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Unanue’s working vacation
As Goya Foods heir Andy Unanue starts his first ever race for elected office, he’ll have an experienced team waiting for him.

Once he gets back from Colorado. (Matt Friedman,

Falling tax revenues spark call for spending freeze
In a sign that the faltering economy is further pinching state finances, nonpartisan legislative analysts believe state tax receipts over the next 15 months will be $134 million below those projected by the Corzine administration just a month ago.

While the discrepancy is small compared to the governor’s recommended $33 billion budget, some fear it could signal a slump in revenues that could worsen as the year unfolds.

“We’re headed for a downturn if we’re not there already,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union), who repeated a previous call for an immediate state spending freeze coupled with more cuts in spending. (Joe Donohue, Star-Ledger)

GOP hopes the dinosaur slayer has arrived

Forget about slaying dragons.

New Jersey’s Republicans are having a difficult enough time trying to knock off someone they say is a dinosaur — 84-year-old Frank Lautenberg, the state’s senior United States senator, who has given every indication he plans to run for re-election, despite the public’s wariness.

No sooner had the most mainstream candidate dropped out of the Republican race this month than two counterpunchers from the party’s conservative flank began lacerating each other.

Now Andrew Unanue, a 40-year-old political novice who is a former chief operating officer at his family’s business, Goya Foods, is hoping to make a late splash. And although Mr. Unanue, who owned a Manhattan nightclub, has been photographed far more often with socialites than with senators, he does have one attribute that the Republican establishment says is crucial to wage a battle against Mr. Lautenberg: a lot of money to finance a campaign. (David W. Chen, The New York Times)

Loyalist versus maverick

Monmouth County Republicans face an important decision at their convention on Wednesday night. In danger of losing control of the Board of Chosen Freeholders, GOP committee people have to decide whether Holmdel Mayor Serena DiMaso or Red Bank Councilman John Curley is the candidate who can win in November.

The Republicans have watched their rivals chip into their turf over the last two election cycles. Democrats edged one seat closer to seizing a majority in 2007 with John D’Amico‘s win. (Max Pizarro,

A failure to communicate
Republican Chris Myers wants to challenge Jack Kelly, his rival in their primary race in the 3rd Congressional District, to a series of debates, and Kelly wants to accept.

The holdup seems to be the way the challenge is being issued.

Myers’ campaign sent a letter to Kelly’s campaign about the debates today. It also sent the letter to, prompting Kelly to pounce on his opponent for being managed in the extreme. (Pizarro,

Holmes has home field advantage
Dwight Holmes remembers the pride he felt playing football and running track for Orange High School. As mayor he would like to help restore that pride to a city reeling from scandal.

“I want Orange pride back in Orange,” said the candidate. “When I was a kid it meant a lot to say you were an Orange Tornado.” (Pizarro,

Allen needs to rest

Despite calls from party leaders urging her to run, Republican state Sen. Diane Allen will not make a bid for U.S. Senate.

Allen, who’s been sick with pneumonia for two months, said that she’s not well enough to forge ahead with a statewide campaign. (Friedman,

If at first you don’t succeed

Frank Turano is running for the Board of Commissioners a second time because he wants to apply common sense business practices to local government. As owner of his own kitchen design business for 30 years, he says he knows something about budgeting and delivering services.

“We have a lot of overhead in Nutley, and I want to consolidate resources while still maintaining the quality of life here,” said the 72-year old Nutley native, owner of Kitchens by Turano. (Pizarro,

Try, try again
Josh Zeitz says he is in position to succeed at a task where 13 predecessors have fallen short: unseating U.S. Rep. Chris Smith.

Zeitz, a Bordentown City resident and Democrat who is challenging Smith in the 4th District, is an author who has written about American history and politics. He sees an opportunity this year against Smith, the 14-term Republican who has represented a swath of central New Jersey since defeating longtime Democratic Rep. Frank Thompson Jr. in 1980. (Andrew Kitchenman, Trenton Times)

Step right up and take your chance in Morris
There have been years when it took Morris County Democrats to the last moment to find candidates to run for Congress in the heavily Republican 11th District. In 1994, the selected candidate never filed a petition on time and the only Democrat on the ballot was a fringe candidate who had gained some notoriety by denying that the Holocaust ever happened. The party had to rally around write-in candidate Frank Herbert to beat that candidate in the primary.

This year, Lew Candura, the Morris County Democratic chairman, ought to be overwhelmed with glee. There are three people who want the party’s nomination for Congress. And you probably didn’t think incumbent Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, R-Harding, was so easy to beat.

The candidates are Tom Wyka of Parsippany, who ran against Frelinghuysen in 2006; Ellen Greenberg of Mendham Township and Harry Hager of Chester Township. All say they will file nominating petitions by the April 7 deadline. (Fred Snowflack, Daily Record)

Ewing mayor finds his voice
Two weeks after threatening to sue the township council for civil rights violations, Mayor Jack Ball has been granted a chance to be heard — and seen — at the council meetings.

Ball, a Republican, took a seat last night alongside the Democratic-controlled council, where he commented briefly on several agenda items during the meeting.

“I’m very happy and very pleased to be part of the council discussions and have the chance to have input at the meetings,” Ball said prior to the meeting.

Ball has been battling to speak at the council meetings since taking office in January 2007. The council has maintained that Ewing’s strong mayor-council form of government does not allow the mayor to speak at will during its monthly meetings. (Lisa Coryell, Trenton Times)

If a Rolls honks outside a courtroom, does a jury hear it?

To critics of former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, the Rolls-Royce he owned was a symbol of selfishness, if not outright corruption.

Where did he get the money for a luxury vehicle when he’d spent his entire career in government service, including two decades at the helm of a city with more than its share of poverty?

But the car is a detail jurors in James’ corruption trial now unfolding in federal court won’t be allowed to hear. (Jeff Whelan, Star-Ledger)

And in other trials of former mayors
David Delle Donna was variously portrayed as a corrupt politician and a victim of lying government witnesses as the Guttenberg mayor’s trial on mail fraud and extortion charges got under way Monday in federal court in Newark.

The trial also involves a key Governor Corzine aide who is expected to testify for the prosecution that he delivered cash contributions to Delle Donna. (Peter J. Sampson, The Record)

Vineland may appeal master plan ruling
City Council will consider authorizing the city to seek a stay of a Superior Court judge’s order invalidating the municipal master plan. It meets tonight in closed session.

Mayor Perry Barse said Monday during a City Hall press conference that, with council’s approval, Vineland could restart the master-plan revision process while it crafts an appeal of the judge’s decision. (Tim Zatzariny Jr., Daily Journal)

Rafferty’s new job
After eight years in the private sector, former Mayor Jack Rafferty is on the verge of stepping back into an official position among Hamilton’s movers and shakers.

Rafferty is poised to take the reins of the Hamilton Partnership, an economic development group made up of local business leaders, following the departure next month of Brian Haney, the group’s current executive director. (Ryan Tracy, Trenton Times)

Manalapan GOP picks committee slate

Local county Republican Committee members on Saturday selected their ticket for the upcoming Township Committee primary election.

They are Ryan Green, a 20-year Manalapan resident and a current school board member, and Bill Garcia, a Manalapan newcomer who works in finance. (Alesha Williams, Asbury Park Press)

Republicans push LBI merger

Two Long Beach Island police departments responsible for less than 2 square miles with less than two dozen officers between them ought to merge, local officials say.

Ship Bottom’s Republican Club is calling on officials there and in neighboring Surf City to consolidate their police departments. Both departments are responsible for patroling areas of less than one square mile each, officials said.

Ship Bottom employs 12 officers including Chief Paul Sharkey, and Surf City has 11 officers including Chief William Collins. (Donna Weaver, Press of Atlantic City)

Former Greenwich Committeeman Hancock dies
Longtime Greenwich Township Committeeman Dan Hancock died Sunday after a long illness.

Hancock, who friends said was 67 years old, served more than 25 years on his hometown’s governing body.

During his life, the local farmer and former mayor gained local renown for more than his political office. Several people who knew him described him as a free spirit. (Daniel Walsh, Press of Atlantic City)

Drivers getting ticket to vote
New Jersey is finally coming up to speed on a 15-year-old law aimed at turning every licensed driver into a registered voter.

Nationally, motor vehicle agencies account for half of all voter registrations, but just 11 percent of new voters in New Jersey registered at a motor vehicle agency.

To increase voter registration, state officials are making a number of changes at Motor Vehicle Commission offices.

Beginning immediately, everyone getting a new license should be handed a voter registration form. And drivers who change their address at a motor vehicle agency will see the change automatically updated on their voter roll. Signs will also be more visibly posted in Motor Vehicle Commission offices, officials said.

The changes, expected to be completed by the end of May, are required by the National Voter Registration Act that Congress passed in 1993. Officials announced yesterday that the state is falling in line after the state Public Advocate found last year that New Jersey was barely complying. (Brad Haynes, Associated Press)

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