Joan Conde

I Am Invited to Play the Ponies With Senator Menendez

Did you ever receive a weird invitation, one that caused you to wonder about how you made it onto a mailing list? Case in point: this invitation from U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) inviting me to his "Tenth Annual Evening at the Races."

I don't know about you but when I think "races," I think of a guy huddled over a racing form, pencil in his ear and of his buddies, who wear tight-fitting sports jackets in loud plaids. I think, and in descending order: "ponies, bets, gambling addictions, bankruptsy, prison."

I don't think "college-educated, suburban single mother of two, allergic to all things plaid." I can't hear myself saying to my daughters, "Girls, I'm off to the track, don't wait up for me."

Bob Menendez was elected to his first full term in the Senate only this past November. Will the funds raised at the track retire debts from his '06 campaign, or pad his war chest for his 2012 run? Isn't this 24/7 fundraising activity wearying? Maybe this is why the fundriaiser is held at the track in the first place. But it isn't something I would like to spotlight, especially if I were Bob Menendez, who barely escaped indictment this fall.

I am a minor political donor, and a Democrat but I am in no way prepared to dole out $2,500.00 for a VIP reception, even if it does include "Special Guest Baseball Hall of Fame Legend Tom "Terrific" Seaver" but it does force an association of "baseball + betting." Now we're back where we started.

It may be time for Menendez to re-think how he is managing his fundraising events. He might try to tailor them to his new, broader constituencies. Because even if this is New Jersey, where "pay to play" is politics as usual and indictments are handed down as often as bodies turn up in car truncks, it may be possible to turn off a voter or two.

However, it IS the last season for our local heroes, "The Sopranos." I know THEY love to play the ponies. Maybe I should find a way to go. $500 seems high for cocktails and dinner but maybe my winnings that night would cover it. Do you figure "Dimpled Chad" to place in the fifth?


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