In the waning days of the Democratic primary election, Sen. Joe Cryan has placed himself at the center of a growing storm touching on abortion, gun violence and white nationalism, irritating Elizabeth Democrats and turning himself into a more high-profile political target as voters prepare to cast ballots in Elizabeth, Union, Roselle and Cranford.
Cryan cast the deciding vote that closed six Planned Parenthood clinics in New Jersey when he helped Republican Governor Chris Christie enact the 2010 state budget.
Cryan convinced Union Township officials—whose fortunes he controls as the local political boss—to welcome an NRA-affiliated shooting range and firearms dealer to a location on Route 22.
And, while trying to reverse key accomplishments of the Black Lives Matter movement by rolling back recently enacted bail reforms, he earned vocal support from Trump-loving police unions. Cryan also opposed legislation championed by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka that would allow cities to require police employees to reside in the municipality where they work and permit civilian police review boards.
Cryan has also defended the practice of qualified immunity, which shields errant cops who engage in police brutality and other crimes from civil liability. Qualified immunity has literally enabled police to get away with murder and it became a widespread focus of controversy afer the murder of George Floyd.
Cryan has done nothing to get white nationalist extremists out of the military and law enforcement, a problem described as ‘a nightmare’ for Latino and Black Americans who often face discrimination, abuse, and neglect.
“I cannot believe this needs to be said, but white nationalism has no place in our armed forces, our police departments or in any corner of American society, period, full stop, end of story,” said US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Abortion is an issue that has repeatedly helped Democrats win elections since the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, but at the outset of his career in the Legislature, Cryan declared that he would outlaw abortion except in cases of rape and incest, or if pregnancy endangered a woman’s life.
Planned Parenthood says that abortion accounts for only 3% of the health services its clinics provide across the country. Contraceptive services, by comparison, make up 34%, according to the organization, but anti-abortion activists have sought to shutter its women’s health clinics.
Cryan proved his position when he closed six Planned Parenthood clinics in New Jersey and in 2004, he beat up a girlfriend after she terminated a pregnancy.
Six of 58 Planned Parenthood clinics in New Jersey closed and 14 reduced hours and services after Cryan cast the deciding vote to approve $7.5 million in cuts that former Gov. Chris Christie said he made because he’s “pro-life.”
“Cryan is widely considered someone who is a white nationalist that would be more comfortable as a Trump Republican but he knows that MAGA Republicans have very little chance of winning elections in the Democratic communities of New Jersey,” said James Devine, a liberal political strategist who has tangled with the corrupt lawmaker.
“Cryan soaks taxpayers for more than $330,000 a year in salaries and he is a vile human being but for reasons that escape me, he holds sway over much of the political establishment,” said Devine.
Cryan was tagged as a Republican sympathizer in 2011, when Tony Monteiro, the former Elizabeth school board president, and Fourth Ward Councilman Carlos Cedeno came close to defeating the politician by revealing that although he was once a state Democratic Party leader, Cryan’s was the deciding vote that gave life to the Christie budget.
“They allowed the millionaire’s tax to expire,” Monteiro said of Cryan, explaining mailings he sent questioning the Union Democrat’s party loyalty. “Cryan provided the deciding vote in June 2020, to enact Christie’s first round of draconian budget cuts, which wiped out federal funding for women’s health clinics, ended property tax rebates for struggling homeowners, slashed spending on education and put hundreds of teachers, police, and firefighters on unemployment.”
Among Cryan’s campaign contributors are Philip Morris and Reynolds, the two biggest cigarette makers gave him almost $15,000. Exxon. ConocoPhillips and other corporations that are largely responsible for toxic waste contamination in New Jersey and global climate change have also invested heavily in the crooked politician’s campaigns.