Wake-Up Call: Friday, May 30, 2008

With the PolitickerNJ.com Wake-Up Call e-mailed to your inbox, phone, Blackberry or PDA first thing in the morning, you can get a rundown of New Jersey’s top political headlines. Sign up to get the Wake-Up Call delivered every morning.

Age the rage at Democratic debate
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D- N.J.) and the congressman challenging him for the Democratic nomination, Rep. Rob Andrews (D- 1st Dist.), clashed over age and support for the war in Iraq as they met in their first debate last night.

During a 90-minute radio show on New Jersey 101.5 FM, Lautenberg told Andrews, “You ought to tell the truth, you were the cheerleader for the war.” Andrews in turn said the senator also supported the war initially and “has completely misrepresented his position.”

Later the 84-year-old Lautenberg asked Andrews why he “persisted” in making age a campaign issue. (Robert Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)

Ever the maverick
U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews was rubbing elbows with New Jersey’s Democratic Party elite at the Sky Lark Diner on Route 23 in Elizabeth.

On Feb. 5, during the wait for presidential-primary returns, he was bonding with Gov. Corzine, Democratic Party chairman Joseph Cryan, Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. of Camden County, and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of Monmouth County as they cheered on their candidate, U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Twelve weeks later, Andrews was sitting in another Jersey diner – under dramatically different circumstances. (Cynthia Burton, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Lautenberg’s moneyman steps down
A former Bergen County lawyer who was disbarred for his role in a mob-related bribery case is no longer working as head of a key fundraising committee controlled by Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Vincent P. Rigolosi offered his resignation as treasurer of the New Jersey First PAC late last week, a day after The Record reported that the 75-year-old ex-attorney and real-estate investor had been working for Lautenberg since 2003. (Jeff Pillets, The Record)

A lifetime fighter
MEDFORD — At night, in the Persian Gulf, Chris Myers would angrily pace the deck of the USS Bunker Hill.

Saddam Hussein was firing Scud missiles at American troops. But Myers could not fight back. (Alan Guenther, Asbury Park Press)

Follow the money
A consulting firm linked to Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero and politically connected lawyer Dennis J. Oury raked in $11,000 in fees for securing a $50,000 state grant for Lyndhurst, according to township records obtained Thursday. (Michael Gartland, Oshrat Carmiel and Scott Fallon, The Record)

Playing the role of Switzerland, DiVincenzo
NEWARK – The sides have lined up – one against the other – Lautenberg forces versus Andrews forces – but Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo has kept his name in no man’s land. (Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com)

GOP goes kosher
TRENTON — Republican lawmakers outlined $1.32 billion in proposed changes to Gov. Jon S. Corzine‘s budget plan Thursday, a list of spending cuts they say would allow more spending on property tax relief and fund transportation projects without hiking tolls. (Michael Symons, Gannett)

But can they hack through a “wall of pork”
TRENTON — Kicking off a two-day summit calling on New Jersey to trim taxes, the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity displayed a 44-foot “wall of pork” detailing various departments, agencies and commissions in state government on Thursday that state Director Steve Lonegan said could be cut by more than 75 percent. (Michael Rispoli, Gannett)

Intensity drives up numbers
Intense interest in New Jersey’s February presidential primary produced a surge in the number of voters affiliating themselves with a major party, with Democrats reaping the greatest gain.

Voter registration figures released yesterday by the state Division of Elections show there are now 1.6 million Democrats, or 511,708 more than just before the Feb. 5 primary. There are slightly more than 1 million Republicans, a gain of 155,390. (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)

Where were they?
One of the small, but vexing, questions about Morris County politics was why did no Democrats file to run for the township committee in Morris Township last April? After all, township Democrats are on a winning streak. (Fred Snowflack, The Daily Record)

Harassed for removing campaign sign?
ATLANTIC CITY – A city employee alleges harassment and political retaliation after he was briefly held by police for removing a “Scott Evans for Mayor” sign from his own property. (Press of Atlantic City)

Old anger dies hard in Elizabeth
In December 2007, James Devine, a Union County political operative/newspaper publisher, was arrested for owing $20,000 in child support and alimony. (Matt Friedman, PolitickerNJ.com)

GOP primary in Shamong
SHAMONG — Two Republican candidates are seeking their party’s nomination for one seat on the Township Committee in Tuesday’s primary.

Incumbent Republican George Young, the township’s deputy mayor, is running against Martin Mozitis.

Laura King is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination. (Ed Moorhouse, Burlington County Times)

Moving down the value chain
As New Jersey’s first lady, Dina Matos McGreevey shopped for her daughter at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Talbots.

Now, the soon-to-be-ex-wife of former governor James E. McGreevey testified yesterday in her divorce trial, she shops at the Children’s Place, the Gap and T.J. Maxx. (Judith Lucas and Brad Parks, Star-Ledger)

The line of succession
IF ONLY Dina Matos had married Rob Andrews instead of Jim McGreevey. As the messy divorce trial of the even messier McGreeveys continues to unfold, it is clear that if the former governor had taken a page from his fellow Democrat, Rep. Andrews, he wouldn’t be in court today.

Andrews, who hopes to send incumbent Sen. Frank Lautenberg packing in Tuesday’s primary, named his wife, Camille, as the placeholder candidate for his congressional seat. (Alfred P. Doblin, The Record)

Not the best example
RUTHERFORD — A borough councilman who coaches Little League has been suspended for the remainder of the season for cursing in front of his team during practice.

Councilman John Sasso said Thursday that he received the three-game ban for using a curse word in frustration while picking up baseballs during a practice last week. Sasso emphasized that the remark was not directed at anyone, and that he was sorry for saying it. (Nick Clunn, The Record)

With the PolitickerNJ.com Wake-Up Call e-mailed to your inbox, phone, Blackberry or PDA first thing in the morning, you can get a rundown of New Jersey’s top political headlines. Sign up to get the Wake-Up Call delivered every morning.

Wake-Up Call: Friday, May 30, 2008