Weekend News Digest: Sunday, November 2, 2008

Poll: Obama, Lautenberg headed toward big wins on Tuesday

Democrats Barack Obama and Frank Lautenberg have huge leads going into Election Day, according to a new Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll released early this morning. Obama leads Republican John McCain in New Jersey by 21 points, 55%-34%, amog likely voters. In the race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Frank Lautenberg leads Republican Dick Zimmer, a former Congressman, by 19 points, 50%-31%. (PolitickerNJ.com)


N.J. Democrats hope to extend gains

With Democratic victories forecast in New Jersey in the presidential and U.S. Senate races, party leaders hope to make gains farther down the ballot. The state's seven Democrats in the U.S. House appear to be safe Tuesday, but polls show close races for two of the six Republican seats. Democratic winds also are blowing through county and local races, with party officials aiming to pick up municipal seats from Mount Laurel in Burlington County to Pitman in Gloucester County. (Cynthia Burton, Inquirer)


Confusing Castro-Corzine beard comparison cracks up committee hearing

Governor Corzine liberal positions on many issues have probably led to him being called a communist at some point or other. But any comparison to Fidel Castro at a House transportation hearing Wednesday was purely inadvertent. The committee chairman, Rep. James Oberstar, was working himself into a lather about the lack of a federal capital budget to direct investment in infrastructure. He told a tale about how he'd persuaded President Reagan's budget director to support the idea, but was derailed by bureaucrats at the Office of Management and Budget. (Herb Jackson, The Record)


Lautenberg, Zimmer go at age and earmarks in last debate

U.S Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Republican challenger Dick Zimmer sparred over the Democratic incumbent's age, effectiveness and residency as they met tonight for their final debate before Tuesday's election. Zimmer said Lautenberg has been, "by any measure, ineffective during his 24 years in the U.S. Senate" and, at 84, is too old for a fifth six-year term. Lautenberg cited his legislative record as proof of his effectiveness. The 64-year-old Zimmer had vowed not to make Lautenberg's age a campaign issue but both candidates confronted it in questions posed by a panel of journalists. (Robert Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)


Lautenberg and Zimmer clash over earmarks, bailout bill in their last encounter

Both professing to be champions of New Jersey’s middle class, but for different philosophical reasons, U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park) and his opponent, former U.S. Rep. Dick Zimmer, engaged in their second and final debate tonight in the studios of NJN. Objecting to Lautenberg’s indulgence in pursuing earmark projects, Zimmer said in times of economic peril, the people need a fiscal conservative like himself. (Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com)

Lautenberg, Zimmer get in some campaigning before their debate

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg fired up Democratic loyalists in Jersey City Saturday while his Republican challenger, former Congressman Dick Zimmer, campaigned on the senator's home turf in Bergen County. Both then headed to Trenton for the second and final debate of their campaign at the studios of New Jersey Network. Their only other debate, despite constant calls by Zimmer for more, aired Wednesday night on radio station 101.5 FM. (Robert Schwaneberg/Star-Ledger)


Pindell Report: 7th district House race changed from Leans Democratic to Leans Republican

With just four days left in the 2008 campaign, Republican Leonard Lance is poised to eke out an upset victory against Democrati Linda Stender, according to James Pindell, the editor of Politicker.com's Pindell Report, which offers independent analysis of federal- and state-level races. Pindell on Friday moved New Jersey's 7th district seat from Leans Democratic to Leans Republican. Pindell says that the decision of Democrats to dispatch their highest profile surrogate, former President Bill Clinton, to campaign for Stender is not something a campaign does when its ahead going into the final hours of a race. PolitickerNJ.com reported this week that the Stender campaign has an internal poll showing her trailing Lance by four points. (Alex Isenstadt/PolitickerNJ.com)

Ex-President Bill Clinton stumps for Linda Stender in Union County

Former President Bill Clinton gave his seal of approval Saturday to the 7th Congressional District campaign of Assemblywoman Linda Stender, appearing at a rally at Union County College in Cranford. "You need people in public office who want to understand and can understand," Clinton told an enthusiastic crowd of 1,500. "Linda Stender can do that." (Nyier Abdou/Star-Ledger)


Clinton calls for 7th district to send Stender to Congress

Speaking in support of Assemblywoman Linda Stender's congressional bid at Union County College today, former President Bill Clinton said Hillary had sent him. "She said that New Jersey had been good to me and good to her, and we needed to be good to New Jersey by helping Linda Stender get elected to Congress," said Clinton. Clinton spent the bulk of his time giving his usual stump speech for Barack Obama, but he started off by rattling off some of Stender's accomplishments in the legislature. He characterized her as an integral part of a sweeping change needed in Washington. (Matt Friedman/PolitickerNJ.com)


State Democratic chairman on Lance: 'Independent my ass!'

Democratic State Chairman Joe Cryan took the stage today at Union County College not just to tout Linda Stender as a hard working public servant who always “does the right thing,” but to Pummel her opponent’s reputation as a moderate independent. “Some people say to me the other guy’s nice, or he’s ok, or what’s unfathomable to me: that he’s independent,” he said. Cryan spoke favorably of Stender's background, including her global warming bill and work as a freeholder preserve open space. Then he challenged the audience to name one thing Lance had accomplished in his legislative career. (Matt Friedman/PolitickerNJ.com)


Union County College president offers Morin and Lance space for a rally with Bush

Union County College President Thomas H. Brown said today that he did respond to Union County Republican Chairman Phil Morin by letter and email regarding his complaint that today’s rally was against the school’s own regulations. “He got a letter,” said Brown while overseeing preparations to host President Bill Clinton on behalf of Democratic Congressional candidate Linda Stender. “He got an email. He doesn’t read his emails.” (Matt Friedman/PolitickerNJ.com)


Zogby poll: Myers and Adler in dead heat for Saxton's House seat; Andrews, LoBiondo have huge leads

The 3rd district congressional race between Democrat John Adler and Republican Christopher Myers is a statistical dead heat, according to a Zogby International poll conducted by The Press of Atlantic City and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. More than 16% of the voters poll remain undecided, with each candidate at 39%. Adler, a State Senator from Camden County, and Myers, the Mayor of Medford, are seeking the seat of Republican Jim Saxton, who is retiring after 24 years in the House. Republicans have held this seat since 1884. (PolitickerNJ.com)


NJ-2 has more Democrats than Republicans

New registrations and changes in registration could bolster what some view as a long shot for a Kurkowski victory over U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd. When LoBiondo last ran for re-election in 2006, his district had 13,410 more Republicans than Democrats. Democratic congressional challenger Dave Kurkowski will enjoy a huge swing in major party voter registrations come Election Day, when registered Democrats will outnumber Republicans in the 2nd Congressional District by 16,000. (Daniel Walsh/Press of Atlantic City)


Independent NJ-2 candidate decides to vote for self

Independent congressional candidate Gary Stein has decided to vote for himself after all. Stein, an Egg Harbor City resident, had indicated in early October that he would vote for Democrat David Kurkowski, a Cape May city councilman. This week, he confirmed he changed his mind, directing a reporter to "Call the first e-mail a spontaneous outburst." "I'm voting for myself," Stein wrote in an e-mail. (Press of Atlantic City)


Press poll: Obama increases lead in New Jersey

Democratic U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg holds a 9.5 percent lead over Republican Dick Zimmer, although some of the incumbent's earlier support has shifted to undecided. Republican Rep. Frank LoBiondo leads Democratic challenger Dave Kurkowski by a 2-to-1 margin in the 2nd Congressional District. Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has increased his lead over Republican John McCain in southern New Jersey to 13 points, in part by gaining ground in the state's southernmost counties, according to a poll released today by The Press of Atlantic City and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. (John Froonjian/Press of Atlantic City)


Menendez: Obama will win Florida

In spite of McCain campaign robocalls hyping a William Ayres domestic terrorism connection, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-Hoboken) predicted that his colleague, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Il.), will secure Florida’s 27 electoral votes on Election Day. At Obama’s request, Menendez spent Thursday and Friday campaigning in the Sunshine State, reaching out to Cuban Americans in the Miami-Dade area. (Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com)


Govs. Paterson and Corzine rally in Jersey City for Obama

New Jersey and New York Governors Jon Corzine and David Paterson (with a little help from Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy and Senator Bob Menendez) got the crowds "fired up" at New Jersey City University this afternoon. The Democratic bigwigs led a rally at the school today to elect Barack Obama for president. Paterson called electing Obama a chance to "overcome one of America's greatest faults (slavery)."


Jersey City gears up for Tuesday

Although the pro-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) crowd in the student center of New Jersey City University was juked with polls showing their candidate in possession of a double digit lead in Jersey, they supplied no demonstration of shock and awe support three days before Election Day. Waiting for keynoters New York Gov. David Paterson and Gov. Jon Corzine, local politicians warmed up the proudly attentive audience.


Cory Booker says he's staying put, but an Obama victory could bring opportunities

The 800 union workers at the Obama rally were fired up long before Cory Booker took the stage on Oct. 22. Veterans of New Jersey's Democratic machine, led by U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), had worked up the overflow crowd, but it was Booker, 39, the charismatic mayor of New Jersey's largest city, who brought them to a frenzy. "Are you ready to Barack-and-roll?" the former collegiate tight end shouted into the microphone like a boxing announcer, eliciting a thunderous response.(Victor Epstein/The Associated Press)


Black voters talk about how to extend the enthusiasm

Of New Jersey's 1.3 million black residents, 97 percent of those registered to vote favor Obama over his GOP rival John McCain, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released last month. Many interviewed cherish the idea of seeing a black president in their lifetime, defining their support almost as an obligation. Others buck the trend, objecting to Obama's positions on moral issues and resenting any presumption that all black people vote the same. In Ocean County, Republican voters outnumber Democrats by 6 percent, making it among six of the state's 21 counties to be GOP-leaning going into Tuesday's election. But to Lakewood activist James Waters and fellow black supporters in Central Jersey, Obama is the butterfly causing climate change across the country. (Zach Patberg/Asbury Park Press)


Ballot Question 1 would limit borrowing

New Jersey voters will get to decide Tuesday on a plan that would put new clamps on state borrowing. If approved, the first public question on the election ballot would amend the state Constitution to require voters' approval when the state or one of its independent agencies wants to borrow money. Voters' approval would not be required, however, on borrowing in some cases where there were dedicated funds to pay off the debts. (Jonathan Tamari/Inquirer)


Employee pension investment prompts fears of high risk

The State Investment Council, the shepherd of the state employees' pensions, is increasing its investment in a controversial hedge fund that handles corporate debt, which some said Friday sounds like a potentially high risk. "We think the return on this new, additional investment will be really attractive," said William Clark, director of the division of investment. But council member James Marketti, president of the Communications Workers of America Local 1032, said he did not believe state workers and retired state employees agreed. (Tom Baldwin/Gannett State Bureau)


Pinelands panel chairwoman steps down

Betty Wilson, a former state environmental official who played a key role in Pinelands protection, stepped down this week as chairwoman of the state Pinelands Commission, leaving the powerful top slot on the 15-member regional board to be filled by Gov. Corzine. Pinelands officials say Wilson resigned to devote more time to other interests, and her departure creates a second vacancy. (Kirk Moore/Asbury Park Press)


County GOP chief’s ultimatum to insiders rakes in the cash

Since the Bergen County Republican Organization launched an internal, pony-up-or-else fund-raising campaign this fall, I thought it worth noting which Republican officials capitulated to Chairman Bob Yudin’s demands and who didn’t. State Sen. Kevin O’Toole of Essex County and 40th District running mates Assemblymen David Russo of Ridgewood and Scott Rumana of Wayne pitched in a combined $10,000. State Sen. Gerald Cardinale of Demarest, who has emerged as a behind-the-scenes broker in the new Yudin regime, gave $5,000; U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett’s SCOTTPAC chipped in $5,000; and Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce of Morris County and Westwood Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk contributed $2,500 each. (Charles Stile/The Record)


Lacking Booker's support but championed by Crump, White stays in the game

Getting caught in the middle of political theater involving other, bigger antagonists goes with the territory when it comes to the fledgling career of Nakea White, Central Ward council candidate. No big deal. Politics here with all of its intrigue still generally has fewer hard edges than crime. “The number one issue in our ward is crime, especially with the recent shootings on Boyd, these are the issues affecting people,” says White, sitting in her gritty, second story campaign headquarters on Springfield Avenue. “People are scared. A woman told me the other day she’s scared that she might be the next person to get shot.” (Max Pizarro/PolitickerNJ.com)


Rone works the Central Ward streets with underdog mother

Spackled over with “Fight the Power” signs, the sedan cruises up 14th Avenue, and Georgia Maye Ransome’s voice sounds on the intercom, urging residents to get out there for the Rone ticket on Election Day. At the wheel of the car sits candidate Mary Rone, longtime community activist and mother of former Councilwoman Dana Rone, whom an assignment judge stripped of her Central Ward Council seat in August after concluding that Rone used her office to try to obstruct justice in a Dec. 2006 traffic incident. (Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com)


Democrats have chance in competitive county clerk races

In Ocean and Burlington Counties, Republicans have all held the county clerk seats for as long as anyone can remember. This year, buoyed by the surge in Democratic registrations, Democrats have a crack at both of them. Among the most surprising competitive races this cycle is in Ocean County – one of only six New Jersey counties where there are still more registered Republicans than Democrats. (Matt Friedman/PolitickerNJ.com)


Former borough tax collector indicted

A former Bergenfield official has been indicted for allegedly stealing $200,000 in tax receipts. Friday’s four-count indictment against former Deputy Tax Collector Marlon C. Mikesell, 33, results from his arrest in March 2007 for allegedly pocketing cash payments to the tax office, along with a subsequent arrest on allegations of possessing and distributing child pornography. County investigators discovered the pornography while searching Mikesell’s home computer for evidence related to the tax thefts. (Serdar Tumgoren, The Record)


Sandoval gains traction with endorsement, while veteran Capuana goes to his base

On the day the Herald News endorses real estate developer Jose Sandoval in the Passiac mayor’s race, four of the five candidates sit at the front of a big room hugging highway 21 at a warehouse district debate sponsored by an alliance of community groups. A fifth chair stands empty. “I had other commitments and I had to make those commitments,” Councilman Joe Garcia explains later. Garcia’s absence at the last debate forum before Tuesday’s special election fans rumors that either one of the campaigns of Dr. Alex Blanco or city super Vinny Capuana broke through and secured backing from the councilman’s supporters, thereby shutting down his campaign. Garcia says no way. (Max Pizarro/PolitickerNJ.com)


COO delays layoffs of city employees

Camden's chief operating officer said yesterday that he would not abide by union agreements in deciding which workers would lose their jobs in the imminent layoff of city government employees. "We have gone through a whole process that probably equates more favorably than civil service," said Theodore Z. Davis. Davis had been expected to make a formal announcement yesterday about who would receive a pink slip. He said that he had delayed the announcement and did not specify a new date. (Matt Katz/The Inquirer)


Scandals cast a pall on race for council

A series of scandals involving local and county Democrats is overshadowing the campaign for two open council seats here, possibly threatening the party's hegemony in a borough where Democrats have held every elected position since last year. Republican candidates Cathy Bentz and Maureen O'Brien have seized on what they say is evidence of widespread corruption in the Democratic Party to paint their rivals as unscrupulous cogs in a system that enriches party faithful at taxpayers' expense. (Stephanie Akin/The Record)


Borough council candidates agree on many issues

No matter what happens on Election Day, there will be at least one new face on the Borough Council next year. Republican Councilman James Bower, 67, a retired Lenox China employee, is the only incumbent left on the ballot after fellow Councilman Rusty Draper withdrew from the race following the primary. Taking Draper's place is James Edwards, 64, who is semi-retired from the shipping industry. Edwards ran for a spot on the Borough Council in 2004, but when the primary election – hindered by a voting booth malfunction – ended in a tie, the county's Republican Committee chose to give his opponent, former Councilman Anthony Foglia, the nod. (Rob Spahr/Press of Atlantic City)


Freeholders to look at budget cuts

Various proposed cuts will be on the table when the Warren County Freeholders discuss the forthcoming 2009 county budget during a workshop meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5 at the Wayne Dumont Jr. Administration Building, 165 Route 519 South. The Freeholders, during recent budget workshop meetings, found more than $600,000 in savings to meet rigorous state-mandated budgetery caps. (Warren Reporter)


Frank 'Big Ed' Vereen, influential black businessman, dies

Frank "Big Ed" Vereen, a soldier in World War II who rose to be one of Mercer County's leading black entrepreneurs and civic leaders of his generation, died Wednesday. He was 83. His Eggerts Crossing Inn hosted many of the leading black entertainers of the 1950s. After that business went broke, he built a business empire, which included the Turf Club bar, Big Ed's supermar ket and a series of businesses in the Bahamas. (Andrew Kitchenman/Times of Trenton)


One-party rule debated in Demarest Council race

A Republican incumbent and his running mate say a Borough Council made up only of Democrats would eliminate checks and balances, and could result in unnecessary and increased spending. "The bottom line is there needs to be checks and balances on the governing body, especially now in light of the subpoenas we've received, and in light of the economic times," said Councilman Raymond Cywinski, in reference to the borough's receipt of federal subpoenas related to indicted Bergen County Democratic leader Joseph Ferriero, indicted former Democratic Party counsel Dennis Oury, a now-defunct consulting firm and a Web developer. (Karen Sudol/The Record)


Borough Council candidates split on pace of River Edge development

All four candidates for the Borough Council agree that redevelopment projects at the southern end of Kinderkamack Road are the key to long-term financial stability. They disagree sharply about the pace at which that development has been happening. Republicans Shawn Kucharski and Councilman Christian Lau say the borough has dragged its feet in negotiations with property owners who have agreed to redevelop their own properties. (Ashley Kindergan/The Record)

http://www.northjersey.com/news/bergenpolitics/33680934.html Weekend News Digest: Sunday, November 2, 2008