Spadea Non Grata?

The Republican Assembly caucus is about to grow by one, Save Jerseyans. Up to 200 Republican committee members will gather tonight to fill the vacated seat of LD16’s late Assemblyman Peter Biondi.

Donna Simon - GOP Candidate for Assembly in LD16
Bill Spadea - Persona Non Grata in LD16?

Post-redistricting, the new LD16 includes Branchburg, Delaware, Flemington, Hillsborough, Manville, Millstone, Montgomery, Princeton Borough, Princeton Township, Raritan Township, Readington, Rocky Hill, Somerville, South Brunswick and Stockton.

In short, the district is a little less crimson red than when Biondi held the seat. All the more reason to be extra sure that Peter Biondi’s successor is the best possible candidate for the general election, right?

The primary contenders for this important honor are Readington Township Committeewoman Donna Simon (right) and political activist Bill Spadea of Princeton (left). Thus far, the contest has been less than pleasant. Ugly might be a superior word. Spadea has accused Simon and her backers – including the GOP chairmen of all three counties comprising LD16 – of conspiring to exclude his from the vacancy process. Simon’s team, in turn, has dismissed Spadea’s allegations outright.

So to borrow a little bastardized Latin, is Spadea really Non Grata (an unwelcome person) to LD16 GOP? Perhaps. But who cares? Least of all Bill Spadea!

Any experienced politics watcher will immediately recognize that there’s not much novel going on here even if you assume and adopt Mr. Spadea’s full set of facts. Partisan institutions always promote insiders and exclude outsiders; outsiders invariably batter the gates while loudly denouncing the insiders for excluding them. Eventually, at some point in the unspecified future, an intrepid outsider erodes the castle’s defenses, overtakes the besieged insiders and TA-DA! The outsider becomes the new insider, sacks the old insiders and begins to exclude the next generation of outsiders.

Did you follow all of that? I just described the life cycle of any institution, political or not. Human nature is what it is and does what it does, base as our nature might be and as much as we may like to rise above it. Interpersonal relations are downright animalistic at times. Cruel even; worthy of the most graphic Discovery Channel docudrama of mammals on the hunt or eating their young. We’ve all witnessed it happen again and again in the public sphere since the very dawn of time; as Shakespeare’s Cassius pondered in Scene One of Julius Caesar,

How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over,
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!

The answer to Cassius’s question is “countless,” Save Jerseyans. I can only imagine what new inspirations Shakespeare might’ve hatched had he had the opportunity to visit New Jersey.

New Jersey’s Bill Spadea may lose tonight, gather strength from it, rally other outsiders to his cause, and successfully engineer an upset later on in the primary process. Alternatively, Spadea could fall to never recover, and another Spadea-esque character will eventually rise up to accomplish what he couldn’t only later down the road. Struggle and conflict lead to progress (thanks, Marx). Fire tests even the strongest metals. I’m describing an organic process, and I don’t think it’s necessarily evil or terrible or entirely unproductive.

In any event, it’s only natural. And we should welcome whatever or whoever emerges from it: Simon or Spadea.