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Giuliani’s imminent departure from the race leaves New Jersey open for Republicans, Bill Clinton tones down the rhetoric in New Jersey visit, Clinton and Obama to begin running ads today in New York and Philadelphia TV markets.


Rudy Giuliani's Florida flame-out turns delegate-rich New Jersey, once considered his for the taking, into a prize up for grabs between John McCain and Mitt Romney.

As returns from the Florida Republican primary showed the former New York mayor finishing a distant third last night, Republican officials told the Associated Press that Giuliani would quit the race today and endorse McCain, the senator from Arizona……….

Giuliani had staked his bid for the presidency on a win in Florida, hoping it would propel him into next week's Super Tuesday, when New Jersey and 19 other states will hold Republican contests. But his poll numbers have been sinking steadily nationwide since his decision not to campaign hard in Iowa and New Hampshire allowed the other candidates to grab the spotlight……….

State Sen. Kevin O'Toole (R-Bergen), a McCain supporter, said yesterday several of his counterparts in the Giuliani camp had already raised the issue of throwing their support to McCain. He would not identify them.

"A number of county chairs, and some prominent legislators as well, have said to me and to others, 'Is there room on the McCain train for us?'" O'Toole said. "And the answer is an unequivocal yes."

State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), the chairman of Romney's New Jersey campaign, said Giuliani's "collapse" in Florida scrambles the race in the Garden State. "Rudy needed to win Florida," Kyrillos said. "Now it's wide-open." (Mueller, Star-Ledger)


After receiving criticism for his role in his wife's presidential campaign in New Hampshire and South Carolina, former President Bill Clinton stuck to a lawyerly script in Blackwood today, exactly one week before New Jersey's Feb. 5 primary.

"You must vote for someone not just to make history, but for someone who's going to build the future," said Clinton, in the one unnamed reference to Sen. Hillary Clintons chief opponent, Sen. Barack Obama.

In his second New Jersey appearance for his wife's campaign in as many months, Clinton told an email-mobilized crowd of 1,500 in Camden Community College's Papiano Gym that the most important reason to elect his wife as the Democratic presidential nominee is because she is a "proven change agent.”……….

Arguing the "change agent" message, Clinton said that after Hillary Clinton graduated from Yale Law School, the future senator and first lady went to knock on the doors of poor people's homes as a member of the Children's Defense Fund.

In the aftermath of the Clinton Administration's universal healthcare defeat on Capitol Hill, "Hillary went to work with Congress to secure healthcare for 6 million children with SCHIP (State Children's Health Insurance Program)," said Clinton. (Pizarro,

But Clinton's tone was softer at the rally in Camden County. Even CNN took notice. In its nightly political report, it characterized Clinton as "gentler in Jersey."

And in a state where Clinton has a 17-point lead over Obama in the polls, the crowd was not nearly as fervent as it might be if the race were more competitive. In fact, as Clinton stepped to the podium, Gov. Jon Corzine, who introduced Clinton in something of a surprise appearance, exhorted the crowd to applaud by waving his right fist in the air.

"I hear we want change, and we do," Corzine said. "We want George Bush out of the White House."

If not exuberant, the crowd was large and loud. The campaign counted 1,500 people, more than half students, packed into the gymnasium. Another 400 were in an "overflow" room in a separate building, watching the speech on a live feed. Clinton took note of the line that had formed four blocks outside the doors to the gym. (Howlett, Star-Ledger)


Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton take to the airwaves today in their quests to win the votes of New Jerseyans in Tuesday's presidential primary.

Yesterday both campaigns unveiled commercials that will air on New York and Philadelphia stations, reaching voters throughout the Garden State.

The Obama ad features an endorsement by Caroline Kennedy, who compares the Illinois senator to her father, President John F. Kennedy.

Clinton says in her ad: "What I try to do every day is to figure out how to help somebody."

"Each of the candidates is playing to their acknowledged strengths," said Brigid Harrison, professor of political science at Montclair State University. "Hillary is talking about her lifetime's worth of experience, while Obama is playing on his charisma and the idea of this time being a moment of change historically." (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)


After alienating some Hillary fans, he bites his tongue

Bill Clinton sounded like a chastened man.

He stepped onto the stage slowly, then marched through most of his speech without emotion, like a kid forced to finish a homework assignment he detests. Over and over, he interrupted the crowd's polite applause to move on to this next sentence.

This was the well-behaved Bill Clinton, speaking to a throng in Camden yesterday with only polite things to say on behalf of his wife's campaign.

It was not the Bill Clinton who electrified audiences during his two presidential campaigns. And it was most definitely not the snarling Bill Clinton who spent his time in South Carolina digging his teeth into the ankle of his wife's chief rival, Sen. Barack Obama. (Moran, Star-Ledger)


From the spectacle of a visit by a former president to the buzz of informal gatherings in living rooms and coffee shops across New Jersey, Democrats find themselves in a competitive Democratic presidential primary for the first time in a generation.

For years, New Jersey served as a political A.T.M., as presidential candidates would visit wealthy contributors to raise money but rarely campaign because of the late primary. But last year, New Jersey officials moved the primary up to put the state where it finds itself today, at a pivotal point in the nomination fight between Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

So on Tuesday morning at Camden Community College here, hundreds of people waited in line outside the school gymnasium as security guards screened the crowd of close to 1,000 and helicopters whirred overhead, awaiting the chance to see Bill Clinton make his first campaign appearance since his combative approach dominated much of the campaigning in South Carolina and Nevada.

“We can turn America around,” Mr. Clinton said, promising that his wife could restore the peace and prosperity that marked much of his two terms as president. “We’ve done it before. She will lead us in doing it again.”

Three hours later, with Mr. Clinton off to his next stop in Ohio, two of Mr. Obama’s most visible supporters in New Jersey, Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark and State Senator John H. Adler of Cherry Hill, countered with a pointed critique of Mr. Clinton’s message.

Yet as supporters of the two leading candidates gathered their forces, pollsters and many party leaders questioned how competitive the race here would be.

“This is a whole new territory,” said Joseph Marbach, a political science professor at Seton Hall University. “Even the political establishment is a little bit unsure of what the turnout could be.” (Kocieniewski, New York Times)


PARSIPPANY — With the field of presidential candidates narrowing down, a group of conservative legislators and GOP leaders on Tuesday threw their support behind Mitt Romney to become the Republican nominee.

As others waited for results from the Florida primary to show who might get front-runner status, state Assemblymen Michael Patrick Carroll, R-Morris Twp., and John Webber, R-Morris Plains, joined several other state GOP leaders to call for conservatives to unify behind the former Massachusetts governor in the Feb. 5 New Jersey primary.

"He alone could be the person to unite all factions of the Reagan coalition," said state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, who is chairman of the New Jersey Romney for President campaign. (Padmanabhan, Daily Record)




BRIDGEWATER — Two-term Township Councilman Michael Hsing has joined the growing list of candidates for the Republican nomination for the House of Representatives in the 7th Congressional District.

Hsing joins a crowded field that includes state Sen. Leonard Lance, Kate Whitman — daughter of former Gov. Christie Whitman — Scotch Plains Mayor Martin Marks, Warren Mayor Victor Sordillo, former Hillsborough Deputy Mayor Chris Venis, former Summit councilwoman Kelly Hatfield and Tom Roughneen of Watchung.

Incumbent Mike Ferguson announced in November that he would not seek re-election. The district includes portions of Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Union counties.

The Republican nominee will be decided in the June 6 primary election. The Democratic candidate is expected to be Assemblywoman Linda Stender, who came close to defeating Ferguson in the traditionally Republican district in 2006.

"I want to serve the people instead of govern them, and solve problems instead of talking about them. I believe voters are ready for change, and I'm prepared to deliver it," Hsing said.



MOORESTOWN — The chairman of the Burlington County Bridge Commission was charged Thursday with driving while intoxicated and other motor vehicle offenses after a vehicle he was driving crashed into mailboxes on Brooks Road, police said.

John Comegno, 35, of Murray Road in Moorestown was arrested after officers found his vehicle stuck on a mailbox along Brooks Road at 10:23 p.m., police said. The officers had gone to Brooks Road after receiving a report that a vehicle had struck mailboxes along the road, police said.

No injuries were reported.

Police did not say how many mailboxes were damaged. (Levinsky, Burlington County Times)


NORTHFIELD – People who want to distribute literature or carry signs to protest or support the governor's proposed toll-hike plan can do so when the governor holds a town meeting on the subject in Atlantic County next month.

Those activities will take place in a cafeteria next to the atrium outside the Walter Edge auditorium at Atlantic Cape Community College, or ACCC, college officials told the Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders here Tuesday.

While discussions with State Police regarding Gov. Jon S. Corzine's town hall meeting Feb. 7 are still under way, ACCC officials said they'll do everything they can to make sure constitutional rights of free speech are enforced while making sure public safety is maintained. (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)



Welcome to New Jersey's 2008 presidential primary, held four months earlier than normal.

Now, join Cape May County Board of Elections Registrar Joy Erb in saying, please, please, please don't snow.

Tuesday's primary raises new concerns as more than 20 states picked the middle of winter for primaries or caucuses.

In New Jersey, the earlier primary is meant for the state to have a greater impact in picking party nominees for president. But it doesn't snow in June.

For the record, the National Weather Service predicts a rather warm Feb. 5 in Cape May Court House, with a chance of showers, mostly cloudy and a high near 53 degrees. (Ianieri, Press of Atlantic City)


Chris Myers won an important endorsement today in his quest for the Republican nomination to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton, getting the support of the Camden County Republican Chairman Rick DiMichele and the Cherry Hill Republican Committee.

The third district’s Republican voters come in roughly equal numbers from Ocean and Burlington County, which both have powerful Republican machines. Burlington backs Myers, while Ocean County backs his chief rival, Freeholder Jack Kelly. Camden County only has one town in the district: Cherry Hill, which leans Democratic but has 5,900 Republicans — enough to play an important role in the primary.

About two weeks ago, DiMichele and the Cherry Hill Republican committee members met with Myers, who works as mayor of Medford and a Vice President at Lockheed Martin, and Kelly.

“After careful deliberation, we decided that Chris Myers was clearly the better choice for both Cherry Hill Republicans and the people of the 3rd Congressional District,” said DiMichele. “He’s far and away the best Republican to take on John Adler and the Camden County Democrats this November and help us continue the revitalization of the Republican Party here in Cherry Hill.” (Friedman,




A program that promotes cultural understanding among youths honored Ocean County Freeholder Jack Kelly on Thursday for his efforts to help at-risk children.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Otis Davis, spokesman for Outta-Bounds, presented Kelly with a gold medal award from the program, which promotes cross-cultural understanding among suburban and inner-city youths through a basketball tournament and lunch accompanied by discussions about temptations such as drugs and alcohol.

Kelly, who serves as director of law and public safety, said he was honored to receive the award.

Kelly's work with the Truth About Gangs, or TAG, program earned him that distinction, according to a statement from the Ocean County Office of Public Affairs. (Previti, Press of Atlantic City)


An Oscar-nominated documentary about a dying woman's fight to transfer her pension for her partner will screen at 2 p.m. today at The College of New Jersey in Ewing.

"Freeheld" tells the story of Laurel Hester, a gay lieutenant for Ocean County Prosecutor's office who was found to have terminal cancer in 2005. The 38-minute film follows Hester's battle with the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders over its decision to refuse the transfer of Hester's pension to her partner, Stacie Andree. Hester ultimately succeeded in doing so before she died in 2006 at age 49. (Previti, Press of Atlantic City)




The Mercer County Republican Committee last night decided not to endorse any candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

Meeting last night at La Villa restaurant, roughly 70 GOP constituents discussed the pros and cons of the six Republican candidates.

Though Sen. John McCain received the most votes with 32 supporters, it was not enough to declare a majority of 34 votes. Candidates Rudy Guiliani and Ron Paul each received 17 votes.

Mercer County GOP chairman Roy Wesley said the endorsement is more of a local tradition than an actual helping hand during the campaign season.

"It's more of a formality that we hope will guide people in Mercer County on who to vote for," Wesley said. (Rich, Trenton Times)


HAMILTON — Warning of the potential for program cuts and layoffs, first-term Mayor John Bencivengo warned the township's business community yesterday of tough financial times to come.

Bencivengo made the dire predictions during his first State of the Township address since taking office on Jan. 1. Bowing to fiscal realities, Bencivengo outlined few new programs, instead preferring to focus the majority of his speech on the tough decisions to come.

"In the coming months we will examine every service that this government provides," Bencivengo told more than 200 members of the Hamilton branch of the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce. "Decisions, difficult decisions, will have to be made about which services are essential, which are desirable, if cost-effective, and which we may choose to eliminate."

Among the only new initiatives included in the speech was Hamstat, the productivity and efficiency tracking system the mayor said is used in several larger cities nationwide, and the new 311 call service for complaints. Both initiatives have already been announced by the administration. (Isherwood, Trenton Times)


A former borough administrator claims he was unlawfully terminated from his position, slandered by the mayor, and discriminated against because of his age and Irish heritage.

William Sheridan, 60, is seeking damages for lost pay, benefits and pain and suffering, according to a letter written to the borough council by his attorney, David Ben-Asher, who filed a notice of intent to sue with the borough in November 2007.

Sheridan worked for the borough from January through September of last year. During that time, the letter claims other town employees insinuated he was too old for his job and discriminated against him.

"Mr. Sheridan's ancestry is Irish, in contrast to that of all of the councilmen and most of the town's employees and residents, which is Italian," his lawyer wrote, asserting Sheridan's age and ancestry were the "primary motivating factor" in the "unjustified" decision to discharge him. The tort claim also accuses Mayor Joseph Nametko of making slanderous statements about Sheridan's performance. (Star-Ledger)


An unscheduled discussion on aspects of the planned closure of Fort Monmouth broke out in the midst of a U.S. Senate Budget Committee hearing today.

While answering questions from committee members about the long-term outlook of the federal budget, U.S. Comptroller General David M. Walker – head of the Government Accountability Office – defended the GAO's integrity after being questioned by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

Menendez, a member of the committee, questioned Walker about e-mails obtained by the Asbury Park Press that were sent by Craig College – the Army's deputy assistant chief of staff for installation management. In the messages to other Army brass, College said the GAO was "on our side,'' regarding the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure commission recommendation to close Fort Monmouth by 2011. (Brown, Asbury Park Press)


In what police describe as "an unusual case," former Republican Councilman and Mayor Jamie O'Neill faces a non-criminal charge of assault by auto for allegedly hitting a 14-year-old girl with his truck on Oct. 30.

O'Neill, who declined to comment Tuesday, has pleaded not guilty to the disorderly person offense and is scheduled to appear Tuesday in Closter Municipal Court. Cases involving a past or current public official must be heard outside of the town where the person held or holds office.

Dumont police initially described the incident near Dance Boulevard and West Madison Avenue as a hit-and-run. (Tomgoren, Bergen Record)


Drunken-driving charges against Atlantic City Councilman Tim Mancuso stemming from an April 21 incident on the Atlantic City beach may be dismissed if the city does not provide discovery information within 45 days.

That possible outcome came from Cape May Municipal Court Judge Peter Tourison on Tuesday after Mancuso's case was again delayed because defense attorney Fredric L. Bor and Municipal Prosecutor Jennifer Russo-Belles have not received the information requested from Atlantic City.

Bor, meanwhile, is also questioning whether the two alcohol breath tests Mancuso allegedly failed are even his client's and said there are political implications in the case. (Degener, Press of Atlantic City)


Borough Clerk Linda Cottrell never has a day when she just doesn't want to talk to anyone.

"I like working with people," Cottrell, 62, said during a recent interview at the borough hall.

Those people — members of the public and particularly her co-workers — are what the lifelong Freehold Township resident says she will miss the most when she retires this week, after more than 7 1/2 years as the public face of Freehold.

Cottrell's assistant, Traci DiBenedetto, has been chosen as the new borough clerk. Cottrell, meanwhile, said that this Friday she will begin working part time on a records management project the borough started in 2006. (Predham, Asbury Park Press)


Council members have elected Republican Vincent Esposito to fill the three-year council seat vacated by new Mayor Mary-Anna Holden.

The council voted 4-0 at its meeting Monday night to elect Esposito over two other candidates–former mayor Gary Ruckelshaus and former councilman Ed Rebholz–to serve the remaining two years of Holden's term. (Star-Ledger)

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