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Pennacchio enters U.S. Senate race, Clinton will also visit Hudson County, Testimony brings out details of Karrow/Harcar confrontation, Democratic legislators

Pennacchio enters U.S. Senate race, Clinton will also visit Hudson County, Testimony brings out details of Karrow/Harcar confrontation, Democratic legislators demand monetization details.

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Branding himself the everyman, state Sen. Joe Pennacchio formally entered the race for U.S. Senate today, contrasting himself with the two other candidates for the Republican nomination.

Industrial real estate developer Anne Evans Estabrook has marked her place as the Republican establishment’s choice, putting $1.6 million of her own money into the campaign, gaining the backing of many state officials, and taking away some of Pennacchio’s thunder by announcing the support of National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell less than an hour before Pennacchio’s press conference.

Pennacchio could also lose some more conservative voters to Ramapo College Finance Professor and two time statewide office candidate Murray Sabrin……….

So “Jersey Joe” Pennacchio, as he calls himself, is reaching out with a very simple slogan: “He’s one of us!”……..

Pennacchio said that he was not particularly upset or demoralized by Estabrook’s support from the two powerful out-of-state Senators, although he said that he wished that the process had been more open.

“I’m a Jersey Joe. I’m an average Joe. Ask the average person who Ensign and McConnell are,” said Pennacchio. “If you get one person out of a thousand who knows who they are who’s not an insider, I’ll buy you a steak dinner.”

Pennacchio would not say how much money he’s raised so far, and said that he does not plan to put much of his own money into the race. He and his wife, Diane, have each contributed $2,000 to his campaign fund.

“I would not jump into this campaign unless I could raise enough funds to make it credible. It’s not an auction, it’s an election,” he said. (Friedman,

The son of Italian immigrants, Pennacchio was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.; worked at a pizza parlor while in high school; and attended Brooklyn College and then New York University to become a dentist.

He served as a Morris County freeholder, and in 2001 he joined the Assembly, where he gained a reputation as a hard-liner on taxes. He was elected to the Senate in November.

Pennacchio said he would center his campaign on self-determination.

"Our system of government must protect this right, the right of self-determination. Ultimately, that is what I will be fighting for," he said. "Because it is through self-determination that this country and its people have prospered.” (Burton, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Pennacchio repeatedly stressed his three main issues: "Less taxes. Less government. Peace and security through strength."

The 52-year-old dentist said he has never voted for a tax increase, as a Morris County freeholder or state legislator, and would try to bring that philosophy to federal government.

"I want to run on fiscal issues," he told a crowd of reporters. "I want to make the situation better, so you won't have to mortgage your house to fill up your gas tank."

Estabrook, who is CEO of the Elberon Development Co. real estate firm and former chairwoman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, also portrays herself as an agent of fiscal change.

"New Jersey wants change, not more of the same," Estabrook's campaign manager, Mark Duffy, said after Pennacchio's announcement. "They want somebody like Anne Estabrook, an outsider to politics, who understands finance, jobs, the economy and will work to ease New Jersey's affordability crisis." (Ragonese, Star-Ledger)



U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton will court the New Jersey Latino vote on Wednesday, adding a North Bergen appearance to a Bergen County visit the same day.

Organizers hope the Democratic senator from New York will draw large crowds and numerous prominent Latino politicians.

Several Hispanic groups from around the state have formed an umbrella organization called the Latino PAC Alliance to support Clinton’s candidacy, and they expect more than 1,000 people at the North Bergen rally.

This presidential election is the most important election ever for the Latino community,” Norberto Curitomai, co-chairman of the alliance, said in Spanish. “After what has happened during the past few years to our communities, we need to elect someone who is pro-immigrant and who will address the worsening social and economic crisis in this country — someone with experience on these issues.” (Henry, Bergen Record)



Details of a pre-election scuffle last June between Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow and Raritan Township Committeewoman Chris Harcar began to emerge Wednesday as witnesses, for the first time, described the incident in court………..

At issue is an altercation at a Republican phone-banking event the night of June 3 at Kuhl Corp., the business of Hunterdon County Republican Committee Chairman Henry Kuhl.

Though Muller said the general decision among his running mates was to investigate the next day why the county GOP chairman would apparently support one slate of candidates over another, he said Harcar "still felt strong enough that she wanted to find out what was going on."

During her nearly three hours of testimony, Harcar said she arrived at Kuhl Corp. between 8:30 and 8:45 p.m. as her 19-year-old son Peter waited outside in the car. Harcar said she exchanged pleasantries with county Administrator Cynthia Yard and freeholder Clerk Denise Doolan — the only people in the room, according to Harcar — before taking a phone script from Doolan's desk and studying how it was written.

Harcar said she wanted to attend the event in part to pick up a list of phone numbers to distribute to other party members who could get out the vote from home and to show her son a sample call. She also said she "was curious as to who the Republican Party was supporting."

At that point, Harcar testified, Karrow stormed into the room exclaiming that Harcar was trespassing and wasn't welcome at the event. Then, according to Harcar, Karrow shoved Harcar into a nearby counter, held her "very harshly" and ripped the script from her hand. In the process, Harcar claimed Karrow broke one of her arms and caused a "terrible abrasion."

"I was so shocked, I immediately left," she said.(Lausch, Courier-News)



With a new poll showing public skepticism about Gov. Jon Corzine's plan to restructure state finances through higher tolls, Senate Democrats said yesterday they want administration officials to tell them more about the proposal at a hearing next week.

The administration announced last night it will provide added details today by releasing a study it used to determine how much tolls should rise. Republicans had sued to try to force the administration to provide the study before the Nov. 6 legislative elections.

"Our plans are to release it," said Treasury Department spokesman Tom Vincz.

Senate Democrats said they have invited administration officials and others to testify at a Senate Budget Committee hearing on the plan next Wednesday at the Statehouse

Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), chairwoman of the powerful committee, said of the proposal, "If this is designed to cure our fiscal ills, we really need to see what's on every shelf in the medicine cabinet."

Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) said that with Corzine asking to have the complex plan approved by March, the Legislature has "a long way to go in a relatively short amount of time.

"The more answers we get beyond 'Debt is Killing Us 101,' the better chance we'll have to move forward," Codey said. (Donohue and Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)

Senate Budget Chair Barbara Buono, Senate President Richard Codey and Senate Majority Leader Stephen Sweeney urged the administration to appear before the budget committee Wednesday when a hearing is held on the governor's proposal.

"I think we all want to cooperate and assist the governor, but we can't do it on a promise," said Sweeney, D-3 of West Deptford. "We need to see what was looked at and what options were dismissed. The governor's given us the framework, now's the time to provide the details."

Corzine gave an overview of the proposal in his State of the State address Jan. 8, but has yet to release the corresponding legislation to lay out specifics.

Through a spokeswoman, Corzine said Thursday that further details will be forthcoming, but offered no timeline for the information.

"We look forward to getting a bill to the Legislature as soon as possible," spokeswoman Lilo Stainton said in a statement. "And we are prepared for and look forward to continuing a dialogue with lawmakers on the specifics of the governor's plan to restructure state finances and reduce state debt." (Graber, Gloucester County Times)



New Jersey Republicans who had signed on with Mitt Romney looked as though they were heading straight for the triage unit going into Michigan on Tuesday when their presidential candidate came alive and beat the surging Sen. John McCain.

"It was the first state in the mix that looks like America, and he won it by ten points," state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, Romney’s state chairman in New Jersey, said of Romney’s performance in the ethnically diverse mid-western state.

"Mitt had a gun to his head, but the game plays out," added Kyrillos, who’s been affiliated with Kyrillos for over a year now, and who stumped for him in New Hampshire only to watch his candidate cross the finish line in second place behind McCain on Jan. 9th.

Kyrillos maintains that Romney is the only candidate whose finances and organization have enabled to compete in all of the states so far. By contrast, "Huckabee and Rudy have cherry picked states in which to compete," Romney said of the campaigns of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

On Saturday, Romney can win Nevada’s primary, said Kyrillos. Meanwhile, he added, Huckabee and fellow Southerner former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson have to win in South Carolina in order to stay relevant.(Pizarro,


Questions about sexual history should be off-limits and pretrial depositions sealed to avoid embarrassment, according to motions filed by former Gov. Donald DiFrancesco in the sex-harassment suit against his law firm.

DiFrancesco, state Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R-Somerset) and their firm want a state Superior Court judge to issue a sweeping "protective order" that would, among other things, shield much of the evidence to be collected before the case goes to trial.

They want the judge to limit questioning during depositions; restrict access to the firm's financial and personnel records and prohibit the release of videotaped depositions.

"These limitations are essential given plaintiff's counsel's demonstrated intent to try her allegations against well-known New Jersey political figures Donald DiFrancesco and Christopher Bateman in the press," Amalfe wrote. The limitations, she said, are designed "to prevent unwarranted embarrassment." (Margolin, Star-Ledger)



The state agency that runs the Meadowlands Sports Complex yesterday voted to bring back its former spokesman, the first in a series of hires that is expected to boost staff expenses by nearly $2 million.

The sports authority's board approved hiring John Samerjan as vice president for communications, a post he held from 1989 until 2002.

"It's a position that we couldn't allow to remain vacant," said Carl Goldberg, the board's chairman. "Having someone of John's experience with communications, media relations, public relations, is just critical." (McDermott, Star-Ledger)



As a poll confirmed that Gov. Corzine's plan to increase road tolls to cut debt and fund transportation would be a tough sell to New Jersey residents, a key senator said yesterday that she could not support placing tolls on Route 440.

Sen. Barbara Buono, the Senate budget committee chairwoman, said that putting tolls on Route 440 – a four-mile Middlesex County road that links the New Jersey Turnpike and a Staten Island bridge crossing – was unacceptable.


"It's a nonstarter," said Buono (D., Middlesex), who will play a lead role in how Corzine's plan proceeds. "That's one element of the plan that I could not support."

Buono is the latest – and highest-ranking – state senator to decry tolls on Route 440. Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D., Union) told the Star-Ledger of Newark that he also opposed tolls on Route 440.

Buono has scheduled the first legislative hearing on Corzine's plan to pay at least half of $32 billion in state debt and fund transportation projects through increased tolls. (Hester, AP)



Rudy Giuliani's black SUV stirred up a cloud of dust as it raced along the twisting dirt roads to the hunting lodge at the Wild Creek Safari Club.

This is not the Florida pictured in travel brochures. The hunting lodge sits a few hundred yards from the border of Georgia, and the churchgoing people who come here speak with thick Southern accents you'd never hear in Miami.

For Giuliani, it is not a natural fit. But he's come here because Florida is now the only hope he has to rescue a campaign that seems to be slipping from his grasp.

His poll numbers are dropping like a rock everywhere. He is so short of money that his senior staff is working without pay. And as the Iraq war recedes in the minds of voters, his attempt to pitch himself as the modern Winston Churchill is losing some of its resonance.

Still, as anyone who watched him crack New York City into shape can testify, Rudy is one determined fighter. And if winning means he has to hide his long history of sturdy support for gun control, then so be it.

So he stood in front of the lodge's fireplace, under a mount of a giant elk, with a statue of an attacking wild boar on the mantel over his right shoulder. And he told the 100 or so hunters who crowded into the lodge that every red-blooded American has the right to own a gun. (Moran, Star-Ledger)



If two commuters from New Brunswick get on the New Jersey Turnpike at Interchange 9 every day and drive 22 miles to work, would they shoulder the same burden under Gov. Jon Corzine's proposed toll hike?

Not if they drive in different directions.

Since the full length of the Turnpike first opened in 1952, the tolls on the northern part of the road have been higher than tolls on the southern part. And if the governor wins legislative approval for his plan to use steeply higher tolls to pay down the state's debt and fund future transportation projects, the gap between northern and southern tolls will grow even wider.

The New Brunswick commuters illustrate the point.

If one of the commuters gets on at Interchange 9 and drives 22 miles south to Interchange 7A, she would pay 80 cents for the toll. She would see the cost of her daily round-trip tolls climb by $11.10 between now and 2022 under Corzine's plan, according to Star-Ledger calculations.

But if the other New Brunswick commuter gets on at Interchange 9 and drives those 22 miles in the opposite direction — north to Interchange 14 in Newark — he would pay a $2.05 toll and see the cost of his daily round-trip tolls climb by $28.80. (Feeney, Star-Ledger)


A group of employees not affiliated with any city labor union recently received pay increases that add up to about $63,000.

Mayor Scott Evans signed an executive order earlier this month approving 4 percent salary hikes for 23 city employees to coincide with the increase mapped out in the re sort's agreement with the labor unions during City Council President William Marsh's time as mayor.

Evans characterized the raises as cost-of-living increases.

"These are unclassified employees, they're not covered by the bargaining agreement," he said. "If this didn't happen, they'd never get raises."

But some of the employees had already undergone recent promotions and subsequent pay increases, including acting City Solicitor Anthony Swan, whose salary now jumps over the $100,000 mark, making nearly $4,000 more than his former $98,400 salary. Swan was promoted to solicitor last October after Marsh fired Solicitor Kim Baldwin during his 40-day mayoral term. Swan's salary was bumped up by $13,400 from what he made as the deputy solicitor. (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)


To the freeholders, a new state law that gives certain county employees a raise whenever Superior Court judges get a raise defies logic.

The sentiment was not only echoed by members of the Salem County Board of Chosen Freeholders at their meeting this week, it was written into the text of a resolution adopted unanimously.

The resolution requests that Gov. Jon S. Corzine veto the bill passed by the Legislature mandating the increase of judicial salaries, prosecutors' salaries and county constitutional officers' salaries, but that bill was signed into law on Monday by Corzine.

While the board did not express a concern with the pay hike of judges and prosecutors an increase paid for by the state it did however object to a raise for the county clerk, surrogate and sheriff, the county's three constitutional officers. By a law established in 2001, the officers must receive a mandatory minimum of 65 percent of what Superior Court judges make. (Clark, Today’s Sunbeam)


PRINCETON TOWNSHIP — The campaign to keep new housing and soccer fields from historically venerated ground fought over in the pivotal Revolutionary War Battle of Princeton on Jan. 3, 1777, has gotten a fresh round of reinforcements — from the National Park Service.

The federal agency last year rated the Princeton Battlefield National Historic Landmark as among "the most historically significant and most endangered" Revolutionary War battlefield in the country.

That's according to a Dec. 27 letter from National Park Service Historical Architect Bill Brookover to battlefield conservationists and New Jersey officials.

"The events that transpired on that property resulted in the birth of our nation," said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Princeton Borough, who provided The Times a copy of the Dec. 27 letter yesterday.

"We hear so many stories of major battlefields being taken over by development and here we have an opportunity to save this historically significant battlefield," Gusciora said. (Stern, Trenton Times)


PEQUANNOCK — The son of a Superior Court judge in Passaic County is believed to be responsible for 13 home burglaries in the township and others in Wayne and Little Falls that occurred over the past five months, authorities said Thursday.

Miguel de la Carrera, 28, of West Paterson, was arrested after authorities linked him to a stolen computer with a tracking system and to the sale of some of the other stolen items at a Paterson pawn shop, Pequannock police said.

De la Carrera, who shares his first and last names with his jurist father, was charged with one count of receiving stolen property by township police through Paterson Municipal Court.

Further charges in the township are pending, police said.(Schneider, Daily Record)



The five township committee members have agreed to forgo their $500 yearly stipends to illustrate the tight budget situation the town faces in 2008.

One committeeman even volunteered to temporarily fill the job of a retiring employee who earned $70,000 in a further effort to avert one outlay for the 2008 budget. (Van Dyk, Daily Record)


Mayor Walt Craig is running for re-election in November, and his running mate last time, Deputy Mayor Robert Nolan, is also leaning heavily toward seeking another term. Former Republican Mike Beck, meanwhile, said he is considering a bid for the mayor's seat as an independent and is currently looking for a running mate.

While Craig and Nolan likely will make up the Republican ticket – although they still must seek approval from Republican committee members – it's still unclear who the Democrats will pick. Robert Hartman Sr., a retired police officer here who ran four years ago, said he wants to run again if the party will have him. No other candidates have come forward for the Democrats, but Richard Fellows, the party chairman, said it is still early. (Degener, Press of Atlantic City)


The township school board will elect two new members next week to replace Robert Warney and Joy Tozzi, who have tendered their resignations.

Warney, a former board president, has been named director of Engineering, Planning, and Inspections for Hamilton by Mayor John Bencivengo.

The departure of Tozzi, also a former board president who ran with Warney on a GOP-backed slate in 2005, came as a surprise to some board members. She did not cite the reason for her departure in her letter of resignation. (Tracy, Trenton Times)


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