Wake-Up Call: Sunday, June 1, 2008

With the PolitickerNJ.com Wake-Up Call e-mailed to your inbox, phone, Blackberry or PDA first thing in the morning, you can

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.

Losses don’t amount to much
In his two debates against U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Rep. Rob Andrews (D-1st Dist.) clearly displayed his superior rhetorical skills, according to a quartet of political experts.

But they also said Lautenberg avoided the sort of major gaffe that would have fed doubts about whether, at 84, he was fit for another six-year term. (Robert Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)

The first casualty
TRENTON — In the Democratic campaign for the U.S. Senate nomination, pitting Sen. Frank Lautenberg and challenger Rep. Rob Andrews, truth has been the first casualty. (Tom Baldwin, Gannett)

Planning ahead
Some pols figure it's better to win one election before planning fundraisers for the next one. But not U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

The senior senator, facing a primary challenge from U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-1st Dist.) in just two days, is already advertising for a big-ticket fundraiser for June 23 — by which time Lautenberg could theoretically be the soon-to-be-former senator. (The Auditor, Star-Ledger)

Wooing Bergen
Democrat Frank Lautenberg and Republican Dick Zimmer wooed Bergen County voters on Saturday as combative races for both parties' nominations for U.S. Senate entered the homestretch. (Herb Jackson, The Record)

Tuesday matters
It's true that Tuesday's primary is without the luster of February's presidential vote, but that hardly makes it irrelevant. (Fred Snowflack, The Daily Record)

Will there be excitement after all?
Early on, New Jersey's June primary for U.S. Senate had the makings of being a forgettable event.

The Democrats had a strong incumbent running against what some considered to be a mayor without much support outside of his region. The Republicans had three candidates running quiet campaigns.

And then, everything got turned upside down. (Pete McCarthy, Gloucester County Times)

Morris goes to the polls
The focus of politics these days is the Clinton-Obama-McCain battle for president. But, don't forget, there is a non-presidential primary election on Tuesday in Morris County with contested local elections in nine towns and races in both parties in the 11th Congressional District.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen is being challenged by 26-year-old Kate Erber of Morristown in a Republican primary. Democrats Tom Wyka of Parsippany, Ellen Greenberg of Mendham Township and Harry Hager of Chester Township and seeking their party's nomination. (Lawrence Ragonese, Star-Ledger)

Playing for time
A day after a state judge ordered Gov. Jon Corzine to make public hundreds of pages of e-mail between his office and state-worker union leader Carla Katz, the governor yesterday released a partial breakdown of the computer traffic but continued to refuse to describe its contents.

At the same time, the state Republican leader who sued for access to the records said he will ask Superior Court Judge Paul Innes to order the governor's office to pay upward of $40,000 in legal fees spent on the lawsuit seeking release of the correspondence. (Josh Margolin, Star-Ledger)

His fate hangs in the balance
Joseph Ferriero's tenure as Bergen County Democratic chairman may depend on the outcome of a low-visibility county committee race on Tuesday. (Karen Sudol, The Record)

The heart of the matter
Some of the state grant money at the heart of a federal probe into top Bergen County Democrats came from special pots that critics say were little more than slush funds.

Those accounts were created in 2002 — after Democrats took control of the Legislature and the State House — by rewriting budget rules that had required specific grants be identified as budget line items. (John P. McAlpin, The Record)

The calm before the storm
Just two days before the primary election, the three Republican candidates for the 3rd District Congressional seat kicked off their weekend in vastly different ways. (Rob Spahr, Press of Atlantic City)

Thigpen on the way out?
The Essex County Democratic Committee Hall of Fame Dinner is one of three major fundraisers thrown by the party each year. This year's event honored state Sen. Nia Gill and major party fundraiser and lawyer Angelo Genova.

But instead of the 500 to 600 people expected, only about 200 people showed up at Nanina's in the Park in Belleville for the May 19 event.

The low turnout is one of the reasons party leaders acknowledge they WERE looking to replace longtime Essex County Democratic Chairman Phillip Thigpen. (Jeffrey C. Mays, Star-Ledger)

They’ve had enough
ATLANTIC CITY – Robert Toscano has lived in Atlantic City for 63 years, and every mayoral race he was eligible to vote in, he did.

But Toscano is breaking tradition when Tuesday's special mayoral primary arrives. He's not voting.

"They make the same promises every time, but none of these guys look good," he said, lounging on the porch of his Winchester Avenue home. (Michael Clark, Press of Atlantic City)

Friends turned bitter competitors
ELMWOOD PARK — A bitter primary battle among Democrats for two Borough Council ballot spots in the fall election has pitted two incumbents against each other. (Giovanna Fabiano, The Record)

Heated primaries in Hunterdon
Twin contests for Hunterdon County freeholder nominations top an abbreviated but interesting assortment of contests in Tuesday's major party primaries.

Another heated battle for the Republican nomination for Clinton Township mayor, tantamount to election, highlights a smattering of GOP municipal contests. (Joe Tyrrell, Star-Ledger)

A quiet summer’s day
With an absorbing presidential race and a greater representation of Warren County Democrats — in a county where they are all but an endangered species — the November election is shaping up to be one of its most competitive in years.

But before the November tempest, there is the June tranquillity. On Primary Day on Tuesday, Warren County has only a half-dozen local races. (Mike Frassinelli, Star-Ledger)

All calm in Sussex
Sussex County is having one of its sleepier municipal primary seasons this decade, as only four local races are contested in Tuesday's election.

The contested races — all for Republican nominations to township committees — are in Andover Township, Montague, Stillwater and Wantage. (Jim Lockwood, Star-Ledger)

A little help for his friends
Mayor Michael Wildes has stocked Englewood’s Planning Board with campaign contributors and personal friends who have, in turn, voted for projects presented by other friends and donors. (Maya Kremen, The Record)

Promises kept?
Republican attorney John Hipp, who captured the Rutherford mayor's seat as a reform candidate last year, also has a second taxpayer-funded job. (Charles Stile, The Record)

Saturday, May 31

Rising to the challenge again
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg is the only senator – Democratic or Republican – facing a major primary challenge this year. (Cynthia Burton, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Age-old issues
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg and U.S. Rep. Robert E. Andrews, in their final debate before Tuesday's New Jersey primary election for the Democratic nomination for senator, clashed yesterday over their effectiveness in Washington and their early support for the Iraq war.

Lautenberg's age, 84, also resurfaced as an issue. Lautenberg proclaimed himself "certainly fit," while Andrews accused him of using a "double standard," having impugned Sen. Millicent Fenwick as unfit at age 72 in his first Senate campaign in 1982. (Paul Nussbaum, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Questions take a toll
As they met in their second and final debate before Tuesday's primary, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) panned a plan to raise tolls in New Jersey while Rep. Rob Andrews (D-1st Dist.) praised it.

Yet when the hour-long debate on New Jersey Network was over the author of that much-maligned plan, Gov. Jon Corzine, who watched from the studio audience, reaffirmed his support for Lautenberg. (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)

Taxing questions
TRENTON — Economic policy and limited government were the topics on hand Friday, as the three candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate addressed an anti-tax summit — along with one Democrat, who called the conservative crowd "the lion's den." (Michael Rispoli, Gannett)

A debt of gratitude?
TRENTON — The marketing company responsible for the "Jersey Joe" radio jingle associated with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joseph Pennacchio claims the campaign changed a corporate campaign contribution to a personal contribution in order to stay within federal election laws and owes his company $66,000 for the marketing campaign. (Rispoli, Gannett)

A chance of fraud? In Atlantic City?
ATLANTIC CITY – Atlantic County Superintendent of Elections John Mooney confirmed Friday his participation in an investigation into the city's voter registration and hopes to reveal its findings before the deadline to contest Tuesday's mayoral primary election results. (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)

Two slates in Burlco
Republican voters in Burlington County will have two slates to choose from when they select nominees for two freeholder seats and the clerk's office in Tuesday's primary election.

In the freeholder race, incumbents Stacey Jordan and Aubrey Fenton are being challenged by Debbie Sarcone, an Evesham councilwoman, and John Shevelew, mayor of Shamong. (Maya Rao, Philadelphia Inquirer)

The real contest in Upper Freehold
UPPER FREEHOLD — Just like last year, the real election for one available seat on the Township Committee seems to be Tuesday's Republican primary.

Two candidates are vying for the GOP nomination to run for the three-year seat in the November general election — Robert Frascella and Bryan H. Scheff. Scheff is aligned with Township Committee members Stephen J. Alexander, Robert Faber and Lori Horsnall Mount, while Frascella is aligned with Committeemen David Reed and Stanley Moslowski Jr. (Joseph Sapia, Asbury Park Press)

Who’s the real candidate?
And the next member of Congress from South Jersey's 1st District is likely to be . . . Who knows?

Rank and file Democrats in the district are expected to nominate Camille Andrews on Tuesday, but it's not clear who the party's actual candidate will be. (Richard Pearsall, Courier-Post)

Back in action
WINSLOW — Former township committeeman Russell H. Bates, 64, has returned to the ring for this spring's primary race — and he's come out swinging.

Bates and his three running mates have declared themselves "the real Democrats" in a primary contest for four seats on the local committee. His slate, which includes two incumbents, blasts its opponents as "Republicancrats." (Adam Smeltz, Courier-Post)

A rare occurrence
MANALAPAN — The township will see a contested Republican primary election for the first time in at least 30 years, when two local GOP County Committee nominees and their challengers face off at the polls on Tuesday.

Kalman "Butch" Budai and Steve Johnson are challenging the County Committee nominees, Ryan D. Green and William "Bill" Garcia. Two three-year terms on the Township Committee are up for grabs in November. (Alesha Williams Boyd, Asbury Park Press)

Rising tide in Hightstown
HIGHTSTOWN — Six candidates, three Republicans and three Democrats, will be vying for two Borough Council seats belonging to Democrats Ryan Rosenberg and Constance Harinxma, who have decided not to seek re-election in Tuesday's primary.

Until earlier this week, only two Democrats, Janice Mastriano and Isabel McGinty, were running for the two three-year terms in a race dominated by such issues as shared services and rising taxes. But a last-minute write-in campaign for retired businessman Steve Kirson has broadened the field. (Joyce J. Persico, Trenton Times)

Living up to its name
WEST WILDWOOD – The candidates who apparently won the municipal election last week want to take office.

The candidates who claim irregularities at the voting booth, who think they may actually be the winners, also want to take office.

Even the borough commissioners who held office before the election, but who chose not to run for another term, remain more than willing to stay at the helm. (Richard Degener, Press of Atlantic City)

A loyal following
One can appreciate the strong support a political figure may get from his or her constituency – to a point.

There is no one who has a more loyal voting base than Union City Mayor and state Sen. Brian Stack, and for many of his people, the man can do no wrong. This is why if he is ever criticized or receives a bit of negative publicity, The Jersey Journal is flooded with letters and calls to Journal on the Line. (Political Insider, Jersey Journal)

Dina’s money troubles
With the governor's mansion and all its extravagances now a distant memory in her financial past, former first lady Dina Matos testified yesterday to a crushing debt — $127,000 to a friend, more than $250,000 to her lawyer, nearly $400,000 on her home — that grows by $2,400 a month as she fails to keep up with her bills.

She also confirmed she's out of a job as of today, when her employer, Columbus Hospital, closes its doors. (Judith Lucas and Brad Parks, Star-Ledger)

Hand ‘em over
Hillside Mayor Karen McCoy Oliver has been ordered by a Superior Court judge to hand over her former township attorney's legal files to the municipal council. (Jason Jett, Star-Ledger)

A.C. councilman’s sister pleads guilty
ATLANTIC CITY – A city councilman's sister pleaded guilty Thursday to assault and resisting arrest charges after more than a year of refuting the accusations and alleging police brutality.

Councilman Marty Small's sister, Shawntel, was initially charged with four counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, child endangerment and resisting arrest in October 2006, when a parking violation escalated into a scuffle. (Clark, Press of Atlantic City)

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: Sunday, June 1, 2008