Legislature set to meet for Thursday, Corzine stumps in district 14, state workers flood Gov’s office with angry phone calls, opponent says Kleinberg mailer, implies fake endorsements.
THERE WILL BE SOME LONG FACES
“Later this week, after all the votes are counted and the lawn signs start to come down, the real political fighting will begin.
Thursday — four months after lawmakers recessed to campaign for re-election — the state Senate and Assembly will issue quorum calls, a parliamentary summoning of all state lawmakers back to Trenton.
Don’t expect much action, though.
Legislative leaders have reserved the day for housekeeping and ceremony, including the swearing-in of three new lawmakers to finish out the terms of those who resigned or were indicted.
And even though the Statehouse “to do” list is longer than a campaign finance report, any real action will have to wait until mid-December — after the League of Municipalities convention, after the Thanksgiving holiday and after Chanukah, which comes early this year.
“There just aren’t that many free days between now and then,” Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) said.
The most important business Thursday — including a possible decision on whether to take up the governor’s plan to sell or lease the New Jersey Turnpike — will take place beyond the public view……….
Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance (R-Hunterdon) said he is concerned the languid pace of the summer will turn into a frenzy of bad legislation at the end of the year.
“The administration has studiously avoided announcing any details of its monetization plan,” Lance said. “My suspicion is that the details will magically appear during lame duck.”
Corzine insisted last week there is no agenda yet.
“I’d like to sit down, make sure we’re on the same page with the Senate president and the speaker, who have been very, very focused — as they should be — on the election,” Corzine said. “We need to get back into a dialog on appointments and a number of issues that started in the debate process before they went into recess for the elections.” (Howlett, Star-Ledger)
COMMON SENSE AMERICA BECOMES A CAMPAIGN ISSUE FOR DEMOCRATS
“Stumping throughout central Jersey on Sunday, Gov. Jon Corzine dismissed the recently formed Common Sense America as a closeted anti-gay group masquerading as a champion of fiscal conservatism.
In defiance of Fair and Clean Elections in the 14th district, the Princeton-based outfit has spent an estimated $450,000-worth of ads against Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein and by extension, her running mate, labor leader Wayne DeAngelo.
“It’s not going to end up having a major impact,” said Corzine, with Greenstein, DeAngelo and state Senate candidate Seema Singh, at his side in Hamilton’s Golden Dawn Diner.
“It’s not an issue that impacts here, unless you’re deeply interested in civil unions. People here are interested in other issues, like property tax relief,” the governor said.
The Republicans, state Senate candidate Assemblyman Bill Baroni and his running mates, Adam Bushman and Tom Goodwin, have denounced Common Sense America’s ads. But whatever happens on Election Day, “The results will be blemished,” lamented DeAngelo, who said the good faith work of the candidates in both parties to go out and amass at least 400 contributions of $10 apiece was thwarted by a third-party group.
Another factor in the district 14 race may prove to be the mayoral contest in Hamilton. That’s the district’s most populous town and one of the most politically driven muncipalities in the state. Two-term Democratic Mayor Glen Gilmore is trying to stave off the challenge of Republican businessman John Bencivengo.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
CORZINE’S POOR SECRETARY
“Last week, state workers flooded Gov. Corzine’s office with thousands of calls, intent on sending him a strong message.
It goes something like this: How DARE you?
The phone blitz, organized by union leaders, was prompted by Corzine’s announcement last Monday that state workers won’t get a paid day off on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Unlike in Pennsylvania, so-called Black Friday is not on the list of New Jersey official state holidays. But for decades, Garden State governors have nevertheless given the day to government workers – entrenching the four-day holiday weekend in tradition.
And tradition, of course, doesn’t die easily.
By week’s end, Corzine’s office had received almost 5,000 calls from angry state workers, according to his spokeswoman, Lilo Stainton.” (Moroz, Philadelphia Inquirer)
KLEINBERG’S IMAGINARY FRIENDS
“Mayor Robert Kleinberg is denying charges that a flier from his campaign falsely claimed endorsements from a number of state and regional celebrities, including radio host Jim Gearhart and U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Christopher J. Christie.
A flier mailed to township residents from Kleinberg’s campaign includes a number of compliments about the mayor from Gearhart, Christie and others. Kleinberg’s opponent in Tuesday’s mayoral election, Jon Hornik, claimed the comments are presented as endorsements.
Gearhart said Sunday he’s angry the flier included a picture of him and the logo of his station, New Jersey 101.5 FM.
But Kleinberg said he did nothing more than present comments from uninterested third parties attesting to his record as mayor.
“Nowhere in that flier does it say this was an endorsement by anybody,” Kleinberg said. “All we did was take things that people said or wrote to me during the years that I’ve been mayor. I stand by that 100 percent.”
Kleinberg appeared at the Asbury Park Press and played a tape of the conversations he had with Gearhart on the air, in which Gearhart says the comments included in the flier.
The mayor also showed the original letters from which other comments were taken.
Kleinberg’s protestations notwithstanding, Gearhart is angry enough over the flier that he canceled a scheduled day off today to come in and pillory Kleinberg.
“The clear implication is that I am in some way supporting his election,” Gearhart said Sunday. “There’s no way to get around that.”” (Bowman, Asbury Park Press)
UNTIL NOV. 7TH
“Mayor Glen D. Gilmore fired back yesterday at critics who have accused him of withholding the township’s financial information for the sake of his re-election.
In an e-mail to The Times, Gilmore accused the Republican members of the council of attempting to mislead voters by forcing the release of the township’s annual financial statement before it is complete.
“Earlier this year, we had a $4.3 million dollar sewer emergency when a large, old section of a sewer line collapsed,” Gilmore’s e-mail said. The mayor said the state has said the township could expense that cost over a number of years rather than hitting taxpayers with the bill all at once. “Republicans know this, but want us to release an earlier version that doesn’t reflect this. … That would be inaccurate and they know it.”
But council members have said repeatedly that the unreleased financial statement is merely a snapshot of the township’s financial health as of June 30, 2007 when the last fiscal year ended. Without it, the public cannot be sure what to expect in the coming year.
By not releasing it to the public, they said, Gilmore is attempting to hide a tax increase that could approach 25 percent. The administration has denied any increase would be that high. ” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)
AS BIG A DEAL AS THIS ELECTION SEEMS TO POLITICSNJ.COM READERS, REMEMBER THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T REALLY CARE
“With few exceptions, voters shouldn’t expect much of a crowd when they cast their ballots Tuesday.
Interest will be low, because there are no national or statewide offices up for election. Instead, each voter gets a chance to decide on state Senate and Assembly races in one of 40 legislative districts.
Although four ballot questions are being asked statewide, only one, on stem cell research, has generated much interest.
Also at stake is control of the Legislature. Democrats now control both houses, with a 22-18 edge in the Senate, and a 50-30 advantage in the Assembly.
State officials will not issue a prediction on turnout. Party officials don’t think it will be much different from 2003 — the last time the state Legislature was the top of the ticket — when only 34 percent of registered voters cast ballots.
By comparison, the last presidential election had a 73 percent turnout and the 2005 governor’s race had a turnout of about 49 percent.” (AP)
REPUBLICANS: “WE’RE NOT JUST GOING TO GO QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT”
“Democrats will try to defy historical trends and strengthen their hold on the Legislature while Republicans hope to restore a measure of political balance to New Jersey government in statewide elections Tuesday.
All 120 legislative seats are up for grabs, but with most of the 40 legislative districts drawn heavily in favor of one party, only a few races are in doubt. Political insiders on both sides of the aisle expect Democrats to maintain control of both houses of the Legislature and likely expand their slim Senate majority.
Despite their long odds, Republicans may build their party’s muscle with an influx of new voices into the Senate, a chamber where Democrats, despite holding a narrow 22-18 margin, have generally pushed their agenda through with few speed bumps along the way.
At least eight Republican Senate seats will be changing hands, with at least six expected to be filled by Republicans now in the Assembly. The newcomers are a generally younger, vocal group coming from a house where minority Republicans have recently shown more fight, even while outnumbered.
“We’re not just going to go quietly into the night,” said Assemblyman Kevin J. O’Toole, R-Essex, one of the lawmakers expected to move from the Assembly to Senate. He said Republicans would try to work with Democrats but draw a line when it comes to ethics and the state budget. “You’re going to hear us loud and clearly, and we’re going to be out standing on top of our desks if we have to.”” (Tamari, Gannett)
LANCE AND KEAN BOTH SPREAD THEIR MONEY AROUND
“While spending only $13,000 on his own race, Sen. Leonard Lance has poured nearly $100,000 into the campaigns of his Republican colleagues.
Four of the races likely will decide which party controls the state Senate in January. For now, Democrats hold a slim 22-18 majority.
Lance has sent $8,200 each to Sen. Nicholas Asselta in the 1st Legislative District, Sen. Sonny McCullough in the 2nd District, Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck in the 12th and candidate Phil Haines in the 8th District.
He’s also sent money to Republican Sen. Gerald Cardinale, Sen. Diane Allen and Assemblyman Sean Kean, who is vying for a Senate seat.
Those contributions come amid reports that Lance could be ousted as Senate minority leader in January in favor of a former U.S. Senate candidate, state Sen. Tom Kean Jr.
“My concentration is on Tuesday’s election,” said Lance, R-Hunterdon/Warren. “Sen. Kean has never mentioned that to me.”
Kean of Union, has funneled $70,000 to other Republicans.
For his part, Kean said: “I support those candidates that realized that Trenton is broken and I support those candidates who are fighting and will fight to reform the system.”
He said his focus is on Tuesday’s race as well. ” (Graber, Express-Times)
IN THAT COUNTY DOWN BY DELAWARE
“The countdown is drawing near its end. Will the Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders be controlled completely be the Democrat Party, or will Republican minority representation remain?
The answer will come tomorrow as thousands of residents make their way to polling locations across the county to cast their vote for the two open seats on the freeholder board. Voters will choose from Democrat Lee Ware, the current freeholder director, and his running mate Pittsgrove Mayor Pete Voros, incumbent Republican Freeholder Julie Acton and her running mate, Alloway Mayor Joe Fedora.
Each party held rally campaign dinners this weekend and candidates continued their last-minute campaigning door to door.
Now it’s just up to the 40,751 registered voters in Salem County to make the decision.
Not that all those people will vote last year’s General Election drew a little more than one quarter of that number.
There are actually a little more than 65,000 residents in the county, but of them, 9,639 are registered Democrat, 7,187 are Republican, and 23,925 are unaffiliated, according to the Salem County Board of Elections.
So whether people vote down party lines or not, it’s those unaffiliated voters who can make all the difference.
“As a longtime coach, you always go into every game like you’re 20 points behind,” Ware said of the last stretch. “So we’re working very hard.”” (Moore, Today’s Sunbeam)
IF COLLEGE DOESN’T WORK OUT, SHE’LL ALWAYS FIND WORK WITH STEVE LONEGAN
“As an undocumented immigrant, Mirasol Conde-Hernandez wasn’t eligible for financial aid and had to turn down the offer to attend Rutgers University.
Instead, the 20-year-old from Mexico now works 40 to 50 hours a week while attending Middlesex Community College in Edison full-time, but still dreams of a future when New Jersey will offer undocumented immigrants the kind of financial assistance other students receive.
Yesterday, Conde-Hernandez was one of nearly 1,500 housing and social justice activists from across the Garden State to fill a Somerset church and demand action from legislators on a common reform agenda.
Speakers called for more school funding for at-risk districts, elimination of Regional Contribution Agreements and a chance for higher education opportunities for undocumented immigrants.
“Because I am Mexican by birth, and because my parents had the courage to leave their homes at only 20 years old in pursuit of a better future for me, I am stuck,” Conde-Hernandez told the crowd. “I refuse to allow this to be a shattered dream.”
Clapping and at times rising from their seats at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens were members of the New Jersey Regional Coalition, an alliance of congregations, community development and social justice organizations.
The coalition also wants undocumented immigrants who live in New Jersey to be allowed to pay in-state tuition to attend its state colleges and universities. This affects about 600 undocumented New Jersey students every year, said Marlene Lao-Collins, director of a public policy organization for Catholic Bishops in New Jersey.
“In order for them to go to college, they have to pay double — in some cases triple — tuition,” she added. “It’s a dream that they want to accomplish. This is the way not to lose that intellectual capital in our state.”” (O’Connor, Star-Ledger)
SHARPTON COMES TO NEWARK
“The Rev. Al Sharpton talked about James Brown, the Jena 6, nooses and the N-word as examples of the continuing plight of African-Americans as he whipped a packed crowd at the Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Newark yesterday afternoon into a frenzy. People leapt out of their pews and shouted.
People leapt out of their pews and shouted. A few stood swaying as tears ran down their cheeks. Other attendees cheered and shouted “hallelujah.”
The pastor, the Rev. Milton Biggham, had asked Sharpton to come as a guest speaker and to help church member Roxanne Gallemore, whose son was beaten to death in 2003……………
Gallemore’s son, 19-year-old Lamonte Gallemore, was arrested on a theft charge and taken to the jail annex in North Caldwell when he was assaulted during a Crips initiation in which he voluntarily participated, according to authorities.
After filing a $4 million lawsuit against Essex County for negligence, Roxanne Gallemore hopes that Sharpton can help her cause.
“I want to see what he can do,” Gallemore said after the sermon. “He helps everybody out.” ” (Adarlo, Star-Ledger)
“PHILLIPSBURG | Humongous Harry is back.
After removing two large campaign banners in response to complaints they violated town code, Mayor Harry Wyant has put them both back.
One of the banners is 6 feet high by 25 feet wide in Union Square. The second, similar-sized sign, hangs from a building on Route 22 at Morris Street.
Wyant said he removed the signs Oct. 27 after coming to an agreement with critic Reggie Regrut that Wyant would take them down if Regrut didn’t write to The Express-Times. Wyant said Regrut broke the agreement when a letter of his ran in the newspaper Oct. 28.
Regrut, a Phillipsburg watchdog, said the banners violate a town code disallowing any political signs larger than 9 square feet. Wyant’s signs are at least 150 square feet.
“I agreed to take it down if Mr. Regrut wasn’t going to write anything but he did anyway,” Wyant said Sunday. “I figured for the parade, I could put it back up for some publicity.”” (Olanoff, Express-Times)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – NEWS FROM THE WEEKEND
WHELAN, VAN DREW LEAD
“A poll of area voters finds trouble for Republicans in the closely watched state Senate races in the 1st and 2nd legislative districts, although the contest between Jeff Van Drew and Nicholas Asselta in the 1st District is very close.
Democrat Van Drew, an assemblyman, was preferred by survey participants over Republican state Sen. Nicholas Asselta 45 percent to 42 percent. That difference is within the 5-point margin of error, so the race in Cape May, Cumberland and part of Atlantic counties is winable for Asselta. Still, it’s not good news for an incumbent to be trailing less than a week before the Nov. 6 election.
Voters prefer Democrat James Whelan over incumbent Republican state Sen. James “Sonny” Mc-Cullough by a 50-37 percent margin, ac-cording to the Zogby International poll jointly commissioned by The Press of Atlantic City and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Less than 10 percent were undecided.
The poll shows McCullough‘s Republican running mates for Assembly, Vince Polistina and John Amodeo, ahead of Democrats Joseph Wilkins and Blondell Spellman in the 2nd District covering most of Atlantic County.
Randomly selected participants in the poll, conducted Wednesday and Thursday, said they expected to split their votes in the 1st District Assembly race. Incumbent Democrat Nelson Albano, followed by Republican challenger Michael
Donohue, led Republican R. Norris Clark and Democrat Matthew Milam.” (Froonjian, Press of Atlantic City)
AS THE LIKELY SUCCESSOR TO SHARPE JAMES, TERESA RUIZ WILL HAVE SOME BIG CUFFS TO FILL
“Gov. Jon Corzine, campaigning throughout New Jersey for various Democratic candidates for the state Legislature, yesterday joined a team of prominent Essex County Democrats supporting Teresa Ruiz for Sharpe James’ seat in the Senate.
Speaking on a street corner in Newark’s North Ward, Corzine said Ruiz, along with Assembly candidates Grace Spencer and Albert Coutinho, would bring diversity, fresh eyes and a strong voice to the 29th District.
“There’s a lot of great things going on all over the state of New Jersey,” Corzine said to a crowd of about 50 people on the corner of Elwood and Mount Prospect avenues three days before Election Day. “But nowhere is there more commitment to civic life than here in the North Ward.”
The district also includes parts of Newark’s Central, South and East wards and Hillside in Union County.
James, the former Newark mayor who has been indicted on federal corruption charges, decided not to run for re-election as a state lawmaker after eight years in the Senate. County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and other leading Essex Democrats have backed Ruiz, 33, who is DiVincenzo’s deputy chief of staff and the county’s director of public information.
Ruiz’s opponents, Assemblyman William Payne (D-Essex) and Newark Councilman Luis Quintana, are both running as independents.” (Steele, Star-Ledger)
“They’ve spent millions of dollars bombarding you with 30-second television spots and shiny, colorful mail glorifying their candidates while bashing their opponents.
Now brace yourself for phone calls and maybe a knock on your door to remind you to get to the polls.
With legislative elections just two days off, the parties are shifting attention to the final stage of the campaign: getting out the vote (GOTV).
This year’s effort will be far less ambitious than those in years when presidential or gubernatorial candidates headline the ticket. Parties typically spend several million dollars during those campaigns and often push turnout above 60 percent.
With no major statewide candidate and no burning issues, party officials this year are expecting turnout to sink to between 33 percent and 35 percent. That would rival the record low of 31 percent in 1999, when only state Assembly candidates were seeking office. Statewide turnout averaged 34 percent in 2003, the last year when all 120 lawmakers ran for re-election.
“If any district goes above 38 percent, I’ll be real surprised,” said Tom Wilson, chairman of the Republican State Committee.
In some urban districts, turnout could even dip into the teens, officials acknowledge. “The bottom line is our larger urban areas don’t have competitive races,” said Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-Union), chairman of the Democratic State Committee,”
Cryan said his party will invest about $500,000 to $1 million statewide to lure voters to polling booths. Wilson couldn’t give a corresponding figure but said the GOP in key districts will be relying on a brigade of BlackBerry-toting volunteers. Those loyalists will monitor polling places and let volunteers know what voters they need to cajole as Election Day unfolds.” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)
HARNESSING THE POWER OF THE INTERNETS
“In his campaign for the state Senate, Assemblyman Bill Baroni is campaigning the old-fashioned way– knocking on more than 7,000 doors in his district in Middlesex and Mercer counties.
But the Republican is also taking his campaign to cyberspace with a slick Web site, online videos and e-mailed newsletters to voters. His supporters in the 14th District are chronicling his campaign on local blogs and have even started a “Students for Bill Baroni” group on the social-networking site Facebook that has attracted more than 150 members.
“It has clearly paid off,” said Baroni, who faces off against Democrat Seema Singh Tuesday. “As a candidate for office, you’d better be in the medium voters are looking at.”
This year, the presidential candidates are getting a lot of attention for experimenting with YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, blogging, Twitter and other Internet trends to reach voters. But as Election Day approaches, a few candidates in New Jersey also are dabbling in the new world of e-campaigning.
In South Jersey, 3rd District voters can go to state Assembly candidate Phil Donohue’s MySpace page to read his campaign blog or watch the quirky campaign commercials he posted on YouTube.
In Monmouth County, voters in the high-profile 12th District state Senate race can watch Democrat Ellen Karcher’s latest campaign ad on her Facebook page or donate to Republican Jennifer Beck’s campaign on her Web site.” (Heyboer, Star-Ledger)
DEMOCRATS’ GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
“It’s almost over.
The two most expensive legislative contests this region has ever seen, two races that should determine which political party controls this region for the next decade, will fall into voters’ hands in two days.
Up for grabs are six legislative seats – two in the Senate and four in the Assembly – and one county executive post.
The two Senate races rank among the top three most expensive in the state, each topping the $2 million spending mark before the final week television ad blitz. Both races offer a rare showdown between incumbent legislators.
The race in the 1st District, which includes most of Atlantic County, pits former Atlantic City mayor Assemblyman Jim Whelan, a Democrat, against the longtime mayor of Egg Harbor Township, Republican state Sen. James “Sonny” McCullough.
The race in the 2nd District, which includes all of Cape May County and parts of Cumberland and Atlantic counties, features two veteran legislators, Republican state Sen. Nicholas Asselta of Vineland and Democratic Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew of Dennis Township.
The Atlantic County executive race also features a pair of proven vote-getters, Republican incumbent Dennis Levinson and Democratic Atlantic County Sherriff James McGettigan.
As for the two state Assembly contests, for that you may need a scorecard. The eight candidates combined total two years of experience in the state Legislature. Four of the eight have never held elected office.
But take a step back, and this year’s races are about more than the candidates. They are about two political parties – a Republican Party that has controlled the southern New Jersey shore area for more than two decades and a Democratic Party that will spend anywhere from $6 million to $8 million to wrest control away.
For Democrats, there may never be a better opportunity than 2007 to take over the political reins of a region that only a decade ago appeared off-limits.” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)
“The Republicans will be outspent by 3 to 1. There will be more female legislators than ever before. Voter turnout, once again, will be abysmal. And, barring some 11th-hour development of “Dewey Defeats Truman” magnitude, the Democrats will retain — and perhaps expand — their hold on the Assembly and the Senate.
So goes the conventional wisdom as New Jersey voters head to the polls on Tuesday to select a new Legislature.
In years past, legislative elections have pivoted on an issue or on the popularity of a sitting governor. The textbook case, at least in recent years, occurred in 1991, when voters unhappy with Gov. Jim Florio’s initiatives on taxes, education and guns turned a Democratic majority in both houses into veto-proof majorities for the Republicans.
This year, though, is different. Gov. Jon S. Corzine enjoys decent approval ratings, so Republicans are not using him as a punching bag the way Democrats have learned to love President Bush during campaign season. And though residents are tired of corruption and high taxes and say they are leery of Mr. Corzine’s much-anticipated plan to squeeze more money out of the New Jersey Turnpike, recent polls indicate that no single issue has galvanized the public.” (Chen, New York Times)
“No matter what voters have to say Tuesday, there will be at least 13 new senators and 27 new Assembly members next year in Trenton.
The turnover in the 120-member Legislature will rival the 1973 Watergate-era blowout, when Republicans lost 39 seats, and the shake-up of 1991, when voters tossed out 31 Democrats after the Legislature backed Gov. Jim Florio’s tax hikes.
This time, corruption is the striking theme, with incumbents who are simply retiring or seeking higher office joined by others facing criminal problems………..
While crimes make the headlines, ambition – which puts the beat in the hearts of politicians – is causing much of the turnover in the Assembly: 14 members are trying to move to the Senate. Most hope to replace retiring or legally entangled senators, but three are going after incumbents in Atlantic, Cape May and Monmouth Counties, creating the toughest and most expensive races in the state.
Ambition also got the better of a few in the June primary. Two Assembly members – one Republican and one Democrat – lost trying to replace retiring senators. Three other Democrats fell under the hammers of political bosses who ran victorious candidates against them.
Alan Rosenthal, a Rutgers University political scientist and expert on the Legislature, said that “the real new blood will be in the Assembly,” noting that new senators will tend to be former Assembly members with at least some institutional memory.” (Burton, Philadelphia Inquirer)
“”That’s a lot of new members for the party leadership to absorb,” said Peter Woolley, a Fairleigh Dickinson University political scientist. “It’s always interesting to see how the old guard gets on with newcomers.”
The reasons for the turnover vary.
At least five lawmakers either resigned or decided not to seek re-election amid federal corruption inquires. Six lost primary elections. Others opted to turn their attention elsewhere after decades of service.
“All good things must come to and end,” said 72-year-old Sen. Hank McNamara, R-Bergen, who’s been in the Senate for 22 years. “It’s time to retire.””
IF ONLY THEY COULD BE THE LAST
“A few of the 40 legislators leaving the New Jersey Senate and Assembly are going because they’ve been indicted, arrested, or subjected to a criminal investigation, often for cheating the taxpayers they were elected to protect.
Sen. Wayne Bryant (D., Camden) was indicted in March on charges he used his position as Budget Committee chair to steer millions in state aid to the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s School of Osteopathic Medicine, in Stratford, in exchange for a no-show job. The federal government also accused him of holding two other publicly funded no-show jobs: one as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University-Camden and the other representing the Gloucester County Board of Social Services. He pleaded not guilty.
Sen. Joseph Coniglio (D., Bergen) acknowledged in July that he received a letter from the U.S. Attorney’s Office informing him that he is the target of a criminal investigation. The office is investigating whether Coniglio and other legislators used their positions to steer state money to companies or charities in which they had a financial interest. Investigators subpoenaed records involving Coniglio’s relationship with Hackensack University Hospital, where he was paid as a plumbing-and-construction consultant. Coniglio has denied any wrongdoing.
Sen. Sharpe James (D., Essex), a former Newark mayor, was indicated in July and accused of selling city land at discount prices to friends who made huge profits and donated to his political campaigns, and of charging personal trips and other expenses on his government credit card. He pleaded not guilty.
Sen. Martha Bark (R., Burlington) said she would not seek reelection in March in the midst of a state attorney general investigation into her two government part-time jobs. She had worked at the Burlington County Institute of Technology and the Burlington County Bridge Commission. Little documentation was available on work she performed. She has denied any wrongdoing.
Assemblyman Mims Hackett (D., Essex) was arrested in September on allegations that he took a $5,000 bribe in a federal roofing and insurance contract sting. He soon resigned under pressure from state party leaders but held on to his job as mayor of Orange. He pleaded not guilty.
Assemblyman Alfred Steele (D., Passaic), arrested in September in the same sting, pleaded guilty Oct. 19 to taking a $15,500 bribe in exchange for helping the phony companies get contracts with the City of Paterson and its school district and housing authority.” (Burton, Star-Ledger)
TOM MORAN ON CAMPAIGN HIGHS AND LOWS
“In the days before political consultants roamed the earth, John Adams of Massachusetts risked his career on a matter of principle.
Nine British soldiers had been charged with murder after the Boston Massacre, and Adams agreed to defend them as a matter of basic fairness. He showed at trial that the shootings were provoked by a drunken mob, and in the end, just two were convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter.”
Maybe the Republicans in Burlington County never heard that story. They’ve been blasting a Democratic candidate because her husband was assigned by a federal judge to represent one of the defendants in the Fort Dix terror case.
“Whose values will she represent in Trenton?” a GOP mailer asks. “Ours? Or theirs?”
The point, it seems, is that terror suspects don’t deserve attorneys. It’s Guantánamo rules, here in Jersey. Step back and look at this year’s campaign, and you can count plenty of low moments like that.
It’s been painful to watch poor Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) try to explain away his repeated donations to psychotic anti-Semite Lyndon LaRouche.
“I knew LaRouche to be kind of a nut case, to be extreme,” Johnson says. “But I didn’t know about the anti-Semitism. I apologize for that.”
By that logic, it’s okay to donate money to a nut case, as long as he’s not a bigot………..
Democrats built another 3-1 money advantage this year, thanks to the sleazy fundraising tactics they promised to quit years ago. They may be hypocrites, but they are consistent.
And look how they used their money: Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth) attacked her opponent’s spotty driving record last week with a mass mailing calling her worse than Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. Nyah, nyah. ” (Moran, Star-Ledger)
STILE ON GIULIANI, DISTRICTS 37 AND 38
New York Yankees executives have an added reason for being upset with Republican Rudy Giuliani’s blasphemous decision to root for the archenemy Red Sox in last month’s World Series with the Colorado Rockies.
Yankees brass, including principal owner George Steinbrenner, have donated a combined $13,500 to Giuliani’s campaign for president, according to campaignmoney.com, which tracks contributions to federal candidates.
Apparently, campaign cash and all those field-level box seats near the Yankees dugout are not enough to buy the former New York mayor’s undying loyalty.
Red Sox officials, meanwhile, haven’t given him a dime. But they have donated $5,500 to several Democratic candidates. Representatives of the Yankees and the Giuliani campaign did not respond to requests for interviews.
Just spell his name right
“There’s one candidate in Hasbrouck Heights who doesn’t need an “intro.” But he still would prefer that his name be spelled correctly.
A recent mailer touts District 38 Democratic Senate candidate Bob Gordon of Fair Lawn and his running mates, Assemblywoman Joan Voss of Fort Lee and Assembly candidate Connie Wagner of Paramus, as part of the “Hasbrouck Heights Team” that also includes three Democratic candidates for local office. One small problem: The name of one of those teammates, Councilman Leonard Introna, was listed as “Leonard Intro-.” “They ran out of space with my name,” Introna said. “I don’t know what happened………
Clean Elections footnote: Sen. Loretta Weinberg of Teaneck says she didn’t have an easy time persuading 37th District voters to part with $10 apiece for the Clean Elections campaign program.” (Stile, Bergen Record)
IN OTHER NEWS, ROSS PEROT IS STILL ALIVE
Former presidential candidate Ross Perot came to the defense of a Cape May County Assembly candidate Saturday, debunking a campaign mailer that claims his former spokesman wants to raise the gas tax.
Perot contacted The Press of Atlantic City from Texas to vouch for 1st District Assembly candidate Norris Clark. A series of mailers from the campaign of Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, claim Clark wants to raise the gas tax 50 cents. The ads rely on Clark’s former position with Perot as the basis for the claim.
“If that ever came up (a gas tax), that’s not something Norris came up with or had anything to do with,” Perot said. “Norris is a man of absolute integrity. I’ve worked with a lot of great people in my life, and he’s one of them. He epitomizes the role model you’d like to have running for office.”
“Clark served as a volunteer for Perot’s presidential campaign in 1992, when Perot advocated a gas-tax hike. Clark went on to work for Perot as a spokesman for his 1996 presidential run and was the national spokesman for Perot’s group United We Stand.” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)
“When New Jersey voters go to the polls to pick their state legislators Tuesday, their choices will include more than a dozen Senate and Assembly candidates who hold another elected office.
Dual officeholding at the state level is being phased out. But, a law banning the practice affects only politicians elected after Feb. 1, 2008. Those already in the Legislature are grandfathered in, so they can keep their second job as council member, mayor or freeholder for as long as they keep getting elected, even if they seek re-election to the Legislature.
We feel that anybody who holds two offices is preventing somebody else from holding one, and that’s bad for democracy,” said Jon Shure, president of New Jersey Policy Perspective, a think-tank that authored a report on the topic titled, “One to a Customer.”
The report, issued last year, recommended a total ban on dual officeholding, with no grandfathering, though Shure said he supported the partial ban enacted this year because “something’s better than nothing.”
Sixteen incumbents in the Legislature who are running for re-election hold a second elected position.
Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, is mayor of Wood-Ridge. Sen. Steve Sweeney, D-Cumberland, is a Gloucester County freeholder. Assemblyman Joe Vas, D-Middlesex, is mayor of Perth Amboy. His colleague, Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Essex, is mayor of West Orange.
The list goes on.” (Delli Santi, AP)
CODEY V. GIULIANI
“State Senate President Richard Codey reminded seniors at the East Windsor Senior Center today that his protégé in the senate, district 12 Sen. Ellen Karcher, fought corruption in her hometown and persisted in the face of applications for burial plots sent to her by men who are now in jail.
“That’s the kind of person you want representing you in the state senate,” said Codey, who insisted he’s not a boss, just a guy who’s always disliked bullies and who’s willing to put money down on a candidate he believes is a good public servant – and a good Democrat.
All week long the insider talk was Codey versus Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom Karcher’s opponent, Republican Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck, welcomed to Manalapan yesterday to bang the party tom toms of small government and property tax relief.
“They’re bringing in their big guns,” said Codey. “I wasn’t mayor of New York during 9-11. Ok. He’s got me there. But he wants to be president. I’m already president of the state senate.”
East Windsor senior Jack Klosky served in an anti-aircraft regiment in WW II, and he recalls looking up once from the back of his half-track near the Rhine River and seeing General George S. Patton approaching in a Jeep.
“It was a Jeep that day, but he was partial to white horses, you know?” Klosky said of the late general. Today the 89-year-old sat at one of the tables in the back of the senior center, when he was informed that Codey had entered the room and was working the small crowd.
“I can’t see him, I’m blind,” said Klosky. “All I would say is that when it comes to taxes, most of these politicians go on talking for too long and it’s then you realize they don’t know what they’re talking about.” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
“THERE’S A CERTAIN LINE THAT YOU DO NOT CROSS, AND THEY CROSSED IT”
“State Assemblyman Nelson Albano doesn’t usually let negative campaign fliers get to him.
But one did.
A campaign flier recently sent out by his opponents in the 1st District state Assembly race accused Albano of voting for millions of dollars in “tax increases.”
Among the pieces of legislation the flier listed was a bill Albano supported to create a $20 surcharge for people convicted of drunken driving. T
he money goes toward a drunken-driving prevention and education program, Albano said. It’s a topic close to the assemblyman’s heart.
It’s a topic close to the assemblyman’s heart.
In December 2001, Albano’s 19-year-old son, Michael, was killed by a drunken driver with four previous drunken-driving convictions.
“There’s a certain line that you do not cross, and they crossed it,” Albano said in an interview Friday. “I’ve never seen such desperate people do such desperate things.”” (Zatzariny, Daily Journal)
“Last-minute mailer. Check. Schedule for final day of door knocking. Check. Election night party catered, victory and concession speeches prepared. Check and check.
It’s game time.
As the campaign season draws to a close for yet another year, candidates for local and state offices are furiously preparing for the final push that will see them through to Tuesday at 8 p.m., when the polls close and the votes are tallied.
All 120 seats are up for election in the state Legislature and several seats are likely to change hands. Races have heated up locally in the 12th, 14th and 15th Districts, where candidates say they are exhausted but ready for the final campaign push.
Though there is no national race to drive turnout, local races may be enough to drive voters as several popular candidates are on area ballots.
Political watchers are eyeing key races at the county level where two Mercer County freeholder seats and the county executive post are up for grabs. ” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)
OR MAYBE LESS LIKE ROOTING OUT AND MORE LIKE MOWING THE LAWN
“New Jersey, where corruption is being rooted out, is on pace to challenge a Pennsylvania record that fueled a massive voter revolt three decades ago.
New Jersey: At least 160 public officials have been fingered for criminal corruption since 2002.
Pennsylvania: About 270 public officials were slapped with corruption charges in a four-year period in the late 1970s. But voter vengeance has not followed in New Jersey.
Heading into Tuesday’s elections, voters here have waged no wholesale war against incumbents, despite polls showing they are disgusted with corruption and unhappy with their 120-person Legislature.
Only a handful of incumbents face a serious challenge statewide – even though the Democratic-controlled Legislature’s approval rating recently dropped to 30 percent.
It is a contradiction that befuddles even the experts. Some say New Jersey voters are too “cynical” to make a difference on Election Day. Others say the state’s county political bosses are so influential in state elections that effective, grass-roots voter movements seldom take hold.” (Panataris, Philadelphia Inquirer)
GO PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK
“Planning to vote on Tuesday? If so, you’re probably among Shore area residents who feel most strongly about the issues at stake this year, and are driven by their sense of citizenship.
Like Melissa Worrell, of Ocean Township, who says she will be drawn to the polls by the state ballot question on whether or not to approve $450 million for stem-cell research.
“I do think that’s important,” she said Saturday, voicing her support for the proposal. “They do need to do more research and find out if they can prevent diseases like Parkinson’s.
The stem-cell proposal is among four ballot questions before voters Tuesday, in addition to some contentious local and legislative races in an election that will determine the balance of power in the Legislature.
Democrats control the state Senate, 22-18, and the Assembly, 50-30. All 120 legislative seats are up for election.
Approving another ballot question — on whether the state should borrow $200 million to preserve open space — is the way to go, according to a group of people who gathered Saturday at a rally in Long Branch to save the Takanassee Beach Club from redevelopment.” (Biese and Patberg, Asbury Park Press)
“With no major race at stake, politicians and pundits say voters will probably sit out the upcoming elections.
But many issues that have an impact on voters’ daily lives — and pocketbooks — will be directly affected by decisions made in the voting booth on Tuesday. Here are six reasons to get to the polls and exercise your right to vote.” (Brubaker, Herald News)
THE BATTLE FOR THE FOURTH WARD
“A simple assault charge filed against City Council candidate Dawn Zimmer by the brother of a rival campaign worker will not be heard in Hoboken, her attorney said yesterday.
The lawyer, Roberta Tarkan, went to Municipal Court Thursday and was granted a change of venue because Zimmer served on the council for a time.
“No judge in Hoboken could be a part of this case,” Tarkan said yesterday. “She was part of a governing body and may be returning again to be part of that governing body that appoints the municipal judges.”
No place or date has been set for the charge to be heard, Tarkan said.
The complaint against Zimmer was filed by 18-year-old Matthew Calicchio, who alleged that she roughly grabbed his right arm to prevent him from taking pictures of her on the street last month. Zimmer denies the charge, calling the accusation “outrageous.”
Zimmer did say, however, that she felt threatened by the 6-foot-tall, broad-shouldered teen. She has since filed a countercomplaint of harassment. ” (Baldwin, Jersey Journal)
THERE ACTUALLY ARE A FEW REPUBLICANS IN HUDSON COUNTY
“If it wasn’t for the Hudson County Republican Party, its chairman Jose Arango says, voters looking to back serious candidates would be forced to vote for Democrats.
“Here in Hudson County, it’s like we have a dictatorship, because we only have one party,” Arango said. “The problems that we have today in Hudson County, (you) can’t blame George Bush for those.”
Some Republican politicos admit that not even the fractious Democratic primary in June created enough chaos for a shot at getting their candidates into office.
Though he says Republicans are running on a platform combining affordable housing and job creation with immigration reform – “If we didn’t have a lot of those guys here,” he said last week, referring to illegal immigrants, “we wouldn’t have anybody to wash the dishes in the restaurants, we wouldn’t have anybody to pick the tomatoes in the field” – Arango admits his party is, to be kind, an underdog in Tuesday’s elections.
Democrats in Hudson County enjoy an overwhelming registration advantage and rarely face serious Republican challenges in general elections.
But regardless of the odds, this year’s Republican candidates remain defiant. ” (Judd, Jersey Journal)
“Well, so much for Hudson County’s attempt to do the right thing and get money back from disgraced former County Executive Robert Janiszewski, who extorted money from vendors for government contracts. Yesterday, United States District Court Judge Joel Pisano tossed out the $26.8 million civil case, mainly because the county waited too long to take legal action.
Pisano also junked Dr. Oscar Sandoval’s legal action against the county. Sandoval, who was video and audio taping everyone for the FBI – including Janiszewski – claimed the county retaliated against him by not renewing or accepting his bids for a public contract for psychiatric services. This was also a statue of limitations decision.
The current county administration took a chance by betting hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal costs that it could win back the millions lost to corruption. In 2003, the law firm of Schwartz, Simon and Edelstein was hired to bring the case to court.
Pisano said the county should have known all about Janiszewski’s racketeering scheme on Sept. 7, 2001, about the time when everyone in the county realized the county executive disappeared and every newspaper in the metropolitan area wrote that he was cooperating with the FBI. The lawsuit was filed Jan. 23, 2006, more than four months after the four-year limitation ran out.
Legal fees for the county ran in the $300,000 to $400,000 range, while Janiszewski represented himself. ” (Torres, Jersey Journal)
“HAMILTON — The race for the mayor of this township of 90,000 residents is a hallmark one as Republicans hope to regain the seat they held for two decades, while the Democratic incumbent seeks a third term and the momentum to restart the stalled ascension of his party.
Democratic Mayor Glen D. Gilmore has been sparring with Republican challenger John Bencivengo for the better part of the past year as both men have sought to sway the thousands of unaligned voters in the township.
t stake is the township’s top elected post, considered by many to be the crown jewel of Mercer County politics.
Gilmore carries two terms with him into the campaign along with a decided advantage in fundraising. He is an attorney and a former municipal prosecutor. He has a strong base in the area labor unions and registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the township by nearly 2-to-1.
He has spent the campaign touting his record on crime and taxes and has promised to continue to run the township as he has for the past eight years. If re- elected, he said, he will focus his efforts on economic growth and safety.
Bencivengo is running for his first elected office after years as a private businessman. He brings with him his experience running his own business and several years as the executive director of the Hamilton Partnership, a private group of business leaders concerned with economic growth. ” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)
“HAMILTON — Mayor Glen D. Gilmore is set to appeal Friday’s ruling that would pave the way for the release of the annual financial statement to the council, and he has ordered the document kept private until the appellate court has ruled.
Gilmore’s move is the latest in a heated battle between the council and his administration over the release of the financial statement, which is a snapshot of the township’s financial picture as of the close of the last fiscal year on June 30.” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)
IN HUNTERDON COUNTY
“Races for the sheriff’s office and two freeholder seats top the ballot in Hunterdon County elections this year, but municipal contests in a dozen towns also are keeping the political season busy.
From Clinton, where a Democratic mayor and two Republican council members are seeking re-election, to Flemington, where full slates of candidates are sparring for three spots on the borough council, election signs have cropped up on lawns, and candidates are knocking on residents’ doors.
In 14 towns, however, local elected offices will go uncontested on Tuesday. In most of those, Republicans are the party running unopposed.
“That’s more or less normal. In the municipalities, there’s usually 12 to 15 contested races,” said Hunterdon County GOP Chairman Henry Kuhl. “We assume most Republicans will win.” ” (Rundquist, Star-Ledger)
IN SOMERSET COUNTY
“As last-minute contributions pour into campaign accounts, Somerset County Republicans are maintaining their traditional fund-raising edge over Democrats.
Over the last year, the county Republican committee reported donations of $485,510 in its filings with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. Somerset Democrats listed $118,247 in the same period.” (Tyrell, Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 24
“Pilot “clean elections,” newcomer Democrats and the emergence of unaffiliated candidates are giving a different look to races in two of New Jersey’s reddest Republican counties.
Topping the Sussex ballot are the publicly-financed clean elections for state Senate and Assembly in the 24th District, where public grants significantly narrowed the usually cavernous gap in campaign funds between the dominant GOP and underdog Democratic party.” (Frassinelli and Lockwood, Star-Ledger)
IN DISTRICT 3
“The race for state Senate and Assembly in the 3rd Legislative District hasn’t been quite as hotly contested as its neighbor to the east.
Democrats there have raised more than 50 times as much money as the Republicans in this district, which spans Salem, western Cumberland and lower Gloucester counties. Democrats Sen. Steve Sweeney and Assemblymen Doug Fisher and John Burzichelli have run primarily on their record as incumbents.
They have backed the open-space referendum on the ballot Nov. 6 and have spotlighted a few local key issues, most notably their opposition of a sex offenders facility in Bridgeton and their successful lobbying efforts to fast-track repairs of the collapsed Landis Avenue bridge over Rainbow Lake.” (Walsh, Press of Atlantic City)
IN BURLINGTON COUNTY
“The 2007 general election is just two days away and Republicans appear to have a real battle on their hands in several key races in Burlington County.
Democrats are hoping to turn the traditional Republican tide in hotly contested races for state Senate and Assembly seats in the 8th Legislative District and the county Board of Freeholders and sheriff.
Burlington County Democratic Chairman Rick Perr said his party is confident it can build on recent victories in Mount Laurel and Evesham municipal races.
“Despite what the Republicans like to broadcast, Burlington County is a competitive county, and for the first time in a long time the (fundraising) numbers aren’t that different. We’re right there, and we think we’re going to be competitive this year and for years to come,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chris Russell, executive director of the Burlington County Republican Committee, countered that the Democrats have put too much stock in last year’s victories and that the GOP is confident their candidates and message will resonate with voters.
“I think they are mounting a challenge, but that they’re off-base on their issues,” he said. “At the end of the day … the state is a disaster under Democrat rule and our candidates best represent making a change in Trenton.”” (Levinsky and Camilli, Burlington County Times)
THE BEST WAY TO GET A VOTE IS THROUGH A STOMACH
“They’re not unique to Passaic County, but they certainly are distinctive: beefsteaks, restaurant VIP dinners, house receptions and get-out-the-vote breakfasts. Candidates in local and statewide elections take their food-filled fundraising events as seriously as their races.
Throughout September, October and right up to Election Day on Nov. 6, the events kept coming: the West Milford GOP hosted a breakfast, the Hawthorne Democrats a Middle Eastern house party feast, Sen. Nia Gill a dinner at Mesob restaurant in Montclair, and there were others. Both Democrats and Republicans hosted beefsteak dinners at the Brownstone in Paterson, one of the area’s most popular catering halls; among them, the Passaic Regular Republican Organization and the Passaic County Democratic Committee. And tonight, a Montclair Republican family will host an at-home reception for 34th District Assembly candidates Robert Bianco and Clenard Childress; and the Ringwood Republicans, a spaghetti dinner at the Cupsaw Clubhouse hall in Ringwood.
Campaign fundraisers have evolved away from traditional, multicourse feasts within in recent years and toward more informal parties, luncheons and breakfasts, said Albert Manzo, co-owner of the Brownstone.” (Stevens, Herald News)
“Ruhan Derti intends to vote in the presidential election next year, but he’ll probably stay away from the polls on Tuesday.
Derti, a 24-year-old from Totowa, is one of many voters under 30 who are not likely to choose municipal, county and state representatives.
“Our generation is too busy and worried about how we are going to put food on the table and where our next paycheck is coming from to pay attention to the news and voting,” Derti said recently.” (Superville, Herald News)
IN ATLANTIC CITY
“No matter who 2nd Ward voters choose, they will reelect a councilman. This fall’s contest is between Robert Johnson, who served on council for most of the first 3½ years of this decade, and Marty Small, who replaced him.
The race has been surprisingly bitter, with Small, the incumbent, angered that his opponent would have the audacity to ask voters to “reelect Johnson.” He also has run mocking radio commercials that criticize Johnson’s council attendance and voting record.” (Harper, Press of Atlantic City)
IN CUMBERLAND COUNTY
“This year’s race for Cumberland County freeholder does not have much controversy, compared with years past. No independent candidates have been knocked off the ballot due to the Hatch Act and other campaigns’ allegedly selective attempts to enforce it.
No one used the county clerk’s salary for a media blitz in an election that does not include her. No one accused their own party of not supporting their candidates – at least not publicly.
Heading into the last weekend before Election Day, the race among incumbents Doug Rainear and Mary Gruccio and challengers Joseph Pepitone, Ian Roberts and Robert McQuade has lacked that controversial quality that’s dominated elections over the last four years.” (Walsh, Press ofAtlantic City)