Lobiondo finds himself vulnerable for the first time, Kornacki on Congress, Washington Post weight in on CD3, Al Leiter says he won’t run, more Republican infighting in Burlington County.
AND JUST WHO MIGHT HIS CHALLENGER BE?
“Winning elections has been little more than a formality over the years for U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd.
He has clobbered every opponent from Vineland to Ventnor, defending his heavily Republican district by racking up 2-to-1 margins of victory in six elections. The last time LoBiondo lost an election, the Nirvana anthem "Smells Like Teen Spirit" monopolized the airwaves and a team from Canada won baseball's World Series.
But Democrats say LoBiondo's salad days of easy victories are over. The district's changing demographics, a groundswell of anti-war sentiment and the possibility of a formidable Democratic contender could give LoBiondo the fight of his political life.
"LoBiondo is definitely vulnerable," said Carrie James, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, based in Washington. Her group's job is to help Democrats beat out Republicans, LoBiondo in particular next year.
LoBiondo endorsed and campaigned for two incumbent Republican state senators, Nicholas Asselta and James "Sonny" Mc-Cullough, who lost big last week against Democratic challengers.
That alone suggests LoBiondo is losing some of his political sway in the sprawling 2nd Congressional District, she said. The 2nd District encompasses all of Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland and Salem counties and parts of Gloucester, Camden and Burlington counties.
The DCCC is ramping up pressure on the congressman, resuscitating its summer ad campaign designed to soften up the incumbent for an as-yet-unnamed Democratic challenger. The group is attacking LoBiondo for supporting President Bush's war policies, among other issues.” (Miller, Press of Atlantic City)
FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO MISS KORNACKI
“The dismissive view of Capitol Hill in the bossist culture of New Jersey politics was best articulated by John V. Kenny, one of several Jersey City mayors to have been involuntarily retired to a federal penitentiary: “How many jobs does a congressman have?”
And yet almost by accident, New Jersey may host three of the most competitive House races in the country next year, becoming a key cog in Democratic efforts to buttress the narrow majority they claimed last fall.
The identity of one targeted Republican has long been known: Mike Ferguson, a thirty-something, fourth-term Congressman once seen as a rising star, narrowly avoided becoming an unexpected casualty of last fall’s Democratic wave. The Democrat he edged out by less than two points, Assemblywoman Linda Stender, is running again—and this time national Democrats are promising to send the kind of financial help they didn’t in 2006.
This being New Jersey, the story of Mrs. Stender’s rise is actually further testament to the low regard party bosses have for national politics.
Just four years ago, the Democratic state senator from the same Central Jersey district she represents in the Assembly was detained in an Atlantic City casino, caught on a security camera making a graphic and unsolicited sexual proposition to a woman he’d never met. When the woman called a police officer over, the solon proved he possessed the same survival instincts of every self-important politician the world over: He asked if the officer knew who he was.
The news broke a few weeks before the election and the senator—under pressure from the Union County political bosses who put him in office in the first place—quickly resigned, allowing the party chiefs to pick his replacement behind closed doors.
Mrs. Stender, supposedly next in line as the district’s assemblywoman, wanted the job. But the bosses wouldn’t hear of it: New Jersey state senators can scotch gubernatorial appointments at will—”senatorial courtesy”—a power that the bosses craved for themselves. So instead of Mrs. Stender, they installed a machine loyalist from Linden whose main qualification was his close ties to that city’s mayor and party boss, a sometime felon named John Gregorio.
But when Mrs. Stender decided she wanted to run for Congress it was a different story. Members of Congress, of course, don’t have senatorial courtesy, meaning Mrs. Stender would be no threat to the bosses, who no longer felt it necessary to use a Linden hack to box her out. In New Jersey, if you can’t beat a local politician who gets too independent, you let him (or her) run for Congress.” (Kornacki, New York Observer)
WASH POST: SAXTON’S RETIREMENT BAD FOR REPUBLICANS
“The news out of New Jersey last week wasn't good for Republicans. Rep. Jim Saxton (R) was retiring, leaving behind a swing district in an area of the country that has grown increasingly inhospitable to Republicans.
While national Republicans did their best to put a brave face on their chances, New Jersey's 3rd joins Arizona's 1st, Illinols' 11th, Minnesota's 3rd, New Mexico's 1st, Ohio's 15th and Ohio's 16th as major pickup targets for Democrats next November………..
Outlook: This is a very tough hold for Republicans — especially in a presidential year. Republicans note that they made gains in Burlington County in last week's state elections including winning an open state Senate seat. Combine the district's Democratic tendencies, the huge cost of television advertising and the huge financial lead national Democrats hold over their Republican counterparts, however, and this seat looks ripe for the taking.” (Cillizza, Washington Post)
EVEN IF HE DID DECIDE TO RUN, REMEMBER BRIAN PROPP?
“Retired baseball pitcher Al Leiter wants to set the record straight: he will not be a candidate to replace Jim Saxton in Congress next year.
The 42-year-old Ocean County native acknowledged his interest in seeking public office someday, and said that he appreciated the attention his potential candidacy has received since Saxton announced that he would not seek re-election.
"I'm not saying I'm not interested, but I'm also aware of what it takes and what the whole gain of it would be, and I'm not prepared for that at this time," Leiter told PoliticsNJ.com in a phone interview.
Almost immediately after Saxton announced his retirement, Leiter's name was raised as a potential replacement, which would have provided Ocean County with a much needed celebrity candidate to counter Burlington County's Diane Allen, a state Senator well-known throughout the New Jersey portion of Philadelphia's television market due to her years as a news anchor on the city's CBS affiliate.
It wasn't long after the Saxton announcement that Leiter was contacted by Ocean County GOP Chairman George Gilmore, although he said Gilmore didn't ask him specifically about Saxton's seat – just his interest in politics.
"They're just curious and I'm trying to put the foot in the water," said Leiter. "As I told them, there is an interest — I'm just not ready yet."” (Friedman, PoliticsNJ.com)
REPUBLICANS ENJOYING THEIR BIG WIN IN BURLINGTON
“After feasting on the Democratic Party in the 8th district general election a week ago, Republicans promptly turned on each other in a continuing family fracas that today brought out a normally under-the-radar Republican operative who lit into Assemblywoman-elect Dawn Marie Addiego.
Irritated by Acting Party Chairwoman Dawn Lacy's post Election Day firing of two campaign strategists, Addiego on Tuesday issued a staunch-the-bleeding letter to Evesham Republicans in which she praised the "leadership" of Campaign Chairman Bill Layton and Campaign Manager Chris Russell – and ripped Lacy.
"I have never been involved in a campaign where the staff, who won the day, was treated in such a disrespectful and disgraceful manner," Addiego wrote. "This was not only uncalled for, but also a slap in the face to everyone who participated in our election. In fact, it was Senator-elect Haines, Assemblyman-elect Rudder, Sheriff Stanfield, Freeholder-elect Donnelly and myself, who hired Bill Layton and Chris Russell, not the acting-chairwoman…………
But campaign worker Jason Carty, a 30-year old union fireman and Lacy backer who spearheaded the Republicans' GOTV efforts in the 8th district, issued his own letter in response, depicting the assemblywoman-elect as a vain and unwilling campaigner.
Carty also revealed his own particular campaign season disregard for Layton, a close friend and confidant of GOP boss and former party chairman Glenn Paulsen………
In your letter you talk about the campaign staff ‘being treated in a disrespectful and disgusting manner'," Carty wrote to Addiego. "The only disrespect and slap in the face I received was from Bill Layton himself with his constant name-calling and disrespectful manner. He constantly referred to you and every other woman (mostly elected officials) as names I care not to repeat."” (Pizarro, PoliticsNJ.com)
“The field of potential Republican contenders for Rep. Jim Saxton's seat thinned a little Tuesday, when state Assemblyman Christopher J. Connors, newly elected to the state Senate, said he won't seek to replace the 13-term congressman.
GOP insiders had pointed to Connors as a possible candidate. In a written statement, Connors said he was flattered by those who suggested he could run, but said he never entertained the idea himself.
It's a big political opportunity, Connors said, "but the truth of the matter is the 9th Legislative District is my home, and that is where my heart is."
During his campaign to succeed his father, retiring state Sen. Leonard T. Connors Jr., the younger Connors said he had promised to work for constituents in Trenton and could not sacrifice that to a congressional campaign.” (Moore, Asbury Park Press)
HOW MANY VOLUNTEERS PILED INTO THE BACK OF LONEGAN’S PICKUP?
“Steve Lonegan leaned back into a couch in his campaign headquarters and proceeded to claim full credit for the defeat of last week's referendum on stem cell research.
"We were absolutely critical," he said. "I had 2,000 real activists, and we rolled into action on this. That's how we were able to put up 15,000 signs in less than two weeks. If we had more money, we would have beaten the open space referendum, too."
Give the man his moment. Lonegan, the mayor of tiny Bogota borough in Bergen County, is about the only politician who saw that the polls were dead wrong and that voters were fed up with Trenton's promiscuous spending. While most Republicans were barely making a peep, he was out raising money and firing up the volunteers for battle.
And that, in a strange way, presents a problem for Republicans in Trenton. Yes, the stem cell vote showed that voters are in a conservative mood. And yes, Lonegan was the guy with boots on the ground.
But now that Lonegan has earned a seat on the stage, the establishment Republicans have to deal with him. And many of them regard him as the party's crazy uncle who really should stay in the attic.
"He'd be a great governor of Alabama," says one GOP legislator who asked not to be named. "But he's terribly dangerous as the face of our party." ” (Moran, Star-Ledger)
IT HELPS TO PLAY BALL
“The U.S. Attorney's Office has filed a motion to postpone a defamation suit filed against John D'Angelo, a cooperating witness in a federal corruption probe that netted 11 public officials in September.
The motion, signed Nov. 7 by U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, asks to halt the Atlantic County Superior Court proceedings against D'Angelo for 180 days, "so as not to interfere with the significant, ongoing federal corruption investigation and the Prosecutions of New Jersey state and local officials and accomplices in connection with that investigation."
On April 5, Curtis Lackland, CEO of Corporate Employee Benefits, sued D'Angelo and local radio personality Harry Hurley, alleging that D'Angelo and Hurley disseminated false information about Lackland in an attempt to secure a contract for RSC Financial Services with the school board. D'Angelo, formerly of RSC, began cooperating with FBI agents around April 2006 in a federal corruption probe involving several Pleasantville school board members allegedly taking bribes in exchange for securing insurance contracts.
The U.S. Attorney's Office motion claims that certain information, if released during the civil trail, could allow others to potentially obtain information they "wouldn't be entitled to."” (Hardie, Press of Atlantic City)
I HEARD AMIRI BARAKA’S SISTER’S ROOMATE’S UNCLE HAD A PET FISH THAT ONCE BELONGED TO JOE ARIYAN’S LAW PARTNER
“The nation's highest court refused yesterday to hear former New Jersey poet laureate Amiri Baraka's challenge of the state's decision to eliminate the position after he read a controversial poem about the 9/11 terror attacks.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant certification of Baraka's lawsuit against several state officials, letting stand a lower court ruling that the state officials were immune from the suit. Baraka said his First Amendment rights were violated when the position was eliminated five years ago after he read his six-page poem, "Somebody Blew Up America." The reading generated controversy as critics — including Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel — said the poem was anti-Semitic, a claim the poet denies.
Reached by cell phone in Caracas, Venezuela, Baraka said he was outraged by the court's decision, calling it further evidence of a right-wing agenda in government.
"I'm a citizen. How can I not have a claim to First Amendment rights? I thought that was guaranteed by the Bill of Rights," said Baraka, who was at an international book fair to give a speech titled "Is Revolution Possible in the United States?"
"I'm going to read that poem momentarily and explain exactly what these people are doing in the United States and their claim to democracy is false," he said.
Lee Moore, spokesman for the Attorney General's office, welcomed the court's decision not to hear the case.
"We maintained before the Supreme Court that the defendants were entitled to immunity because the repeal of the poet laureate statute was legislative action," he said.” (Coscarelli, Star-Ledger)
MORE MONEY FOR NORCROSS
“George E. Norcross III will receive at least $2 million — and as much as $7.59 million — when Commerce Bancorp Inc. is sold to Toronto-based TD Bank Financial Group.
Norcross, chairman and CEO of Commerce Banc Insurance Services, has until Dec. 1 to strike a deal to buy the insurance subsidiary he heads, a transaction TD Bank said it expected to make when the Canadian company agreed last month to buy Commerce Bancorp for $8.5 billion.
In a 108-page filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Commerce spelled out payments for its top executives, who will be richly rewarded for staying three years after the sale closes. Settlement is expected in April.
Dennis DiFlorio, chairman, would receive the largest check, for $7.63 million. Norcross, Democratic party power broker, would be in line for $7.59 million and Robert Falese, president and CEO, would get $7.33 million. All three already own Commerce stock and options worth millions.
Bank spokesman David Flaherty said he could not comment on the packages or the status of negotiations between TD Bank and Norcross.” (Smith, Courier-Post)
SMART TO BRING THIS UP AFTER THE ELECTION
“Suburban New Jersey communities would be prohibited from pushing affordable-housing requirements on cities under sweeping proposals unveiled yesterday by Assembly Democratic leaders.
Current requirements are designed to help New Jerseyans struggling with some of America's most expensive housing, but many argue that those requirements aren't good enough.
"New Jersey needs to do a better job of providing housing for residents who live on the margins," said Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr. (D., Camden), who released the proposal during a Statehouse news conference.
A historic 1975 state Supreme Court decision requires all New Jersey municipalities to provide housing for low- and moderate-income residents – a ruling praised by those who claim it brings equal housing opportunities but bashed by those who contend it promotes development.
Census data show New Jersey is the second-most-expensive state for homeowners and the fourth-priciest for renters, with monthly housing costs nearly 50 percent higher than national averages.
Current state law allows suburban towns to pay cities to take their affordable-housing requirements.
Those so-called regional contribution agreements have been praised as providing much-needed housing money to poverty-stricken cities, but criticized as unfair to the poor because they limit the chances of getting suburban housing for low-income residents.
Roberts said he wants them eliminated, deeming them discriminatory and an incentive to stockpile poor families in cities.
"They represent awful public policy," Roberts said.” (Hester, AP)
“Accusing congressional Democrats of spending money like "a teenager with a new credit card," President Bush vetoed a $606 billion health and education bill on Tuesday that included several items added by North Jersey lawmakers.
The bill would have provided millions more than the president wanted to spend on job training, medical research, heating subsidies for the poor, grants to community agencies and community health centers and help for schools to improve performance.
It included $210,000 for William Paterson University's foreign language program and $170,000 to the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Northern New Jersey for retiree programs in River Edge.
Earmarks for hospital equipment inserted by North Jersey lawmakers included:
– $320,000 each for Barnert Hospital and St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson.
– $275,000 for Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen.
– $200,000 for Christian Health Care Center of New Jersey in Wyckoff.
– $175,000 each for Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck and Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.
The bill also included $52.5 million to continue providing health care to first responders sickened from exposure at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The funding also would have extended coverage for the first time to nearby residents, workers and students who were not specifically working on "the pile" at the World Trade Center site.” (Bergen Record)
STEM CELL TROUBLE
“The drive to build a statewide stem cell research network stumbled again when the state Economic Development Authority postponed a vote on funding for proposed labs in Newark and Camden yesterday.
Proposals to authorize $3.7 million in preliminary expenditures for the two labs were held from consideration yesterday at the monthly EDA meeting. The delay marks the latest setback for the state's stem cell medical research efforts.
Last week voters rejected a bal lot proposal to borrow $450 million to bankroll a 10-year program of stem cell research grants. Following the defeat, state lawmakers canceled a special budget panel session last Thursday, where they were scheduled to consider authorizing $26 million in financing for five proposed stem cell research labs.
Caren Franzini , EDA executive director, said the stem cell propos als were only pulled from yesterday's agenda because the final de tails of the projects had not been resolved.
"We still had some work to do," she said after the meeting in Camden. She declined to discuss prospects for the stem cell construction program in general, referring questions to Gov. Jon Corzine's office. ” (McNichol, Star-Ledger)
APPARENTLY NOBODY REALLY CARES
“A subcommittee of the Legislature's oft-criticized ethics panel attracted two people to a public hearing Tuesday in its quest for input on how to update the 25-year-old ethics code for lawmakers.
The scant turnout prompted James M. Coleman Jr., who led the subcommittee Tuesday, to muse whether the public truly cares about the Joint Legislative Committee on Ethical Standards that is often panned for inaction.
"Despite the public notice of the meeting, the hue and cry that comes out about this ethics committee that has no teeth, someone might wonder when you have a total of nine people here, including the media, how much interest is really engendered by this," Coleman said.
Herbert Friend, acting chairman of the ethics panel, who wasn't at the meeting because of a family emergency, disagreed.
"There's a lot of interest in ethics today, as evident by the fact that so many people are commenting on it," Friend said in a telephone interview. "The fact that there may not have been much of a turnout today, that may be a failure on our part to get the word out sufficiently, or it just may be that people who are interested couldn't get to the meeting."” (Volpe, Gannett)
THE JOCKEYING TRICKLES DOWN
“LITTLE EGG HARBOR — Township Committeeman Arthur R. Midgley said Tuesday he would like to run for the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders if a seat opens up.
Because John P. Kelly, director of the freeholders, and Freeholder Gerry P. Little have said they are interested in challenging to take the seat of Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., Midgley could get his chance. Saxton has announced that he is retiring when his term expires in 2008.
Midgley, a Republican, began his term as committeeman in 2004, having previously served a term in the late '70s. He said the reasons he wants to be a freeholder are similar to those that spurred him into township office.
"It's a nice town, and I'd like to see it (remain) that way, maintaining the quality of life, (and) keeping it family-oriented. It's a good place to live,
" Midgley said.
However, Kelly and Little are not the only contenders for Saxton's seat. Other names being floated include state Sen. Diane B. Allen, R-Burlington; Virginia E. Haines, former state lottery executive director and current Toms River Republican Club president; Carl W. Block, county clerk and Stafford mayor; and Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari.” (Sastrowardoyo, Asbury Park Press)
SOMERSET COUNTY PARKS DEPARTMENT
“After waiting more than two years for his chance to speak, the Somerset County Park Commission employee accused of taking kickbacks from contractors yesterday took the stand and denied the allegations.
Superior Court Judge Edward Coleman reminded him that he did not have to testify and face cross- examination, but Joseph Martin Lucas Jr. , 40, appeared relaxed as he stood before the judge in Somerville, knowing he'd repeatedly mulled the decision over with family and friends.
Lucas denied ever giving a contractor work just because he was a friend, and said he never gave the commission false information about a contractor's bid. And when asked if he retrieved a bag of cash a contractor allegedly left him under a tree, Lucas, with a smile growing on his face, said, "Absolutely not."
His testimony is expected to continue this morning. Lucas has so far denied the underlying accusations that led the county prosecutor's office to charge him with official misconduct, bribery and falsifying public documents.” (Golson, Star-Ledger)
BALLOT TALLY GLITCH
“The Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders will investigate last week's election problem that prevented the prompt posting of ballot tallies on the county's Web site.
A committee chaired by Atlantic County Freeholder Frank Sutton also will look into possible problems with absentee-ballot use, something panel members said they didn't want to discuss pending a review.
The county was supposed to post regularly updated voting results on its Web site after the polls closed at 8 p.m. Nov. 6, but the numbers weren't posted until well into the next morning.
State and county officials blamed the problem on computer software. County officials said it wasn't the fault of Sequoia Voting Systems, a California-based company from whom the county bought $2.9 million worth of new voting machines and associated equipment in 2005.” (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
“Camden County election officials yesterday conducted a court-ordered count of votes that went missing after poll workers forgot to retrieve electronic cartridges from voting machines on Election Day.
The count, which took place in a warehouse where the machines are impounded after the election, didn't change the outcome of any race or public question, said Ken Shuttleworth, spokesman for the county government.
The count discovered the votes of 114 people who voted on electronic voting machines in Camden and in Gloucester City, Shuttleworth said.” (Hefler, Philadelphia Inquirer)
IN CUMBERLAND COUNTY
“Ron Casella's term as Cumberland County Prosecutor expires in April 2008.
Despite the often-time acrimonious relationship Casella has had with certain members of the Cumberland County Freeholder Board, the former Vineland attorney wants to be appointed to another five-year term, according to Freeholder Lou Magazzu, a person who has been on the other side of a number of disagreements with Casella in the past.
"(Casella) indicated to me his interest in being re-appointed," Magazzu said Tuesday.
Hardly anyone has been more critical of Casella than Magazzu, whose main complaint regarding the prosecutor stems from Casella's decision to sue the county freeholder board in 2004 over underfunding of the county prosecutor's office.
One of the results of the lawsuit was a contract giving raises of up to 33 percent in the first year to detectives employed by the prosecutor.
Freeholder Bruce Peterson said he's ambivalent at this point regarding Casella's re-appointment.
"At some point, the freeholder board's going to have to make some kind of comment about whether they support him or not. I have concerns. I'm not sure that I would (support him)," he remarked. ” (Dunn, Bridgeton News)
ALWAYS WITH THE ABSENTEE BALLOTS IN ATLANTIC COUNTY
“Local Republican committee officials are calling for the county's Board of Elections to recount and review absentee and provisional ballots that heavily favored township Democrats and overturned results from the polls in last week's election.
Republican league municipal leader Terry Lucarelli said Tuesday that she intends to send a letter to the board asking for an official review of the ballots after Republican Township Council candidate James Cox lost his lead to Democratic opponent Jim Gorman after absentee ballots were tallied, according to unofficial numbers from the county.
"I and the members of this campaign that worked so hard this year just want to know what happened," Lucarelli said.
When the final poll numbers came in Nov. 6, Cox held a 94-vote lead over Gorman for the third seat on council. It appeared to be another Republican sweep to maintain their firm grip on the seven-member council, 6-1.
But 249 absentee ballots counted later in the week catapulted Gorman ahead of Cox by 32 votes. Gorman then gained another seven votes from provisional ballots. If the ballots stand, the council makeup will still be Republican dominated, 5-2.” (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)
“Supporters of a recall election said Tuesday that 823 residents had signed petitions seeking the ouster of longtime Second Ward Councilman James McCloskey.
"You're elected by your people. You should listen to them," said Jim Schoner, a petitioner who took issue with McCloskey's support for a controversial sewer project in his ward.
McCloskey, the swing vote on the sewer plan and other key issues, charged that the recall was politically motivated and orchestrated by supporters of Mayor-elect Ted Hussa.
"Every single person who supports the recall is out of Hussa's camp," McCloskey said.
"This is outrageous, really outrageous, what they've done. This is hijacking the system," said McCloskey, adding that he would not resign and would fight his removal” (Jennings, Daily Record)
“Mayor Dennis Deutsch is not about to wallow in regrets. He's going to take up golf and history.
That's what is on his agenda since he was turned out by voters last week after nearly a decade in public service.
Deutsch, who was a councilman for five years and a mayor for four, lost to Republican Councilman John Sapanara by 500 votes.
His Democratic running mates, Ken Rush and Frank Prospero, also were defeated.
"It's a big loss for the community," Deutsch said of Rush and Prospero.” (Yellin, Bergen Record)
“Democrat Mary Aufseeser is officially the winner of the mayoral race, following the certified election results Tuesday, but she may still have to survive a recount.
Aufseeser, 56, triumphed by one vote over Republican Paul Buccellato, 947 to 946. "There's one vote separating us at this point," said Buccellato, who has served as councilman since 2001. "I am seriously contemplating filing a petition for a recount."( Thompson, Asbury Park Press)
“More than 100 people wearing "Frank Bradley Must Go" T-shirts packed Union town hall in a show of opposition to the embattled township administrator.
And township committee members listened Monday night as police union representatives and residents asked why Bradley, a civilian official, should be allowed to wield authority over the police department.” (Jett, Star-Ledger)