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A different kind of Senator

August 12 2013

Bob Braun, a former longtime columnist for The Star-Ledger, is following Rush Holt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. He will be sharing his thoughts and his stories from the campaign trail from time to time.

The name of novelist Tom Clancy does not instantly come to mind in discussion of real-life politics, but I heard the writer address a group of Presidential Scholars in Washington more than 20 years ago. His advice to the most brilliant high school graduates in the nation was, yes, go into public service, but first be somebody, do something. Don’t just aspire to a political position out of a sense it’s a vocation itself or,. worse, out of ego.

“Accomplish something first, and then you have something to offer to the people you wish to s ...

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Geek Out: bringing intelligence to the campaign

August 01 2013

Bob Braun, a former longtime columnist for The Star-Ledger, is following Rush Holt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. He will be sharing his thoughts and his stories from the campaign trail from time to time.

I lost too many friends in Vietnam ever to believe politics doesn’t matter in the lives of ordinary people. That war, and all the wars that followed it, proved politics can kill. Those growing up black and brown and disadvantaged proved politics can oppress. The dozens of New Jersey residents killed by Superstorm Sandy proved politics can lethally encourage complacency.  Politics simply is too dangerous to ignore—especially now when communications technology makes George Orwell’s 1984 look naïve and behind the times. We ar ...

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Where does he stand?

July 29 2013

Bob Braun, a former longtime columnist for The Star-Ledger, is following Rush Holt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. He will be sharing his thoughts and his stories from the campaign trail from time to time. 

The debate Saturday wasn’t really a debate. Few of these brief televised rituals are. But it did serve two purposes. It showed Rush Holt to be a man who both understands the magnificent power of ideas as well as the ability to translate those ideas into legislation.

And it showed Cory Booker's unwillingness to tell voters where he stands.

Those two purposes intersected most dramatically when Rush was called on to answer a question about the future of American cities, particularly in the light of the effort by Detr ...

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Helen Holt: Teacher, Pioneer, Mother

July 20 2013

Bob Braun, a former longtime columnist for The Star-Ledger, is following Rush Holt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. He will be sharing his thoughts and his stories from the campaign trail from time to time. 

When Helen Froelich Holt came to New Jersey to campaign for her son Rush, she wasn’t just filling the role of a candidate’s mother. She was demonstrating a family tradition of public service. She was presenting a personal history that, in many ways, explains Rush Holt Jr., and dramatizing why this candidate for the Senate is a different sort of man, a different sort of politician.

``He’s not a talker, he’s a doer,’’ says Helen of her son. She will turn 100 three days after the August 13 primary. ``Rush, of course, can make great ...

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The engine to build our nation

July 12 2013

​Bob Braun, a former longtime columnist for The Star-Ledger, is following Rush Holt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. He will be sharing his thoughts and his stories from the campaign trail from time to time.

Let’s talk about public education the way Rush Holt talks about public education.  Not as a business opportunity for school management firms and testing companies. Not as targets for politicians who blame school employees for failure caused by continued segregation, intractable economic problems, and lack of government support. Holt sees public education both as an engine to build a nation and a way to reshape the lives of all our children.

``As a teacher, I’ve seen firsthand the power of education to transform lives, ...

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A National Horror, a Personal Tragedy

July 01 2013

​Bob Braun, a former longtime columnist for The Star-Ledger, is following Rush Holt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. He will be sharing his thoughts and his stories from the campaign trail from time to time.

What does a member of Congress do? Well, you know, vote on bills, attend committee meetings, make speeches, raise money, run for re-election, vote on bills. That sort of thing.

And, sometimes, but not too often, a member of Congress saves a family caught up in a national horror compounded by a personal tragedy. Saves a widowed mother of four—a woman whose husband was murdered in a hate crime—from deportation. That’s what Rush Holt did.

The woman’s name is Durre Hasan. Like most of us, she remembers where she was the morning of September 11, 2001 ...

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Marrying the one you love

by Bruce H. Davidson on June 27 2013

​Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision was an important step. But the Supreme Court stopped short of ensuring that every state – including New Jersey – recognizes the right of everyone to marry. This fight isn’t over until everyone can get married to the person they love – and that will take leadership from inside and outside of the LGBT community. That’s why I’m supporting Rush Holt. Please join me in donating to support Rush’s campaign.

On March 26, 1983, I met Donald Barb. It wasn't love at first sight; but, as in many relationships that lead to marriage, our feelings deepened as we spen ...

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A Day For Celebration, With An Asterisk

by Bob Braun on June 27 2013

Bob Braun, a former longtime columnist for The Star-Ledger, is following Rush Holt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. He will be sharing his thoughts and his stories from the campaign trail from time to time.

A day for celebrations—of course. It always is when the cause of human rights is advanced, even a little. But there has to be an asterisk attached to all the expressions of happiness we heard when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down.

Because it has no impact here in New Jersey.

Not here and not in 37 other states that don’t allow same-sex couples to have the same and civil rights as they enjoy in the 12 states that embrace marriage equality.

So, while we’re celebrating the US Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA, let’s also reflect ...

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It Didn’t Make the 6 O’Clock News

June 24 2013

Bob Braun, a former longtime columnist for The Star-Ledger, is following Rush Holt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. He will be sharing his thoughts and his stories from the campaign trail from time to time.

Michelle Arrisueno has endorsed Rush Holt for United States senator.  It didn’t make the 6 o’clock news.

Hey, no surprise.  Michelle is just a recent college graduate working as hard as she can to help Rush win the August 13 primary. The media  traditionally cover campaigns by giving space or time to Big Names who say Important Things—or Experts, otherwise known as Talking Heads. They often ignore what really matters in a campaign. Like how issues affect the depth of popular support for a guy like Rush.

Big mistake. Because, with ...

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Snooki Isn’t the Celebrity She Once Was

by Bob Braun on June 20 2013

Bob Braun, a former longtime columnist for The Star-Ledger, is following Rush Holt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. He will be sharing his thoughts and his stories from the campaign trail from time to time.

I once suggested that, maybe, Snooki of ‘Jersey Shore’ should be named for New Jersey education commissioner. It was a joke, obviously, a humorous take on how Chris Christie and Cory Booker appeared like celebrities on the Oprah Show to announce how Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was creating some sort of $100 million fund that would be used somehow for the Newark schools.

But I'm guessing the joke would fall flat now because Snooki isn't the celebrity she once was. ...

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A Scientist and a Leader

by Bob Braun on June 18 2013

Bob Braun, a former longtime columnist for The Star-Ledger, is following Rush Holt’s campaign for the U.S. Senate. He will be sharing his thoughts and his stories from the campaign trail from time to time.

A few years ago, when I wrote profiles about the members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation, I was a little puzzled by Rush Holt, the Democrat from the state’s 12th district. His resume was unusual.  A scientist, an astrophysicist no less,  who waited until he was nearly 50 years old before beginning a career in politics—and beginning it with a run for an historically solid Republican seat.

Like other journalists, I asked Rush how in the world a lif ...

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