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John Adler

John Adler

Former Congressman John Adler and his wife Shelley were law school classmates of mine.  John passed away yesterday at the age of 51 from complications from a heart infection. 

As reported by the Newark Star Ledger:

Former U.S. Rep. John Adler had a knack for beating the odds.

As a young adult living on Social Security, he scrambled enough money for Harvard through jobs, student loans and scholarships. When he ran for State Senate in 1991, he was the only Democrat to beat an incumbent Republican in either house of the Legislature as the GOP staged a landslide victory. Seventeen years later, he became the first Democrat to represent a conservative South Jersey congressional district in a century.

Adler, a lawmaker respected by both Republicans and Democrats and a longtime chairman of the powerful state Senate Judiciary Committee, died today of complications stemming from a bacterial staph endocarditis infection, his family said.

Adler, who was 51, had fought the infection for three weeks after emergency heart surgery last month.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by four sons.

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As a person, a good man. As a political operative, not so much. Centrist? Hardly. He was one of the Dems who had a "Tea Party" candidate engineered onto the ballot in an unsuccessful effort to keep his seat in 2010.

Congressman Jon Runyan issued the following statement regarding the sad passing of his very recent former rival for the congressional seat (during the 2010 election cycle):

"I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of former Congressman John Adler, especially his wife Shelley and their four boys. May John rest in peace, and may those he left behind be comforted in the knowledge that his lifetime of public service to our community has left a lasting legacy for which they can be most proud.

"I valued and respected his leadership and his commitment to the people of New Jersey's Third District and indeed the entire state."

As can be seen from the embedded video clip on Jon Runyan's congressional website at the link above, Jon also took to the floor to congress to personally add to those remarks.

Here is the link to those remarks. That clip is posted on YouTube.

Sadly, I felt compelled to post the above comment by Jon Runyan because there was, across New Jersey, significant press coverage of Mr. Adler's untimely death that I believe intentionally ignored the statements issued by Jon Runyan.

Note, for example, the Star-Ledger story by Statehouse reporter Megan DeMarco, which you linked in your post. Even though the paper memorializes that the story was first posted well into the evening of April 4th (8:55 pm), and that it was last updated early in the morning of the 5th (5:43 am), no mention whatsoever was made of Runyan's comments, even though they had been issued the day before.

Note, however, that the comments of others including one Republican, were sought out and included.

Having followed the various papers and news cycles in New Jersey for years, I simply have no doubt that their omission was intentional. There was no excuse not to include a comment from Runyan.

Likewise, the story by Matt Katz which appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, a paper which is widely read in South Jersey, including throughout the 3rd Congressional District.

The Inky reporter, Matt Katz even sought out a comment from a former NJ State Senate Democrat colleague of Adler's from Bergen County to include in his story, but ignored any reference to the posted Runyan statement.

Bergen County is at the northern end of the state west of New York City, entirely beyond the media area of coverage of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Star-Ledger has long considered itself the newspaper of record in New Jersey, and is a part of the state-wide newspaper media group at

Politickernj, the largest political news aggregator in NJ, has also ignored any reference to the Runyan statement in any of their coverage since his untimely death.

There are, of course, other competitive dailies, including a string of Gannett papers that, in recent years, have been far more balanced in their coverage than either the Star-Ledger or the Inquirer.

Thus, the Adler story by Jane Roh which was posted by the Courier Post (in Camden County) included the reference to the Runyan statement.

Mr. Adler was a well-respected politician in New Jersey, and his passing was untimely and certainly a terrible loss for his family, including a wife and four young sons. At times like these, partisanship, especially from newspapers, should be firmly and completely set aside.

One would think that at least the newspapers would dispense with those kinds of really childish political slights. To me, the omissions by the Ledger and the Inquirer, as well as ignoring Jon's expressions of condolence by Politickernj, were likely occasioned by a stubborn unwillingness on their parts to even acknowledge a shared sense of humanity.

Under the circumstances, that was and is really inexcusable. But it is not likely to change.

I met John Adler a few years ago during a Networking Breakfast. He was always very open, honest and accommodating. He was one of those people who you knew was just a good person. His passing was inexcusable, and the world lost one of the good ones. Everyone needs to forget their politics here, he was just a good man. God Bless John.