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Kevin J. O'Toole, the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is a former New Jersey State Senator. (Photo: Kevin J. O'Toole.)

The O’Toole Chronicles: “One Week to Go”

By Kevin O'Toole, October 26 2021 12:01 am

Well it is that time of year again.  We are one week from elections in New Jersey and 120 legislative seats are up. While most are not hotly contested, there is a distinct air of despair and heightened sensitivities from some of our elected officials. Compounding this delight, is the hard truth that federal and state redistricting commissioners are actually toiling away and potentially impacting the lives and careers of many elected officials.

Can you feel the tension?

I sure can.

A few tips to survive the next seven days:

  1. Give as little bad news to the principals as possible – they are raising money and pushing out votes, don’t be foolish enough to ask questions about anything not related to their fate on 11/2.
  2. When in doubt, raise money for the candidates NOW — this is the precious last week and the close races could be decided by a last minute media buy, enlarged GOTV. Many office holders are grateful for that perceived life raft, particularly as a political drowning is becoming ever so more a real possibility.
  3. Don’t argue with on-the-edge candidates. Remember in their mind’s life is ride or die in 7 days and nothing else matters, except redistricting. Just listen to the rants of the obsessed candidates and try and service that anxiety —help with a phone bank, arrange a friendly stop, give some informed good news. And for goodness sake, don’t take the shortness of patience or moodiness too hard.
  4. With regard to the anxiety level, November 2 is a complete relief, until the leadership elections the following day or two.
  5. It isn’t helpful to call up the day or night before the end all election and give the candidate some anecdotal tale of some poll which has the jumpy candidate losing or spreading a rumor about the monstrous and unanticipated effort or show of force by the opponent.
  6. Do not share an election day prognostication made by some back-bench reporter or individual who never had his/her name on a ballot. I truly believe that with rare exception, the better coaches are former players.

Rest assured, come the counting of all the official results, there will be some joy and heartbreak on this special day. The winners will radiate confidence and those with less votes will think it is the coming of an apocalypse. If your election is close, given the cure letter process, it will be a long week of waiting and high anxiety for all involved.

Here’s some experience talking, election day, while temporarily definitive, comes and goes quickly, and other opportunities will soon be found around the corner for winners and losers.

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