Wake-Up Call: Tuesday, May 27, 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.

Even they’re bored
TRENTON — Depending on whom you ask, this is a story about Maverick Murray, Jersey Joe and the Liberal Loser Lobbyist. Others regard it simply as the Republican primary to choose a candidate for the United States Senate in New Jersey.

All would agree that it has not been the neatest, nor the most electrifying, of affairs. (David W. Chen, New York Times)

A big headache
WOODBRIDGE – U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) wasn’t supposed to face a primary opponent, and when he did, few were as irked as U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

In the months preceding U.S. Rob Andrews’s challenge of Lautenberg, Schumer saw the elder statesman bringing in big donors and positioning himself to make a convincing stand come the November general.

Andrews’s entry into the race was at best a headache for Schumer because it meant Lautenberg would have to spend money in a primary – maybe a lot of money. (Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com)

Hitting the trail
The two Democrats running for the U.S. Senate spent Memorial Day on the campaign trail, marching in parades in northern New Jersey. (Matt Friedman, PolitickerNJ.com)

Go to work
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg is running for re-election, but that doesn't mean he's forgetting his job in Washington.

The incumbent has criticized his top opponent in the June 3rd Democratic primary U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews for being absent much of the past six weeks during the ongoing campaign. (Pete McCarthy, Gloucester County Times)

What will they do on Iraq?
The Record asked the three Republicans and the three Democrats in the June 3 U.S. Senate primary about issues the Senate has confronted or is likely to confront in the coming term.

Their responses will appear each day. In some cases, answers are paraphrased or excerpted, but full audio recordings will be online on the Capital Games blog at northjersey.com/herbjackson.

Today's question: Would you vote for or against withdrawing troops from Iraq by a specific date? (The Record)

The “unbossed”
LONG BRANCH – U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone leads the way up to the top of the Windmill and considers a question regarding the main difference between U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg and his Democratic Primary challenger, U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews.

He doesn’t hesitate to take a shot. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com)

Changes afoot
It's been more than two decades since someone other than Jim Saxton

represented New Jersey's 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

So when the 13-term Republican, now 64, announced late last year that he would retire from Congress in 2009 for health reasons, it paved the way for the district's first contentious GOP race in years. (Bridget Smith, Courier Post)

Lesson learned
EAGLESWOOD — When a heart attack forced William Kelly to quit his job as a Philadelphia police officer, he found work as a forest ranger and moved his young family to southern Ocean County, figuring that long walks in the unspoiled woods would help restore his health.

But about six years later, in 1959, Kelly suffered a massive stroke, crippling the left side of his body. Doctors told him he might never walk again.

Kelly's 7-year-old son watched in admiration as his father ignored the doctors and struggled to return to work almost 50 years ago.

"He didn't accept any kind of welfare or government subsidy. He learned how to drag the left side of his body, using the right side of his body, and he went back to work," says the son — John P. "Jack" Kelly, who's now running for Congress in the June 3 Republican primary election. (Alan Guenther, Asbury Park Press)

A good read
TRENTON — As Raymond Lesniak prepared for a speech to an anti-death penalty group, he looked at the speeches and writings he made while leading New Jersey's effort to abolish its death penalty and something occurred to him.

"When I saw the compilation I thought it would make for a good book to educate the public, legislators and governors as well as those in the abolition movement," said Lesniak, a New Jersey state senator since 1983. (Tom Hester Jr., Associated Press)

Look out for flying mud
ELIZABETH — With no sign of a settlement in the highly public divorce of New Jersey's gay ex-governor, onlookers can expect more dirt to be kicked up in the week ahead.

James and Dina Matos McGreevey are each expected to take a turn on the witness stand this week as a judge tries to figure out how much the governor-turned-seminary-student should pay in alimony and child support. (Angela Delli Santi, Associated Press)

Monday, May 26

Is anyone watching?
TRENTON — The toughest challenge facing the candidates for U.S. Senate from New Jersey may be sparking voter interest in the race. (Delli Santi, Associated Press)

Morris or Moscow?
Mayhem Murray Sabrin’s strategy to woo Morris County Republicans? Compare them to Soviet-era communists.

In last Monday night’s debate among the three Republican U.S. Senate candidates, Sabrin, a Fort Lee resident, compared Morris County, a Republican redoubt for generations, to the Soviet Union. (Charles Stile, The Record)

He wants a whole new party
Ramapo College professor Murray Sabrin wants GOP presidential candidate John McCain to drop his support for the war in Iraq.

Sabrin has called for the Republican state chairman and a GOP state senator to resign. He has demanded federal investigations of two other Republican candidates. He is running his own slate of delegates to the Republican National Convention and has targeted two GOP congressmen for defeat. (Robert Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)

A widening gap
Democrats in Gloucester County now account for nearly 38 percent of all registered voters a 10 percent increase from this time last year.

They now outnumber their Republican counterparts by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. (McCarthy, Gloucester County Times)

The decision’s already made
Democrats and Republicans will head to the polls June 3 to choose their candidates for the general election. But in most local races, the choices have already been made for them.

In Passaic County, 26 primary elections for county and municipal offices will be held, and all but four are uncontested. (Paul Brubaker, The Record)

A change of heart
ATLANTIC CITY – What a difference an election year can make.

Just three years ago, a group of people crowded around Lorenzo Langford and Domenic Cappella during a political event at Jeffries Towers. The crowd wasn't listening to an intriguing discussion: It was holding the two back to prevent them from mauling each other. (Michael Clark, Press of Atlantic City)

A rising star
TRENTON — During his sophomore year in high school, Hans Padgett Goff started off in politics with an unglamorous job — answering the hotline phones for Mayor Douglas Palmer at City Hall.

However, Goff soon managed to make the job his own. (Joe Garavente, Trenton Times)

Two GOPers want the nod
WENONAH Three Republicans are seeking two nominations for the upcoming June 3 primary, and each believes he or she would bring something unique to the table. (Jessica Driscoll, Gloucester County Times)

The A.C. shredder
ATLANTIC CITY – Before he left City Hall to begin his five-month term in federal prison, former City Councilman Ramon Rosario had one last piece of business: Destroy all city documents in his office.

Rosario's wife and former council aide, Marisol, recently testified in a deposition that she was ordered by her husband to destroy all of his office records when he resigned, according to the transcript. (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)

Sunday, May 25

Something more than a laugh?
Murray Sabrin certainly brings something to the three-man race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. The question becomes, is it merely comic relief? (Fred Snowflack, The Daily Record)

Remember the age
At 84, New Jersey's Frank Lautenberg is the third-eldest member of the U.S. Senate. And as he seeks a fifth term, his two younger rivals for the Democratic nomination are fond of recalling Lautenberg's first race, against Millicent Fenwick, a Republican congresswoman 14 years his senior. (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)

Two big papers back Andrews
The Star-Ledger and the Philadelphia Inquirer have endorsed Rob Andrews for U.S. Senate against incumbent Frank Lautenberg in the Democratic primary. Both papers also endorsed Dick Zimmer for the GOP nomination, although the Star-Ledger said they would back Andrews or Lautenberg over Zimmer in the general election. (PolitickerNJ.com)

Garrett says GOP needs to get back to basics
THE REPUBLICAN Party has to move "back to its roots," Rep. Scott Garrett said last week after a conservative faction he belongs to issued an "action plan."

Losses by Republicans in recent special House elections in heavily Republican districts have caused turmoil in the GOP caucus. (Herb Jackson, The Record)

Only one can be the one
Each of the Seven claims to be the One — the one true Republican who can keep the 7th Congressional District from falling into Democratic hands.

On June 3, Republican voters from the portions of four counties — Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset and Union — that compose the sprawling, 600-square-mile district will choose their champion to defend its House seat against Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Union). (Gabriel H. Gluck, Star-Ledger)

Differing on the wars
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen is a staunch supporter of President George W. Bush's policies on Iraq and Afghanistan. He has made three trips to each country and spoken with military leaders and the troops. (Lawrence Ragonese, Star-Ledger)

Is this their year?
For decades, New Jersey Democrats have had very little chance of winning the 3rd District congressional seat.

Until now. (Joe Donohue, Star-Ledger)

A Washington Twp. brawl
WASHINGTON TWP. Registered Democrats in town will have several choices to make when they head to the polls in two weeks to nominate their choice for mayor and two council seats.

The endorsed Democratic slate of candidates Matthew Lyons for mayor, Scott Newman and Raymond MacDowell for council is being challenged by a slate of newcomers Josh Aronovitch for mayor, Lisa Passero and Trish Pisauro for council. (Jessica Beym, Gloucester County Times)

Two Dems run in Greenwich
GREENWICH TWP. Two candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination for the township's November mayoral race, when one will face off against current Mayor George Shivery Jr. (Siobhan A. Counihan, Gloucester County Times)

Heated Essex freeholder race
In the June 3 primary for the Essex County freeholder board, the most interesting race may be between two Democrats — Ralph Caputo, who represents the 5th District, and his challenger, former Montclair Mayor Bob Russo.

They are running a heated campaign to represent the communities of Bloomfield, Belleville, Nutley, Montclair and Glen Ridge. (Elizabeth Moore, Star-Ledger)

Taking to the skies
Gov. Jon Corzine has traveled in state helicopters significantly more often since he was nearly killed in a car accident last April, according to records and administration officials. (Claire Heininger, Star-Ledger)

Saturday, May 24

NEWARK — The competing television ads from Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Rob Andrews will sound familiar to those viewers who have been following their campaign for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. (Jeffrey Gold, Associated Press)

Differing opinions
JERSEY CITY — Sen. Frank Lautenberg didn't need to introduce himself to the 20 or so people gathered at Liberty House Restaurant. (Raju Chebium, Gannett)

New energy needed
CHERRY HILL — Energy is the key to the country's future, said state Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-Morris, who vowed to push for construction of nuclear power plants, extraction of oil from shale and the development of other domestic sources of energy if elected to the U.S. Senate. (Richard Pearsall, Courier-Post)

Just trying to help
Democrats are stirring it up in the raging family feud of a GOP primary in South Jersey's Third Congressional District.

The state Democratic Committee financed a brochure, which began arriving in Republican households in Burlington County yesterday. It attacks candidate Chris Myers of Medford, sending a signal that Democrats are picking a preferred opponent for the fall – Ocean County Freeholder Jack Kelly. (Cynthia Burton, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Equal footing
The hotly contested Republican primary contest to replace retiring Third Congressional District U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton is entering its final week and the two leading candidates are confident they have raised enough money for the final push.

Federal Election Commission reports released yesterday showed that Medford Mayor Chris Myers and Ocean County Freeholder Jack Kelly had raised close to the same amount of money with Myers spending more but having less cash on hand. (David Levinsky, Burlington County Times)

Still working things through
Thursday, state Sen. Sandra Cunningham of Jersey City and her consigliere Joe Cardwell met behind closed doors with Mayor Jerramiah Healy and his chief of staff, Dom Pandolfo, to determine their relationship and discuss any possible deals.

They came out of the session with nothing resolved. (Political Insider, Jersey Journal)

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: Tuesday, May 27, 2008