UNION – A line of politicians and friends spilled out of Kean Hall tonight, patiently awaiting their time with Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), who at a table in the front of the room signed copies of his new book, "The Road to Abolition: How New Jersey Abolished the Death Penalty."
"I learned how to do book-signings from McGreevey," cracked the veteran legislator, whose slim, soft-cover volume recounts the Legislature’s 2007 demolition of the New Jersey law that once sent Bruno Hauptmann to the electric chair.
Public faces in the crowd included Gov. Jon Corzine and Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex).
When Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello entered the room, Lesniak effused with a grin, "Welcome to the home of the power brokers."
Lesniak has endorsed U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews for U.S. Senate over incumbent U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Cresitello, but this evening he happily embraced Cresitello.
"We’re old friends," explained the mayor.
Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) waited on line to get his book signed, hinting that he wanted to do everything he could to help Lesniak sell copies of "Abolishing the Death Penalty."
"The way to help a guy with a new book is to write an all-out negative critique on the opposite side of the argument advanced by the author," said Rice.
Lesniak took Rice’s hand in greeting before he scrawled off a personalized copy for his senate colleague.
"I’ve known Ray since I was a child, growing up in Union," said Caren Friyer, commissioner with the Essex Utilities Authority. "He’s always been at the forefront. It was the same thing with Superfund legislation. Ray took the lead on that. With him, it’s all about heart and soul."