Salerno builds all-star stable of consultants in bid to oust Van Drew
In his race to unseat Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis), businessman Joe Salerno has assembled a strong team of consultants who have won House seats in districts that are more Republican than New Jersey’s 2nd district.
Jeffrey Plaut, a New Jerseyan who runs Global Strategy Group, is handling Salerno’s polling. His firm worked with Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights to pass a referendum codifying legal abortion into the State Constitution and worked for Mercer County Executive Dan Benson. GSG has worked for Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), five Democratic governors, and several U.S. Senators.
Salerno’s direct mail consultants are Fiona Conroy and Justin Myers of Deliver Strategies. Conroy managed Joe Manchin’s 2012 U.S. Senate race, and Myers is a former executive director of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee and regional political director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2016; after redistricting put two Democratic congressmen in the same district in 2012, Myers was campaign manager for Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) in his upset win over Rep. Steve Rothman (D-Englewood).
Television ads for Salerno will be produced by Josh Wolf and Andy Meyer of A|L Strategies. They’ve worked for Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and produced one of the best TV ads of the 2022 cycle to help Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee win a competitive race.
The digital campaign is being run by Bret Wask of SBDigital, a veteran of New Jersey campaigns and a former DCCC regional political director. Past clients include Gov. Phil Murphy, the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, Planned Parenthood, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
His campaign counsel is a legendary election law expert, Angelo Genova.
Salerno said Democratic strategist Julie Roginsky, whose firm, BARO Strategies, had joined his team as a $10,000-a-month consultant in June, left this month under amicable terms.
“We decided we were going to wrap things up. She’s been extraordinarily helpful to the campaign, but its run its course, and it’s time to move on,” he said.
He stressed that the decision to part ways was made before the disclosure that Roginsky’s business partner, Chris Bastardi, was involved in the founding of Jersey Freedom, a controversial independent expenditure group that funded a phantom candidate, conservative Giuseppe Costanzo, in a South Jersey State Senate race last year.
Salerno has accused Van Drew of inciting bitterness to curry favor with Washington’s most extreme MAGA Republicans.
“It’s not just the authoritarianism of Donald Trump, but the enablers as well,” Salerno told the New Jersey Globe. “Jeff Van Drew is an artful practitioner of this dark business.”
The first-time candidate faces Tim Alexander and Carolyn Rush in a race for the Democratic nomination. Van Drew defeated Alexander in 2022 by 19 percentage points. Alexander had defeated Rush in the Democratic primary.
Salerno had raised $521,332 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2023, including a $400,000 personal loan. He has not yet announced his 4th quarter haul.