Me the people
A journalist feels right at home in the New Jersey statehouse
Me the people
I don’t often report from the statehouse in Trenton, but when doing so I feel perfectly at home: The place is loaded with middle-aged white guys.
I was there Tuesday as New Jersey’s extended political family mourned beloved member Alex DeCroce, the Morris County assemblyman who died in the waning minutes of a lame-duck session.
Dark suits and grey hair were everywhere in the Assembly chamber.
Even before I noticed former Gov. Brendan Byrne and former Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts shaking hands, I said to myself: It's like a Boston Irish wake in here.
The state legislature certainly includes women, as well as men who aren’t white. And young people are visible among the legislative staffers, security force, and what’s left of the press corps.
But my demographic impression is in synch with reality, according to Peter Woolley, director of Farleigh Dickinson University’s Public Mind Poll.
“The Legislature is…more male than the rest of population (and) whiter than the rest of the population" Woolley tells N.J. 101.5 radio news. "And it's certainly much older than much of the population."
No wonder I felt so at home.
Nevertheless, the power of incumbency creates a huge difference between members of the legislature and the rest of us, Woolley notes.
They've got fabulous job security.