Today’s news from

Democrats outspend Republicans, with bulk of money going into districts 1, 2, 8 and 12; big names donate money to Monmouth County races; federal judge condemns controversial eighth district mailer; Republicans protest against passing monetization during lame duck legislative session.


“Democratic legislative candidates are outspending Republicans by nearly a 3-to-1 margin with the election just a week off, the latest campaign finance reports showed yesterday.

With Democrats trying to preserve majorities in both houses, they already have raised $28 million and spent $20 million on the general election. Republicans, who remain hopeful they will win back control of the Senate, have collected $11.4 million and sunk $6.8 million into their campaigns.

Democrats now own a 22-to-18 seat margin in the upper house, and hold 50 of the 80 seats in the state Assembly. All 120 seats are up for grabs Tuesday.

The latest reports available from the state Election Law Enforcement Commission show spending is heaviest in a handful of districts that could swing either way. In seven of the 40 districts statewide, spending already has shot past $1 million in each district. Much of the money is coming from the statewide fundraising committees run by the two parties and their legislative leaders.

In the hotly contested 12th District, where the marquee race is pitting incumbent Sen. Ellen Karcher (D-Monmouth) against Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth), spending already has topped $4.6 million.

Of that, the vast majority — more than $4 million — has been spent by the Democrats hoping to keep the Senate and one Assembly seat they now hold in the Republican-leaning district.

Karcher and her Assembly running mates already have received $1.7 million from the Senate Democratic Majority, just under $550,000 from the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee and more than $400,000 from the Democratic State Committee. The contest is threatening to eclipse the record-breaking campaign in 2003 barely won by Sen. Fred Madden (D-Gloucester) in the 3rd District after the two parties spent a combined $6.1 million. ” (Donohue, Star-Ledger)

“Democrats are spending nearly five times as much as Republicans in the most contested legislative races, according to campaign spending reports released yesterday.

Democrats have spent $9.8 million in the First, Second, Eighth and 12th legislative districts as they look to maintain Assembly and Senate majorities in the Nov. 6 election.

Republicans have spent about $2.2 million in those races.

Democrats control the Senate 22-18 and the Assembly 50-30. All 120 legislative seats are up for election next month.

Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, the state Democratic chairman, called the money advantage "a reflection of our political strength and our appeal with the voters."

"But the money itself is a means to an end," Cryan said. "It is needed to run campaigns, but we win elections with superior candidates who are right on the issues."” (Hester, AP)

Democrats are relying on $4 million in party support to outspend Republicans at a 3-1 clip in two of southern New Jersey's tightly contested legislative races.

State Election Law Enforcement Commission reports released Tuesday show state Senate candidate Assemblyman James Whelan, D-Atlantic, and his Assembly slate have raised more than $3 million, second in the state only to the $4.2 million raised by state Sen. Ellen Karcher, D-Monmouth, Mercer.

Senate candidate Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, is in third place in the state, having raised nearly $2.4 million.” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)



“Prominent Democrats from throughout the state, including Gov. Corzine, have been pouring contributions into Monmouth County in recent weeks in support of candidates in Tuesday's elections, according to just-released New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission reports.

The governor made a $37,000 contribution, the maximum allowed and an amount matched by the campaign funds of two state legislators, including Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr., D-Camden. All three of the $37,000 donations were made within the past 10 days, according to filings by the Monmouth County Democrats.

"The Democrats have a real chance for success in Monmouth County, and these are Democrats who sense that and who are supporting the party's candidates here," said Michael Mangan, spokesman for the county party. "There's no better example of corruption and high taxes than what is seen in Monmouth County under Republican control, and people are pushing to change that."

But county Republican Party Chairman Adam Puharic said about $200,000 in donations received by county Democrats since Oct. 9 go against the pay-to-play and anti-circumvention campaign finance rules recently adopted by the county government.

Puharic said, "These donations either violate the law or violate the spirit of the law."

The donations Puharic questions also include a $37,000 contribution from Local 400 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, based in Wall, and an equal amount donated by a union based in Monroe.

"These large union donations act in the same way as pay-to-play, where a benefit is expected in return," Puharic said. "I'm sure you won't find minutes of a union meeting where the members voted on these donations. These are union bosses and political bosses trying to win influence."” (Jordan, Asbury Park Press)



“The straight-and-narrow proceedings of federal court took a striking political detour yesterday during a hearing in Camden for six men accused in a terror plot against Fort Dix.

The U.S. district judge presiding over a pretrial hearing for the group known as the "Fort Dix Six" threw sharp words from the bench when shown a campaign flyer being circulated by Republicans vying for state legislative seats in Burlington County.

The flyer, which was entered into evidence because of its potential impact on jurors, implies that Democratic Assembly hopeful Tracy Riley is a terrorist sympathizer.

The reason? Her husband, Michael Riley, is defending one of the men accused in the alleged plot to gun down soldiers at Fort Dix, the Army base in Burlington County. One of the men is expected to enter a guilty plea today.

Judge Robert B. Kugler, who examined the flyer for its impact on potential jurors, did little to conceal his shock.

"Wow," Kugler said, inspecting the mailer that Riley had handed him. "I had heard this was going on. . . . It's pretty despicable stuff, honestly."” (Panaritis, Philadelphia Inquirer)



“Members of the Republican state legislative leadership called on their Democratic counterparts and Gov. Corzine not to advance any plan to sell or lease the state's toll roads during the lame-duck session of the Legislature, and to wait for new lawmakers to take their seats Jan. 8.

"I predict that magically after the close of the polls on Nov. 6, details (of the governor's plan) will appear," said state Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance, R-Hunterdon, at a news conference at the Wall service area on the Garden State Parkway on Tuesday afternoon. "It is a disservice to the 9 million people of New Jersey."

Lance, Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce, R-Morris, GOP candidates for state Senate and Assembly in Monmouth County districts 11 and 12, andstate GOP Chairman Tom Wilson all called for state Senate President Richard J. Codey and Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. not to consider or vote on any "asset monetization plan" put forward by the Corzine administration until the new Legislature is seated.

Lance joked that he was willing to bet on a post-Election Day release of such a plan. He said next Tuesday's election could result in the largest turnover of lawmakers in a long time, and that those who are elected should debate and decide on any plan.” (Higgs, Asbury Park Press)



“To see how badly our esteemed leaders can screw up a good idea, witness what they've done to the cause of embryonic stem cell research.

This began as a high-minded effort to fight disease by establishing a stem cell research center in New Brunswick — a move that would juice the state's biotech and pharmaceutical industries at the same time. So far, so good.

But look what emerged after it ran the gantlet in the Legislature, taking one body blow after another. First, they decided that New Brunswick could not get all that money for itself. So they tacked on $120 million more for research facilities in Newark, Camden, Belleville and Allendale.

"It was a political compromise," says Senate President Richard Codey………….

But it gets worse. The real Jersey move here is that they want to borrow every penny of research money, with no means to pay for it.

So if voters approve this project in next week's referendum, as the polls predict, a state that's already facing a debt crisis will borrow another $450 million.

Another question on the ballot requests $200 million more to purchase open space, also with no means to pay for it. So make that $650 million in new debt.

What are they thinking? We need statesmen to make tough decisions, and we have a gang of teenage mall rats on a shopping spree they can't afford.” (Moran, Star-Ledger)



“A former Newark Municipal Court clerk pleaded guilty in federal court yesterday to accepting a $4,000 bribe from an undercover agent to cover up the criminal record of a person seeking homeland security clearance for an airport job.

Louis March, 38, who had been hired by the city despite an extensive criminal record, admitted that he took the money from an agent who said he was the boyfriend of a woman applying for a job at LaGuardia Airport.

March told U.S. District Judge Garrett Brown in Trenton that he gave the agent a municipal court document with an official seal that said a drug charge against the job applicant had been dismissed.

According to an FBI affidavit made public when March was arrested, he told the agent that he had put his request "in front of a whole lot of people" and that he would take calls from the Department of Homeland Security if necessary.

The defendant, who was arrested by FBI agents and Newark police on March 13, pleaded guilty to the crime of extortion under color of official right, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Brown set sentencing for Feb. 4.

The administration of Mayor Sharpe James hired March for the $26,000-a-year clerk job in December 2004. At the time, he had a record of 20 arrests for robbery, burglary, narcotics, prostitution, theft and other crimes dating to 1989” (Kleinknecht, Star-Ledger)



“The fifth and final debate between Sen. Ellen Karcher and Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck will go down tomorrow in Marlboro, the most populous town in this contentious 12th district senate contest.

The campaigns have built up to this moment, where in the midst of a blitz of radio and television ads, shrieking voices, frantic cell phone calls and a chattering class assessment that Karcher is in trouble, these two bitter antagonists will stand on an otherwise barren stage for one last trumpet blast.

The debates have been battlezones here in the 12th.

This is not like the neighboring 14th district where a few days ago as the candidates appeared together for their tenth debate and second of the day, there was a palpable emanation of fatigue onstage and an unspoken sense among the participants of "I won't hit you, if you don't hit me."

Beck and Karcher are have never stopped trading from the beginning of this campaign cycle. At least one of their encounters devolved into a fiasco, prompting cringing handlers on both sides to all but turn on the fire hoses.” (Pizarro,



In their final debate before Election Day, Republican state Sen. Nicholas Asselta and Democratic Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew tried to out-conservative each other on taxes, immigration and gay marriage.

The freewheeling forum, moderated by Pinky Kravitz of WOND AM radio, allowed the candidates to ask questions of one another. That gave both the candidates opportunity to repeat charges from their negative ads and tack on a rhetorical question at the end, such as "What have you learned since then?" The effect was sort of a live version of the negative ad campaigns of both candidates.

It was a back and forth over gay marriage, however, that showed just how crucial it is for both candidates to appeal to the conservative base of a district that spans all of Cape May County, parts of Cumberland County and some border towns in Atlantic County.

Asselta asked Van Drew about his support of civil unions, which granted same-sex couples the rights of married couples without allowing them to marry.

Van Drew noted that he voted against a domestic partnership law that the state Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional. He said he supported civil unions because he thought the court had left a choice between civil unions or gay marriage.

"My assumption when you voted no (to civil unions) was that you were for full marriage for gay couples," Van Drew said. "Of those two choices, I thought civil unions were the way to go. But I've always thought marriage is between a man and a woman Nick, and you know that."

Asselta said he voted against domestic partnerships and civil unions because he is consistent on the issue. Civil unions, he said, because of the burden increased health-benefit costs would place on the state economy.

"This is an economic issue primarily and a philosophical issue," Asselta said. "In light of our deteriorating pension system, that was just a bad, bad vote."” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)

“It's been called the most watched Senate race in New Jersey by many political analysts. In the First District, which includes Millville, Vineland, Maurice River, Cape May County and parts of Atlantic County, Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew is attempting to wrest control of the Senate seat from incumbent Sen. Nick Asselta.

The race pits two men, who, for many years, have fought on the same side of several issues, against each other.

Asselta has served as a Republican in the state Senate since 2004.

A resident of Vineland, Asselta previously served in the state Assembly from 1995 to 2003.

Asselta, a moderate Republican, claims he's been asked before to switch parties, but has declined.

"I've been offered jobs from the DRBA to the DRPA to the Casino Control Commission to the BPU to get me out of the way so (the Democratic Party) doesn't have to spend all this money to beat me,'' he said in an interview with the News earlier this month………..

"So many people in the Legislature are retiring, moving on,'' Van Drew said.

"They've been pushed hard … as they should. The combination of all of that means that it is a new time and, hopefully, there really can be some new ideas and new vision and new energy and new breath.''

Van Drew said he wants to be the one to bring these new ideas and visions.

"I think, in the Senate, it's a very staid and slow-moving body. Between both parties, there isn't a lot of debate and discussion. In the Assembly, you really hash things out. You argue within your own caucus. I'm really going to energize (the Senate),'' he said. ” (Dunn, Bridgeton News)

“State Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew wants to be part of a new wave of lawmakers who will join the Senate at a time when New Jersey is struggling with unprecedented budget and ethics issues.

"I think this is a time of unique opportunity for South Jersey and the Senate," Van Drew said in an interview last week. "We have some of the most extraordinary challenges this state has ever seen, and they'll require an extraordinary amount of focus and energy and vision."…….

Among his accomplishments, Van Drew cited legislation he sponsored to help bring the New Jersey Motorsports Park to Millville. Developers broke ground for the $150 million project in September.

Van Drew also cited his lobbying to convince Verizon to extend its cable service into Cumberland County beginning next year.

To help with the state's budget woes, Van Drew said as a senator, he'd call for a constitutionally mandated "rainy day" fund that would set aside a certain portion of state revenues in prosperous times.

"When revenues are good and exceed expectations, (money should be) put aside for when things aren't as good," Van Drew said.” (Zatzariny, Daily Journal)



A personal crusade led Nelson Albano to Trenton. But, he said, after he got there, he realized there was other work to be done.

In December 2001, Albano's 19-year-old son, Michael, was killed by a drunken driver with four previous drunken-driving convictions. As a grieving father, Albano lobbied for legislation that would increase the penalties for drunken drivers with multiple convictions.

In January 2004, "Michael's Law," was adopted. Under the law, drivers with more than three drunken-driving convictions must serve mandatory jail sentences.

The day they signed that legislation, I knew the system worked and that one man could make a difference," Albano said in an interview last week.

Afterward, he decided to run for state office and in January 2006 was sworn in as a state Assemblyman in the 1st District.

Albano is seeking his second Assembly term in the Nov. 6 election.

His running mate is Matthew Milam, a local businessman. Albano and Milam face Republicans R. Norris Clark and Michael Donohue.” (Zatzariny, Daily Journal)



Governor Corzine has dipped into his own deep pockets to urge New Jersey voters to approve a plan to borrow $450 million for stem cell research.

Corzine, a multimillionaire, has given $150,000 to New Jersey for Hope, a recently formed political committee, to run ads supporting the initiative.

Corzine "has been talking up the issue," Lilo Stainton, his spokeswoman, said Tuesday. "He's very passionate about what this [stem cell research] will do scientifically and economically to benefit the state."

New Jersey for Hope, a coalition of medical advocacy groups based in Metuchen, will use the money primarily to fund radio and television commercials promoting the stem cell bond issue, said Reed Black, the group's chairman.

Corzine's donation, Black said, "is certainly thrilling. I just heard about it myself; it's very exciting. I knew he [Corzine] donated to the California stem cell initiative, so it wasn't out of the question" he would contribute to the New Jersey effort.” (Grove, Bergen Record)



“Is Mercer County's largest municipality Andy Griffith's Mayberry or Batman's Gotham City — a tranquil suburb or burgeoning gang stronghold?

The rhetoric over the extent of Hamilton's crime problem has ricocheted throughout the township in recent months, with each candidate in the upcoming mayoral election claiming the other is distorting the facts.

Democratic Mayor Glen D. Gilmore has run a campaign touting his record on controlling crime, portraying Hamilton as an oasis from the mean streets of nearby Trenton. He has installed security cameras in troubled areas, hired extra police and presented community gang seminars all in an effort to keep the township's 90,000 residents safe.

"The bottom line is we have been recognized as one of the safest communities in America, not based on a single year, but based on a seven-year evaluation," said Gilmore, citing a designation by CNN/ naming Hamilton the 10th safest city in America. "That's a major achievement especially, with the challenges we are facing not only in our community but in surrounding communities."

His opponent, Republican John Bencivengo, said Gilmore has presented residents with a false sense of safety and ignored a gang problem that has gone from burgeoning to entrenched. If elected, he will bring a new focus to gangs, creating a police task force, working with the schools to educate children and ensure that parents are aware of the dangers potentially facing their children.

"I think the mayor has given residents a false sense of security," Bencivengo said. "Crime is most certainly up based on the latest statistics and I think it proves that our people should be aware that crime is on the rise. This is not the same town it once was." ” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)



“TOMS RIVER – Mayor Paul C. Brush will back Democrat Richard P. Strada to be the township's second directly elected mayor, but Tuesday's endorsement touched off another debate about who is responsible for the increase in the township's tax rate.

At a press conference in front of town hall, Brush held up a 1981 bumper sticker from the two Democrats' run for Township Committee 26 years ago, saying Strada's commitment to Toms River is why residents should elect him on Tuesday.

"His love for and dedication to the Toms River community is second to none, and I truly believe that he will be a great mayor, and this is why I am here today," Brush said.

Strada, running against Republican Thomas Kelaher and independent Township Councilman Carmine Inteso, has made the township's combined 44 percent municipal tax increase during the past four years the centerpiece of his campaign. Under the township's form of government, Brush, as mayor, is the initial architect of the budget.” (Santoriello, Asbury Park Press)



“TOMS RIVER — Federal authorities say they have no plans to open an investigation requested last month by Democratic mayoral candidate Richard P. Strada into now-abandoned plans to sell the Albocondo Campground.

Yet, Strada has no regrets.

"Because my call was sent to a number of law enforcement agencies, it is my belief this matter will continue to be investigated regardless of Mr. Christie's rapid decision to dismiss this matter," he said, referring to Christopher Christie, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey.

In his request for a probe, Strada targeted George R. Gilmore, the Ocean County Republican chairman, whose firm represented the development company that had the 58-acre campground rezoned in 2005.

The property, which has more than doubled in value, was recently in the pipeline to be sold to the Toms River Regional school board, which Gilmore's firm represents.

Strada said he saw this as a conflict of interest and wrote to Christie and the state Attorney General in September requesting an investigation.

Gilmore has said that no conflict existed because he had stopped representing the development company, Sandcastle of Monmouth County LLC II, in January and his firm had recused itself months later when the school board was negotiating a possible purchase. He also said the school district was not considering purchasing the property at the time he represented Sandcastle.” (Patberg, Asbury Park Press)



“Burlington County could see a shift in political power depending of the outcome of several key races in Tuesday's election.

In the contest for a seat on the county Board of Freeholders, both the Democrat and the Republican are calling themselves reform candidates.

In the race for county sheriff, Democrat Ben Braxton, a career law enforcer, is seeking to unseat three-term Republican incumbent Jean Stanfield, a lawyer.

Meanwhile, candidates of both parties are attempting to make their mark and tip the scales on various municipal governing councils.

In the freeholder race, both Republican Joe Donnelly, 41, a Cinnaminson councilman, and Democrat Tom Bader, 44, a physician who is a Moorestown resident, have plans to cut county taxes and call more attention to ethics in government. But they differ sharply on other key issues…………

In the county sheriff's race, incumbent Stanfield named gang-related violence as a top issue. She pointed to the county's recently created gang prevention task force and $500,000 federal grant that will keep more officers on the streets and pay for new equipment to improve information-sharing.

In addition, she wants to continue the approximately 30 community services offered through her office with the help of grants.” (Giordano, Philadelphia Inquirer)



Dawn Zimmer says she's running for the Fourth Ward City Council seat because "career politicians" are not representing the best interests of the residents.

She says city leaders should "focus on enhancing the quality of life of Hoboken's citizens, not enhancing the bottom line of the developers and outside political organizations."

The marathon race for the seat has been dogged by controversy every step of the way – even by Hudson County standards. Incumbent Christopher Campos lost a June runoff election and challenged the results in court, claiming irregularities in absentee ballots cost him victory. Zimmer agreed to vacate her council seat and run in a special election against Campos next Tuesday.

Zimmer said allegations of voter fraud are "categorically false" and part of a plan "to throw up enough smoke so that (Campos) could undermine the electoral process." She said she agreed to a new election to "avoid a lengthy and costly trial."

One of the most important issues facing the Fourth Ward is to ensure that large-scale development maintains Hoboken's "small town" feel, Zimmer said. ” (Hack, Jersey Journal)



“Happy Halloween! We usually can't get too excited about a day for ghouls, goblins and mischievous little devils because it almost seems like a typical day in the world of Hudson County politics. The difference is that no one asks "trick or treat" because everyone knows what they will eventually get. Still, everyone loves a ghost story, just before elections.

The county has its share of spooky tales. They have been rehashed many times – glowing eyes of St. Joseph of the Blind in Jersey City and the ghost (presumably of Margaret Williams) of New Jersey City University – seen mostly during the Jersey City State days……………

A small West New York contingent sent this columnist a message via a colleague concerning the reports the past few weeks of peace talks between the two feuding factions in the Hudson County Democratic Party.

The West New Yorkers pretty much suggested that I'm full of it and that their guy, Mayor Sal Vega, has been having secret talks in the wee hours of the morning with Union City Mayor Brian P. Stack.

Early morning clandestine sessions are not unheard of in this county.

After some more face-to-face talks and phone calls, let us say that it is still way too early to say peace is here. The discussions are about establishing a truce, a temporary arrangement that allows everyone to reload their war chests without worrying about they "enemy" sneaking up on the flank in next year's freeholder and congressional races.

Yes, several people have been trying to initiate peace talks. The reason no consensus is being reached is that key political leaders are not at the table when talks take place. For example, Stack does not take any truce serious when someone like North Bergen Mayor and Sen. Nick Sacco stays in the background.

This means that two key seats, the ones held by Hudson County Freeholder Eliu Rivera of Jersey City and U.S. Rep. Albio Sires of West New York, remain in the cross-hairs.” (Torres, Jersey Journal)



“Libertarian 14th District Assembly candidate Jason Scheurer has filed a request for rescue funds as part of the Fair and Clean Elections program for what he says was a snub by a local television station.

Scheurer said he was not allowed to participate in a debate on News 12 New Jersey last week, while the four major party candidates in the race were part of the event. Scheurer said he was told there was no room for him in the debate, though he is the first third party candidate to be certified under the Fair and Clean Elections program, which gives candidates public money in exchange for their pledge to forego traditional campaign donations.

News 12 News Director Randal Stanley said Monday the event was a candidate's forum that lasted only 30 minutes. In order to ensure the program was able to cover as many issues as possible, it was limited to just the four major party candidates.

"I assured Mr. Scheurer we would cover his campaign in other ways," Stanley said.

Under the clean election pilot program currently under way in three state districts including Scheurer's 14th, candidates can petition for rescue funds if spending by an independent group aids an opponent. Earlier this month, Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein asked for and received rescue money after an outside group spent more than $100,000 on radio advertising at tacking her record.

Scheurer has already railed against the clean elections program after he received far less money than his major party opponents. While Republicans and Democrats in the district who qualified received in excess of $520,000, Scheurer has received less than $30,000. ” (Isherwood, Trenton Times)



“Voters will get to decide whether to amend the state constitution to dedicate one cent of the state's 7 percent sales tax to property tax relief through a ballot question next week.

The measure is expected to pass easily, which would mean that more than $1.4 billion in sales tax receipts will be dedicated to property tax relief annually.

Last year, lawmakers increased the sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent and voters agreed to dedicate half of the increase to property tax relief. This resolution would dedicate the full increase for that purpose.

This year's property tax rebate program cost a record $2.2 billion, with most homeowners receiving checks for up to 20 percent of the first $10,000 of their property tax bills. In North Jersey, the average check was for $1,080.” (Lu, Bergen Record)



“It's the voices of experience versus the outlook of challengers seeking seats in the 15th District Assembly race this year.

Five-term Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman and sixth- term Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, both Democrats, hope to hold on to their seats against Republican Sylvester Bobby Bryant and Green Party candidate Nicholas Mellis.

The opponents say voters should pick them Election Day if they are tired of business as usual in state politics.

The incumbents say they have the experience and the track record needed to handle the business of the state.

"We need people who can hit the ground running," said Coleman, who also is the Assembly majority leader. ” (Loayza, Trenton Times)



“For Stephen Colbert, the presidency is a steaming apple pie sitting on a window sill and he's either the wag scheming to swipe it or a fly about to nibble on it. Most likely the latter.

Yesterday, Fox TV and Rasmussen Reports released a poll that showed nearly half of all Americans would consider voting for Comedy Central's faux right-wing, uber-patriotic political commentator……….

So far, Colbert says he's going to run only in the primary in his home state of South Carolina, on both the Democratic and Republican tickets. No word on whether he'll also run where he currently lives, in New Jersey.” (Orr, Star-Ledger)



“The indictment of state Sen. Wayne Bryant, D-Camden, has sparked an unusually contentious council election.

Republican challengers Willa Coletrane and Clinton Higgs Jr. are running a spirited campaign, tying the incumbents to Bryant, who was indicted in March on federal charges of bribery and pension-padding.

Coletrane, 67, and Higgs, 59, say the hiring in August of Dwight A. Wilson, a former staffer for Bryant, to be borough administrator at $75,000 per year, is evidence of the senator's continuing influence.

"He's never worked as an administrator before," Coletrane said. "It goes to show that the same wheels of power are turning."

Interviewed Monday in his office, Wilson, 39, said, "I have no response. No comment."

Prior to working for Lawnside, Wilson was chief of staff for Bryant's longtime ally, Randy Primas, the former state-appointed chief operating officer in Camden. Wilson's employment in Camden ended after Primas resigned last year.” (Guenther, Courier-Post)



“Rockaway Township Councilman Max Rogers lost his bid to be the Republican council candidate in next week's elections, but some members of the sitting council are still supporting him for the seat against the candidate on the ballot.

Paul Minenna. Democratic council members David Press, Barbara Grimaldi and Alexander Gellman said they're supporting Rogers.

Rogers said "the public" was launching a write- in campaign, and "I'm not discouraging what they're doing."” (Saha, Star-Ledger)



“A slate of candidates with once-diverse party affiliations has joined forces on the Democratic ticket to try to break a Republican hold on Bridgewater government.

Retired Bridgewater administrator Bill O'Neill, a registered Republican, switched parties to challenge Republican Mayor Patricia Flannery, who is seeking her second four-year term. Running with O'Neill on the Democratic slate are registered independent Bill Strohmeyer, who served as the township's construction official and Joseph "Tony" O'Reilly, a self-described "life-long Democrat."

The pair are seeking to unseat Republican Councilman Patrick Scaglione and his running mate, board of adjustment member Matthew Moench, to fill two four-year council seats.” (Abdou, Star-Ledger)



“Democratic and independent candidates for Township Committee met with residents Tuesday at Central School, while the three Republican incumbents sat the evening out.

Independents Jeffrey Foster and Clint Hoffman first issued their challenge to Republican committee members Robert Peters, Mary Burne and Michael Clayton at the governing body's Oct. 3 meeting and also asked Democratic candidate Sherri West to participate.” (Biese, Asbury Park Press)



“Quality of life, including the affordability of living in this sprawling 41.9-square-mile township, is the biggest issue in a campaign that has become increasingly contentious among the mayoral candidates as Election Day gets nearer.

For example, Democrats say the township has the third-lowest property taxes among Ocean County's 33 municipalities. Republicans, however, say Berkeley has the fifth-highest tax rate in the county.” (Delaney, Asbury Park Press)



“DOVER — A group of Hispanic town residents urged voters Tuesday to vote "no" on a Nov. 6 ballot question that would extend the terms of the town's aldermen from two years to four years.

Representatives of Dover Citizens United for Responsible Government said the public would best be served if the town's aldermen continue to have to seek re-election every two years.

"It holds them more accountable," said DCURG Coordinator Edward Correa, who convened a press conference Tuesday morning on the steps of Dover Town Hall in an effort to galvanize opposition to the term-extension proposal.” (Scholl, Daily Record)



“In the past year, seats on the Franklin Township Council have swapped ownership like a game of musical chairs.

Four council members resigned, left town, or got kicked off since last fall in Somerset County's most populated town.

And with four spots up for grabs next Tuesday, voters could provoke even more change and dramatically alter the political composition of the council, which recently has veered Democratic.” (Kim, Star-Ledger)



“Fanwood's Democratic mayor is running unopposed in next Tuesday's election, but two Republicans are fighting hard to break onto the all-Democrat borough council.

Incumbents Katherine Mitchell and William Populus aim to ward off GOP challengers well-known to Fanwood voters: Anthony Parenti, a longtime Fanwood police chief, and Joel Stroz, an attorney who ran for council in 2004.” (Rothman, Star-Ledger)



“With two seats on the Springfield Township Committee up for grabs, political control of the governing body is at stake in November.

While Republicans hold only one seat on the five-member committee, a sweep could give them a majority — although whether that will happen is debatable. GOP Township Committeeman Steven Grau has endorsed fellow Committeeman Bart Fraenkel, a Democrat, and should voters agree with him and end up splitting their ticket, Democrats would still retain control.” (Gluck, Star-Ledger)

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