she saw and read had distorted her understanding of reality, pointing to credible news outlets running stories about Trump that she viewed as unfair.
“At the time it terrified me,” Wefer explained. “Now it makes me angry, because it’s such a transparent lie. I feel manipulated.”
Wefer is critical of her former party.
“You have to be completely onboard with the party orthodoxy you’re deemed a racist or a bigot by the party’s base,” she said. “It got to a point where I was afraid to express my views to Democrats. It’s a very unhealthy place for a political party to be. In addition, they’re supremely corrupt.”