In Washington, Republicans lawmakers in the House passed a sweeping rewrite of the nation’s health care laws after years of failed plans and votes that went nowhere. Now it’s up to the U.S. Senate to review the legislation and decide whether it lives or dies.
In New Jersey, Democratic lawmakers are already splitting up the spoils of war from an election that’s six months away, with Senate President Steve Sweeney locking up support for another term at the top of the upper house, and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto calling an emergency meeting to fight for his own leadership post.
And in the governor’s race, we can all finally stop wasting precious time and resources on Joe Piscopo’s long publicity stunt and focus on “undecided,” who would win the election if voters went to the polls today.
The 3rd District congressman scored the biggest victory of his young political career by getting a Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare past the House on Thursday. It shows his clout in the halls of power, but it’s not a clean victory. The particular legislation is as controversial as they come: Hospitals, insurance companies, and consumer groups think it’s a mess. Millions could lose coverage nationwide. The bill passed without an updated score by the Congressional Budget Office. It made MacArthur a bête noire among New Jersey’s editorial writers. It shifted his district one notch to the left, according to the Cook Political Report. Democrats seeking to pick up seats in 2018 are sure to take notice, and Republicans are likely to rally around their new Mr. Fix-It.
Under attack from the New Jersey Education Association, the Democrat now appears on track to win another term as Senate president if he wins re-election to his seat, with 17 pledged votes — and potentially a couple more, depending on the election results — in his 24-member caucus.
Jack Ciattarelli, Kim Guadagno and John Wisniewski all made their first ad buys this week in the super-expensive TV markets that blanket New Jersey. But none of them said exactly how much they were spending, which is usually code for “not much.” They join Phil Murphy and Jim Johnson on the airwaves, who planted their TV flags earlier in the contest.
THE MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION CROWD
Gov. Chris Christie called the idea “beyond stupidity” this week, but hours later at a social justice forum in Newark, it became clear that it’s going to be one of the first bills to get signed if a Democrat wins the governor’s race.
The lieutenant governor scored the Joe Piscopo endorsement. A Quinnipiac University poll found that the comedian would have gotten 14 percent of the vote as an independent in a three-way race with Guadagno and Phil Murphy, so the endorsement could mean a real lift for Guadagno. Then again, in a head-to-head matchup in the same poll, Murphy beat Guadagno 50 percent to 25 percent.
JOSH HENNE and JEANNETTE HOFFMAN
The James Carville and Mary Matalin of New Jersey politics had a baby boy on Monday, who no doubt will register as a member of the Whig Party when he’s grown up to avoid upsetting mom or dad.
Millions have been spent, TV ads have been bought, endorsements have been collected, policy proposals have been rolled out, and his team hustles like no one’s business, but the front-runner for the Democratic nomination is still mostly unknown to New Jersey voters, according to this week’s Quinnipiac poll. He does, however, seem to be on the right track. Among those who have picked a candidate, Murphy leads with 23 percent support. In a moment of candor at his news conference to unveil a plan for NJ Transit, Murphy said he might raise taxes to fund upgrades for commuters, opening himself up to attacks from Kim Guadagno.
NEW JERSEY TAXPAYERS
Christie’s big state house renovation could cost more than $700 million — up from the original $300 million price tag that already had set tongues wagging — according to the administration. Nice parting gift from the governor who gave us 11 credit-rating downgrades.
The Ocean County GOP chairman’s legal troubles keep piling up. It was reported this week that the IRS has taken out another six-figure lien on his Toms River home for tax bills from 2015.
Two-thirds of voters said his two terms were “mainly a failure,” according to the Qunnipiac poll. His approval rating has been stuck below 20 percent all year. Critics of his plan to raid Horizon’s reserves keep coming out of the woodwork and supporters haven’t been spotted.
Our biggest complaint is that, for a so-called comedian, he could have been much funnier during months and months of teasing a run for governor. Chairman of what board?