NJ Politics Digest: Murphy in the Cross Hairs

Phil Murphy, Michael Aron and Jim Johnson. Kevin B. Sanders for Observer

A pile-on dominated the second and last debate in the Democratic gubernatorial primary Thursday night, with front-runner Phil Murphy taking jabs all night from his three rivals for the nomination. Murphy bobbed and weaved and grinned his way through, defending himself with promises to clamp down on Wall Street and raise taxes to pay for schools and pensions.

Gov. Chris Christie weighed in on the firing of his old mentor, former FBI Director James Comey, smacking down an NJ.com reporter who asked the governor if he would take the FBI job if it were still open nine months from now, in January.

Rep. Tom MacArthur took a beating from an angry town hall crowd Wednesday night, and on Thursday there was plenty of speculation on how the moderate Republican’s decision to jump into a lead role in negotiations to win passage of the Republican health care bill might affect his re-election campaign.

Quote of the Day: “This Democratic primary is an auction. We saw Phil’s campaign reports where he’s bid up the price to almost $20 million, including a $15 million loan. It’s an obscene amount of money and New Jersey can do better.” – Assemblyman John Wisniewski, going hard on the attack against Phil Murphy.

NJ Gov Race: Rivals Gang Up on Murphy in Final Democratic Debate
In the fiercest challenge to his candidacy for governor, Phil Murphy was besieged by his three rivals onstage at the second and final debate before New Jersey’s Democratic primary on June 6.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

In New Jersey Debate, Democratic Candidates for Governor Gang Up on Front-Runner
The final major televised debate in the Democratic primary for governor of New Jersey, held Thursday at NJTV’s studios in Newark, quickly became a raucous and rancorous exchange, with three candidates mounting repeated attacks against Mr. Murphy, who has dominated every aspect of the early stages of the campaign, from endorsements to fund-raising to early polling.
Nick Corasaniti, New York Times Read more

Democrats train fire on Murphy in final primary debate
Democratic candidates for governor sharpened their attacks on Phil Murphy during the party’s second and final primary debate Thursday night, calling his progressive values into question and condemning what one called an “obscene” amount of spending.
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

South Jersey’s MacArthur could be a GOP star — if health-care backlash doesn’t sink him
Just a few years ago, Tom MacArthur was virtually unknown in New Jersey politics. A former mayor of Randolph, a North Jersey town of 26,000, he moved to the shore to run for an open congressional seat in 2014.
Andrew Seidman and Jonathan Tamari, Inquirer Read more

What Will Christie Do After He Leaves Office?
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Thursday pledged again to stay in his job until the end of his term in January.
Kate King, Wall Street Journal Read more

Christie and his complicated relationship with mentor Jim Comey
Over the years, Gov. Chris Christie often spoke in reverential tones about Jim Comey, the former F.B.I director fired Tuesday by President Trump.
Charles Stile, The Record Read more

Christie describes reaction to Trump firing of FBI director Comey as ‘hysteria’
Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday dismissed the furor over President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey as “hysteria,” insisting that it “doesn’t matter” to a widening federal investigation of whether president’s associates colluded with Russian agents to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com Read more

Norcross Blasts MacArthur Amendment
Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1) and Mayor Dana Redd of Camden called on the U.S. Senate to reject the Republican bill to rewrite key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, speaking from a Planned Parenthood clinic on Wednesday.
JT Aregood, Observer Read more

In Willingboro, Rep. MacArthur goes to town hall hell
Outside U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur’s town hall event Wednesday in Willingboro, a guy in a papier-mâché Donald Trump mask watched people who carried placards shaped like tombstones lie down for a die-in on the pavement.
Kevin Riordan, Inquirer Read more

Navy Vet Will Challenge NJ’s Frelinghuysen
Former federal prosecutor and Navy veteran Mikie Sherrill has become the first Democrat to announce a challenge to Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a Republican who has represented the 11th District for 22 years.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Amtrak chief calls for joint control of Penn Station, plots concourse upgrades
Amtrak on Thursday announced plans to improve its dark and gritty passenger concourse at New York Penn Station, saying it would create a new venture that could be run jointly with NJ Transit and the Long Island Rail Road.
Ryan Hutchins, Politico Read more

Cuomo, Christie call for private Penn Station operator
Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey have written a letter declaring the need for “a professional, qualified, private station operator” to assume responsibility from Amtrak for managing and repairing Penn Station — a facility rocked by delays that will be clogged by major repairs this summer.
Politico Read more

Commuters could lose up to 25 percent of trains during Amtrak summer work
NJ Transit commuters could lose up to 25 percent of their rail service in and out of Penn Station during 44 days of summer track work by Amtrak, the federal rail agency’s president said Thursday.
Larry Higgs, NJ.com Read more

Trump actions could lead to oil drilling off the N.J. coast
The U.S. Interior Department plans to resume seismic testing in the Atlantic Ocean, a step that could eventually lead to allowing oil drilling there.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

Lawmakers Grill State Officials on Plans To Dip into Horizon Reserves
New Jersey lawmakers tried in vain to pry from state officials more details on Gov. Chris Christie’s proposal to make Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield pay for certain public healthcare needs, a plan that has sparked nearly unanimous opposition from legislators, business leaders, and public advocates of all kinds.
Lilo H. Stainton, NJSpotlight Read more

Alzheimer’s, autism, anxiety could be treated with marijuana in NJ by 2018
More than 150,000 New Jersey residents who suffer from chronic pain, migraines, Tourette syndrome, or anxiety related to autism or Alzheimer’s disease could become eligible to use medical marijuana if the state’s health commissioner adopts the far-reaching recommendations issued by a panel of doctors Thursday.
Jan Hefler, Inquirer Read more

The 2017 Republican primary: Kim Guadagno moves left in a right-wing party
Now we know why she’s been dodging the media for so long.
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno seemed more than a bit confused during the first primary election debate held Tuesday night at Stockton University in Atlantic County.
Paul Mulshine, NJ.com Read more

Christie Vetoes Under-18 Marriage Ban
Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill to prohibit marriage for people under 18 on Thursday, suggesting to lawmakers the minimum age should be set at 16 instead.
JT Aregood, Observer Read more

Christie’s State House Makeover Cleared for $300M in Financing
A costly plan from Gov. Chris Christie to renovate the state house in Trenton cleared an important hurdle on Thursday, with the state Economic Development Authority voting to authorize $300 million in bonds to finance the project.
Salvador Rizzo, Observer Read more

Bills from law firm running Atlantic City for state now top $1 million
Newly released invoices from the West Orange law firm charged with running Atlantic City for the state bring the total billed to the public for the work to more than $1.1 million.
Amy S. Rosenberg, Inquirer Read more

NJ details latest plan for paying for retirement: Hit up the lottery
State Treasurer Ford Scudder provided additional details Thursday supporting Gov. Chris Christie’s complicated plan to boost the value of New Jersey’s public-worker pension funds by handing it the New Jersey Lottery for three decades.
Michael Symons, NJ101.5 Read more

Freehold Schools Sue NJ
One of the most underfunded school districts in New Jersey is suing the state Department of Education and its commissioner, demanding more state aid.
Steph Solis, Asbury Park Press Read more

Christie shouts down protesters: ‘Ignorant, NIMBY attitude won’t be stood for’
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie berated residents protesting the opening of a new drug treatment center Thursday, calling the crowd “ignorant” and “intolerant” for opposing the center because of its proximity to an elementary school.
Susanne Cervenka, Asbury Park Press Read more

Suez, seeking a new contract with Jersey City, contributes to Fulop campaign
Suez, the company that is currently negotiating a new, multi-year contract to run Jersey City’s water system, has sent thousands of dollars in campaign donations Mayor Steve Fulop’s way.
Terrence T. McDonald, The Jersey Journal Read more

Camden schools announce more layoffs and other staff cuts
The Camden School District plans another round of layoffs and other job cuts, affecting 121 teachers, custodians, security officers, and support staff, a spokesman said Thursday.
Melanie Burney, Inquirer Read more

Editorial: Once a political hostage, $59.5M for N.J. open space released
New Jersey voters have a robust history of supporting open-space initiatives, both on the municipal and the state level.
Star-Ledger Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Murphy in the Cross Hairs