Wake-Up Call: Thursday, June 5, 2008

With the PolitickerNJ.com Wake-Up Call e-mailed to your inbox, phone, Blackberry or PDA first thing in the morning, you can get a rundown of New Jersey’s top political headlines. Sign up to get the Wake-Up Call delivered every morning.

Five months of this?
On the first day of their general election campaign, Republican Dick Zimmer demanded debates with U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who called on Zimmer to explain “how he expects to go from lobbyist to a senator.”

Fresh from winning the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, Zimmer, a former three-term congressman, said he has accepted an invitation to debate June 13 at the New Jersey Association of Counties’ convention and challenged Lautenberg to do likewise. (Robert Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)

Bygones are bygones
CHERRY HILL — Democratic leaders are urging U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., to reconsider running for Congress in November. (Joseph Didjunis and Richard Pearsall, Courier-Post)

With friends like these
The quotes fly freely on election night and here’s a stellar one from Assemblyman Richard Merkt, R-Mendham Twp, about Frank Lautenberg after the incumbent senator won Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

The odds are even money that Lautenberg won’t live out his term,” proclaimed the always quotable Merkt. (Fred Snowflack, The Daily Record)

More exciting than it looked
New Jersey primaries tend to be dull, routine rubber-stamping by party regulars of party-picked candidates.

Not this year. Tuesday’s contests for the U.S. Senate turned one underdog into a candidate with credibility, while possibly closing the career of a promising career Democrat.

Here is a look at the winners, losers and survivors of Tuesday’s primary. (Charles Stile, The Record)

Myers’ hidden advantage
Much has been written about how Democrat John H. Adler rolled up a $1 million fundraising advantage in the 3rd District race for Congress while his Republican opponents spent more than $700,000 fighting each other in the campaign leading up to the primary election Tuesday. (Alan Guenther, Asbury Park Press)

Early adopter
U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman was ridiculed last July when he bucked the conventional wisdom and became the first congressman from Hillary Clinton’s Northeast home turf to endorse Barack Obama. (Herb Jackson, The Record)

Are there doubts?
It’s been apparent to many in North Jersey that Sen. Barack Obama

would win the Democratic presidential nomination.

But now that it’s a near-certainty, some local Democrats are divided on whether the first-term senator has the experience and know-how to beat the presumptive Republican nominee John McCain in November. (Jennifer H. Cunningham, Herald News)

Officially a winner
Former Mayor Lorenzo Langford won the Democratic nomination for mayor Wednesday, getting an opportunity to complete the term of the rival who defeated him three years ago. (Michael Clark, Press of Atlantic City)

A setback for Booker
Newark Mayor Cory Booker was soundly defeated in his efforts to win the Democratic district leader slots in the largely African-American South Ward in Tuesday’s primary, but he remains in contention for a shot at picking the Central Ward Democratic chairman, an area he represented as councilman. (Jeffrey C. Mays, Star-Ledger)

Corzine laying the groundwork
State Democratic Party Chairman Joseph Cryan said today that Gov. Jon Corzine will pursue a second term in office. (Matt Friedman, PolitickerNJ.com)

Nearing a deal
TRENTON — Gov. Jon S. Corzine and top Democratic lawmakers continued working toward resolving negotiations over the state budget Wednesday and appeared close to hammering out agreements on key issues such as an early retirement plan and restoring some state aid to towns and hospitals. (Jonathan Tamari, Gannett)

What might have been
We coulda had class. We coulda been a contender.

But instead of the more prominent role New Jersey had hoped to play in picking a president by moving its primary from June to February, the state may have blown its chance to be a king- or queen-maker. (Susan K. Livio, Star-Ledger)

Explain that
The winner of Tuesday’s 7th Congressional District race, a New Jersey political veteran, was no surprise, but poor showings by his Republican competitors was a bit more bewildering, experts said. (Mariam Jukaku, Star-Ledger)

An early start wanted in Orange
ORANGE – City Council allies of Mayor-Elect Eldridge Hawkins, Jr., intend to try to vote him into office as acting mayor at a special meeting tonight, a month prior to his swearing-in ceremony. (Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com)

That ‘u’ word
The Hudson County Democratic Organization flexed its muscles and reasserted its hold over county politics with a sweep of all nine freeholder races in Tuesday’s primary elections.

And yesterday it needed only one word to explain it. Unity. (Charles Hack, Jersey Journal)

Incumbents hold on in Sussex
Republican voters in four Sussex County towns renominated three incumbents but sent two others packing in low-turnout primary elections, according to unofficial results tallied by the Sussex County Board of Elections.

Only four local races were contested Tuesday, and each was for GOP nominations to township committees in Andover Township, Montague, Stillwater and Wantage. (Jim Lockwood, Star-Ledger)

A harmonious first day
WEST WILDWOOD – Three new Borough Commissioners were sworn into office Wednesday, less than two weeks before a judge will hear arguments that the election that put them there was faulty. (Trudi Gilfillian, Press of Atlantic City)

GOP underground
Candidates supported by the entrenched Ocean County Republican organization faced a surprisingly stiff challenge in the primary election Tuesday from an underfunded, grass-roots political group organized by maverick Robert K. Haelig Jr. (Guenther, Asbury Park Press)

Mayors play a key role
The mayors took center stage in the half-dozen contested local political races in Warren County. (Mike Frassinelli, Star-Ledger)

Hunterdon organizations to pick leaders
Primary voters in Hunterdon and Somerset counties chose their candidates Tuesday night, leaving it to party organizations to pick their leaders next week. (Joe Tyrrell, Star-Ledger)

How much does a broken heart cost?
In the closing arguments of what has become the state’s most infamous divorce case, the attorney for former first lady Dina Matos asked yesterday for a judgment of more than $1 million.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the attorney for Matos’ estranged husband, former governor James E. McGreevey, countered with a different amount. (Judith Lucas and Brad Parks, Star-Ledger)

Did school lockdowns drop turnout?
BARNEGAT — Even without the temporary closing of two polling places — Barnegat High School and Lillian M. Dunfee School — during midday school lockdowns, the primary election turnout might still have been low, voters and candidates said Tuesday night. (Jessica Infante, Asbury Park Press)

With the PolitickerNJ.com Wake-Up Call e-mailed to your inbox, phone, Blackberry or PDA first thing in the morning, you can get a rundown of New Jersey’s top political headlines. Sign up to get the Wake-Up Call delivered every morning.

Wake-Up Call: Thursday, June 5, 2008