WELCOME to the next edition of NOW New Jersey’s monthly FEMINIST FRIDAY Newsletter! Summer is in full swing with everyone looking forward to Fourth of July festivities on Sunday. With the close of primary season in June, we are starting to look ahead to November’s general election. However, we want to take a moment to reflect on what the outcomes of the primary mean for women and outsider candidates.

A Cape May County Indivisible activist pickets outside a Democratic candidates forum. Photo from The Press of Atlantic City.

The year of the line even as former candidates and progressive groups throughout the state have been fighting back against New Jersey’s line driven ballot design and asking for reform, this year’s primary reaffirmed the power of institutional party support (a right affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in California Democratic Party v. Jones, 2000). And this played out in several different ways.

From Senate race battles (in LD37 and LD20), incumbent Assembly members being ousted (in LD13 and LD26) to local races (most notably in Edison), we saw handy defeats for candidates not on ”the line”, sometimes despite grassroots support. In yet other races, we saw popular incumbents (Chiaravallotti in LD36) deciding to not run when they did not get the line.

So what does this mean for women candidates and representation? It means we will have less women in the NJ Senate (with Weinberg being replaced by a man), in a chamber where gender parity is already dismal (currently 11 out of 40 are women). But more widely it calls into question who controls the awarding of the line and thereby access to the ballot position – in most cases it is the county chair and party. They control not only the nomination but access to resources and money. Political contributions in New Jersey to individual candidates are limited at $2600, to Leadership Political PACs (such as Assembly and Senate) at $25,000 and County Party Committee at $37,000. It is clear who controls the bulk of funds and has decision making authority on how it is disbursed. In a blue state where Democrats control both houses and the Governor’s offices, only 5 of 21 Democratic county committee chairs are women and only three are in counties where their party is in power. To increase access for women and candidates of color, we need more than a change in ballot design, we need to address the power imbalance and no surprise – campaign finance reform.


NOW New Jersey President Anjali Mehrotra (right) and former NOW New Jersey intern Fiona Rodgers (left) with Governor Murphy at an event announcing Planned Parenthood’s endorsement in Montclair.

BIG BUCK$ — On Tuesday, Governor Murphy signed into law the largest budget in New Jersey history. The whopping $46.4M budget represents a progressive bucket list including $500 rebate checks for 760,000 households, increased aid for college tuition, a boost in property tax credits, expanded eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child and Dependent Care Credit, and a record $6.9 billion for the public employee pension fund. And the best part — no new taxes! “We know that New Jersey can only succeed when prosperity radiates from a strong middle class, and from the hard work of those yearning to join the middle class,” Murphy said during a budget signing event inside the gym at Ross Street School #11 in Woodbridge. “A budget must build from the middle out, and from the bottom up. That’s the vision that this budget supports.”

RFA FOR THE USA — U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez joined a group of Senate colleagues in introducing the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), bicameral legislation to guarantee equal access to abortion across the nation. The bill’s introduction follows the Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments in a case that directly threatens 50 years of precedent protecting access to abortion, and comes as states continue to pass anti-abortion laws. “The repeated attacks on abortion and reproductive health care are an assault to the fundamental idea that a person’s right to make their own medical decisions is an immutable, constitutional right,” said Sen. Booker. “As these injustices threaten the rights and freedoms of all people, the Women’s Health Protection Act is an important step in affirming what the Supreme Court declared decades ago, that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and that Americans have a constitutional right to make their own decisions about their bodies.”

ACCOUNTABILITY AT LAST — In February, NOW New Jersey called for transformational change at Edna Mahan and the State has now begun to hold key players accountable. Following years of abuse at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility and a newly released report, Governor Murphy announced plans to shut down the prison altogether on June 5. The next day New Jersey Corrections Commissioner Marcus Hicks announced his resignation. “Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women has a long history of abusive incidents predating our Administration, and we must now commit ourselves to completely breaking this pattern of misconduct to better serve incarcerated women entrusted to the State’s care,” Governor Murphy said in a statement.


REGISTER TODAY — The National NOW Conference is right around the corner! The conference, which starts on July 24, will span three different weekends in July and August. Check out the National NOW website for more info. Even if you are not planning to attend, you still need to register in order to vote so make sure to sign up here! Mark your calendars for the Northern District Caucus meeting on Saturday July 24 at 3:30PM, moderated by NOW New Jersey President Anjali Mehrotra. You can also catch her as a panelist on the PAC Brunch.

RUN NOW — Are you ready to take your campaigning efforts to the next level? Join data expert Cheyenne Davis on Tuesday, July 13 and July 27 at 7PM for two training sessions on Voter File. The key to a successful campaign is identifying and investing time in the voters that will ensure a win for you or the candidate you are promoting—Voter File is the answer for how to do just that. We encourage attending both sessions to fully grasp how to integrate Voter File into your work. Members can sign up for these training sessions as well as other RUN NOW events at https://now.org/run-now/. Check out the full training schedule here.


EQUALITY PERIOD — On June 1, Senator M. Teresa Ruiz sponsored a resolution submitted by Equality, Period. NJ declaring May 28 of each year as Menstrual Equity Day in New Jersey. While this is more of a symbolic gesture, it signifies a greater commitment to menstrual equity in New Jersey. Stay tuned for further developments this year on the amended Ingredients bill and Menstrual Products bill. In a similar vein, NOW New Jersey President has proposed a NOW National Conference resolution demanding legislation address menstrual inequity – be sure to vote to include it during the conference!

ERA GOOD FOR BUSINESS — NOW President Christian F. Nunes and President/CEO of the ERA Coalition Carol Jenkins wrote a joint op-ed last month urging the Senate to remove the deadline on the ERA. The piece focused on the state of women in the economy. Women are already at a disadvantage with less access to opportunity and lower pay and this disparity has only been exacerbated further by the pandemic. “The ERA will create a permanent, uniform, and national standard for preventing the government from discriminating based on sex and would empower Congress to enforce gender equity through legislation…We want and need to live in a society that respects all its citizens, not just a privileged few. There can be no expiration date on equality.


We must be ferocious in demanding access to reproductive health care | Opinion — The Star Ledger

Christian Nunes, president of the National Organization for Women, bemoaned Cosby’s release as the result of a “technicality.” — NBC News

Britney Spears’ battle to take back control of her life and fortune — The Guardian

Mom who brought toddler to job interview sparks conversation on child care crisis — Good Morning America

Title IX Protections Extend to Transgender Students, Education Dept. Says — The New York Times


As the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team clinched a victory in the 2019 World Cup, fans erupted in an unexpected chant: “Equal pay. Equal pay. Equal pay.” The new documentary LFG released on June 17 provides an inside look at the legal battle for equal pay from the perspective of the US women’s soccer team players.

With four World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals, the USWNT is one of the most accomplished and successful teams in the history of international sports. But despite its overwhelming dominance, the team is paid considerably less than the men’s national team. A few months before its World Cup win, more than 20 players filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, seeking equitable pay and treatment compared to the men’s team. But in May 2020, the majority of the suit was dismissed by federal judges who argued that the players were being paid according to the terms of the contracts they had signed.

The directors, Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine, believe the story is one that will resonate with most women. “They’re going to feel like, ‘Oh, been there, felt that’ — the lack of value, the lack of respect,” said Nix Fine. After debuting at the Tribeca film festival, it’s now available on HBO Max so go check it out!

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New Jersey NOW
Our purpose is to act through intersectional, anti-racist grassroots activism to promote
feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect
the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.

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