PolitickerNJ News Digest: Feb. 18th

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It’s the end of the week in New Jersey, where a new poll shows Gov. Chris Christie has a lot of ground to make up with residents, one legislator is picking a fight with the Pope and another is urging President Obama to assure long-delayed justice is delivered.

Quote of the Day: “Maybe he should dismiss those Swiss Guards and allow anyone who wants to walk in and out of the pope’s residence to do so. The way it is now, heaven forbid anyone goes where they’re not supposed to around there, they’ll get a spear in their ribs,” – State Senator Mike Doherty (R-23), reacting to Pope Francis opposition to Donald Trump’s call for a wall at the Mexican border.

Rutgers Poll: New Jerseyans Don’t See Christie as Effective, Trustworthy or Strong

New Jersey voters flunk Gov. Chris Christie on the basic virtues scorecard associated with leadership, according to today’s Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.
Thirty percent say “strong leader” describes Christie “very well” – an all-time low, according to the poll, down 36 points since his reelection in 2013, 26 points since Bridgegate erupted in January 2014, and 10 points since August 2015. This is the single largest decline over time of any of the traits. Another 31 percent now think the trait applies only “somewhat well,” and 37 percent say it does not apply at all.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Doherty: Pope Francis Should Save Souls and Stay out of Politics

In the midst of Pope Francis clashing with billionaire tycoon Donald Trump over the issue of Border security between the U.S. and Mexico and Trump’s religious bona fides, Trump’s chief New Jersey surrogate took a jab at the pontiff.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Robertson in Pole Position to Replace Soriano as Somerset Prosecutor

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Robertson is being positioned as the replacement for Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey Soriano, a source told PolitickerNJ.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

O’Toole and Cardinale Endorse Yudin for BCRO Chairman

While some Bergen County Republicans are calling for current Bergen County Republican Organization Chairman Bob Yudin to step down or not run for reelection, two Republican Senators from Bergen County have issued an endorsement for the embattled chairman. Senator Kevin O’Toole (R-40) and Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-39) have both decided to back Yudin for reelection.
Alyana Alfaro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Pascrell to Obama: As Long as You’re in Cuba, Try to Bring Back Cop Killer Chesimard

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) has a homework assignment for President Barack Obama when the latter travels to Cuba next month.
Pascrell wants Obama to advocate for the return to the United States of more than 70 fugitives from justice harbored by the Cuban government, including convicted cop killer Joanne Chesimard.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Bramnick Calls for New Regulations Following OMNIA Review

With doctors, nurses and administrators by his side, Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) said Thursday that opposition to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield’s proposed tiered health insurance plans is as strong as ever in the legislature. Speakers at this afternoon’s press conference came from the group of New Jersey hospitals pursuing a new lawsuit against Horizon for introducing plans that interrupt patient care and leave patients paying higher premiums and deductibles for the same services.
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

Lance to U.S. Senate: Delay Supreme Court Pick Until After Prez Election

U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) this week called on the U.S. Senate to delay the confirmation of a new Associate Justice to the congressman-leonard-lance-ledgerjpg-dbbb4232fa69dcc1U.S. Supreme Court until after the swearing-in of a newly-elected President in 2017.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Feldman Moves on From Middlesex Dems ED Job

After almost three years as the Executive Director of the Middlesex County Democratic Organization, Ben Feldman has left to found Raritan Strategies, a full service consulting firm specializing in strategic communications and business development.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

NJ Cuban-Americans Speak Out Against Obama Visit

On Thursday, President Barack Obama officially announced on Twitter that he would embark on a historic trip to Cuba. While Obama said that his visit will advance the United States’s “progress and efforts that can improve the lives of the Cuban people” many of New Jersey’s Cuban-Americans (from both political parties) are taking the opposing stance.
Alyana Alfaro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Watson Coleman Launches CD12 Reelection Bid

Kicking off early with a muscled up gym-setting campaign event to smother the potential for anyone to get the idea of challenging her, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) formally announced her reelection bid today at the College of New Jersey in her hometown of Ewing.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Prosecutor who investigated deaths of former N.J. official, wife being replaced

A prosecutor under scrutiny for his murder-suicide finding in the deaths of a prominent New Jersey couple will be replaced by a federal prosecutor, Gov. Chris Christie’s office announced Thursday.
Associated Press Read more

Lawmakers send Christie bill to restore food stamps waiver

New Jersey’s Democrat-led Legislature passed a bill Thursday to restore a work-requirement waiver for federal food stamps that the Christie administration stopped because the state’s unemployment rate had fallen.
Associated Press Read more

North Jersey casinos may do well, but NYC competition looms

If New Jersey follows through on its plans to allow two new casinos in the New York City suburbs, analysts and gambling industry officials agree they could be among the most successful in the country.
Associated Press Read more

Christie’s phony argument on ‘exodus’ from Jersey

In his state budget speech Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie claimed that high taxes have driven 2 million people from the state during the last decade.
“These facts are not debatable,” he said.
Tom Moran, Star-Ledger Editorial Board Read more

Obama signs Menendez North Korean sanctions bill

President Obama on Thursday signed legislation sponsored by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez to strengthen sanctions against North Korea.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

Trenton mayor breaks silence on payroll problem being investigated by FBI

Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson, speaking for the first time about the city’s payroll issues, said officials took immediate action after learning there was a problem.
Cristina Rojas, NJ.com Read more

3 former governors to Christie: Stop Horizon’s new insurance plans

Three former governors have signed an “open letter” to Gov. Chris Christie to ask he stop Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey from selling a new line of health plans that threaten “to erode the bedrock of New Jersey’s healthcare marketplace.”
Susan K. Livio, NJ.com Read more

EDITORIAL: Patronage alive and well in Ocean County

As U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie oversaw more than 250 convictions and guilty pleas of officials involved in public corruption during his six-year tenure. His low-key successor, Paul Fishman, is on pace to match that record, and the George Washington Bridge scandal is yet to fully play out.
Asbury Park Press Read more

State Sen. Shirley Turner lands $120K public school job

The Mercer County Special Services School District is lauding State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) as “uniquely suited” for a newly created position.
David Foster, The Trentonian Read more

Head of engineering firm admits to $1M pay-to-play scheme

The former chief executive of a politically connected engineering firm has admitted to his role in a $1 million scheme to get around New Jersey’s pay-to-play laws.
Associated Press Read more

Sweeney to A.C.: Without state help, ‘good luck’

Facing fresh backlash from Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian over a new state proposal to take over the city’s finances, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney on Thursday accused the local government of doing nothing to stem its fiscal crisis and threatened to withhold state aid.
Andrew Seidman And Amy S. Rosenberg, Philadelphia Inquirer, Read more 

PolitickerNJ News Digest: Feb. 18th