CHRIS CHRISTIE HITS THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Chris Christie will make his much-anticipated debut in the New Jersey governor’s race today, formally kicking off his campaign with a four-stop swing through the state.
Christie, the Republican former U.S. Attorney, begins the rollout with a speech at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, then will hop in a bus headed south to mingle at a Hamilton diner. A visit to Haddon Heights and another diner stop in Westville round out the schedule for the first of two days of campaigning. (Heininger, Star-Ledger)
POLL SHOWS CHRISTIE LEADING CORZINE IN NJ GOV RACE
A poll on the New Jersey governor’s race finds the best-known Republican challenger leading the Democratic incumbent.
The Quinnipiac University poll released today has former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie ahead of Gov. Jon Corzine, 44 to 38 percent. Three other Republicans are far back. (AP)
PETERSON SHOWS OFF HUNTERDON COUNTY SUPPORT
Hunterdon County Freeholder Erik Peterson today announced the endorsement of 20 elected officials from nine Hunterdon County towns for his 23rd District assembly bid.
Among the endorsers was Hampton Borough Mayor Robert Walton, who despite Peterson’s moderate reputation called him “accessible, honest and conservative.” (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)
JEWELL POISED TO FORMALLY ENTER HILLSIDE MAYOR’S RACE
HILLSIDE – Here it comes – a Hillside free-for-all.
Sources close to Councilman Jerome Jewell say he will formally enter the race for mayor sometime in the next two weeks. The long-serving Newark detective will run with the backing of the local Democratic Party organization.
But there’s still political oxygen out there that at least two other candidates are trying to gobble up in the apparent aftermath of the troubled tenure of Mayor Karen McCoy-Oliver, niece of the late Assemblyman Willie Brown, who has not publicly declared her intentions regarding reelection.(Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)
ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE TOUTS ADDED REVENUE STREAMS IN ANNUAL ADDRESS
In his annual State of the County address, Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. tonight touted a series of added revenue streams to help counter the impact of the national recession.
In his sixth such address, DiVincenzo said consolidating county offices and returning appellate judges to Newark in the renovated LeRoy Smith Public Safety Building later this year will achieve $1.6 million in savings and income. (Read, Star-Ledger)
IN SPEECH AT SETON HALL, TONY BLAIR OFFERS ADVICE FOR OBAMA
It was a production fit for royalty, with security checkpoints, uniformed guards, spotlights and a line of 2,000 ticketholders that snaked out the building and into the snow.
But when former British prime minister Tony Blair finally arrived onstage at Seton Hall University today evening, he brushed all the fanfare away with a wave of his hand and some reserved English wit. (Kwoh, Star-Ledger)
PRESIDENT PAVES WAY FOR FRESH PARODY
When a different leader enters the White House, comics compete to create the definitive impersonation of the president. Characterizations have ranged from Rich Little’s sullen Richard Nixon to Phil Hartman’s binging Bill Clinton. No matter what the polls say, the commander-in-chief is always subject to parody.
As President Obama gets settled in Washington, impersonators are hard at work replicating his voice and mannerisms. The historic nature of his journey to the Oval Office doesn’t exempt him from satire. (Rose, Star-Ledger)
NJ CONGRESSMAN SEEKS PROBE OF SPRINGSTEEN CONCERT SALES BY TICKETMASTER
A New Jersey congressman has asked the federal government to investigate allegations that tickets to two Bruce Springsteen concerts were diverted to a ticket resale agency moments after they went on sale Monday morning.
Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8th Dist.) said his constituents complained that Ticketmaster, the primary ticket seller for the concerts, said tickets were sold out and directed consumers to its subsidiary, TicketsNow, a secondary marketplace where tickets were being offered for resale at three and four times the cover price. (McGlone, Star-Ledger)
CONGRESSMAN DEMANDS PROBE INTO SPRINGSTEEN TICKET SALES
EAST RUTHERFORD (AP) – A New Jersey congressman is demanding an investigation after Bruce Springsteen fans were unable to buy tickets from Ticketmaster’s Web site – which then promptly offered them more expensive tickets from a subsidiary it owns.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell of Paterson wants the federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving Ticketmaster and a ticket reseller it also owns called TicketsNow.
When tickets for Springsteen’s Meadowlands show went on sale Monday, some fans got an error message on their computer screen that shut them out from buying tickets. They also saw an ad for TicketsNow, offering tickets for hundreds of dollars more than their face value.
A Ticketmaster spokesman says the system did not fail, and that only a small handful of potential purchasers had problems.
SUPREMES HAVE BLIND SQUIRREL MOMENT
The state Supreme Court got one right. It ruled a convicted child molester did not need his Miranda rights repeated to him during a police interrogation that led to his arrest. A 28-year-old man was called to the Pemberton Township Police Department to discuss claims his uncle molested a 9-year-old girl. He was read his Miranda rights. Later he was told he too was a suspect. Court records show the man confessed and was sentenced to 18 years in prison. An Appeals Court ruled he should have been read his rights a second time after being told he was a suspect. The Supremes overturned that ruling and reinstated the 18-year sentence. (Ingle, Gannett)
STATE SONG HITS SOUR NOTE IN SENATE
TRENTON – An attempt to have New Jersey create four official state songs fell out of tune with some members of the state Legislature on Monday.
The Senate State Govern-ment Committee tabled the proposal by state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumber-land, Atlantic, as being off-key, with some members saying it amounted to everything from pandering to a waste of time.
“We have a lot of other issues to deal with, so can we just put this aside until we can get our economic problems taken care of?” asked state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen.
State Sen. Kevin O’Toole, R-Bergen, Essex, Passaic, called the proposal “silly,” charging that Van Drew seems to want to “appease” four different political groups.
Van Drew was not available for comment. (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
STATE SENATOR PITCHES PLAN FOR LONGER TERMS OF OFFICE
TRENTON – A state senator wants to extend the length of leg
islative office terms, contending it will save money on elections and allow lawmakers to spend less time raising funds to stay in office.
The proposal by state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union, would increase the length of a state Senate term from four to five years. Assembly members, who currently serve two-year terms, would serve alternating three- and two-year terms.
But the measure could wind up expanding, with members of the Senate’s State Government Committee saying Monday they also want to consider term limits and making legislative elections more competitive.
“Perhaps four years for governor is enough,” said state Sen. Kevin O’Toole, R-Bergen, Essex, Passaic. “We don’t have to worry about decisions being made for re-election purposes.” (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
SENATE PANEL APPROVES BILL FOR MAIL VOTING
TRENTON – A bill that sets up a three-tiered vote-by-mail system was narrowly approved Monday by a state Senate panel whose members differ on whether it could prevent fraud.
Republicans on the Senate’s State Government Committee say the bill lacks safeguards, while Democrats say those safeguards are in place.
The bill passed 3-2. State Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, voted in favor of it. (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
FILING: BRYANT VERDICT PROPER
TRENTON Prosecutors are urging a federal judge to uphold the corruption conviction of former Sen. Wayne Bryant, in response to his attempt to have the jury verdict thrown out or be granted a new trial.
In court papers filed this week, federal prosecutors also asked for the conviction of his co-defendant, R. Michael Gallagher, ex-dean at the School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM), to stand. (Graber, Gloucester County Times)
BLAGOJEVICH’S LATEST: MENENDEZ TESTIMONY CAN HELP CLEAR ME
Impeached former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich now wants a favorite son of Hudson County to help prove he’s not a crook.
During an appearance on NBC’s “Today Show” yesterday morning, Blagojevich named U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, of Hoboken, as one of the people he spoke to about naming a Senate replacement for President Barack Obama, and said he’d want Menendez to testify at his anticipated corruption trial. (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)
CORZINE INSISTS HE’S NOT IN REELECTION MODE
Governor Corzine has not yet officially declared himself a candidate for re-election, but for the past few weeks – ever since republican Chris Christie confirmed his intention to run for Governor – Corzine has been making an increasing number of public appearances all over the State.
During an event at the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside, the Governor insisted he is not revving up his re-election campaign. (New Jersey 101.5)
REPUBLICAN PRIMARIES? PERISH THE THOUGHT
Republicans pound their chests with pride, and even tear up on occasion, when preaching the virtues of free market competition – except when it comes to intraparty politics.
Mere mention of a primary this year in the governor’s race or in the North Jersey contests for the state Assembly and the free-marketers suddenly shudder in fear and disgust. It means forcing calcified incumbents to get off their cash hoards and defend themselves. It means forcing the party operatives to take sides.
It means – God forbid – giving voters choices.
Joseph Caruso, a Lyndhurst businessman and party operative chafing at conventional party wisdom, says he’s startled by all the fuss he has caused by pursuing a challenge against the incumbents in the Assembly’s 40th Legislative District.
“Should insiders … hand-pick who is best, or should the voters make the decision? I don’t know what the problem is,” said Caruso, who lives in Wayne.
Caruso has rankled party regulars who believe his candidacy is part of a complicated two-county strategy to knock Assemblyman Scott Rumana out of his other political job, the Passaic County Republican Party chairmanship.
Critics say Caruso is being propped up by a cabal of Passaic County hardliners aligned with Peter Murphy, the former GOP party boss and determined Rumana foe. Caruso strenuously denies the charge.
Party officials also fear that a 40th District primary could force Rumana and running mate David Russo of Ridgewood to needlessly spend money that would better be spent waging war on Democrats in November. Caruso served as the Bergen County Republican Organization’s finance chairman last year, helping it stockpile cash. Now he threatens to indirectly drain the very fund he helped build.
“They create dissension,” said BCRO Chairman Bob Yudin, who has tried, unsuccessfully, to dissuade Caruso from running. The district includes parts of Essex, Passaic and Bergen counties.
Yudin says primaries only “make sense” when there is a
vacancy or if an incumbent “does something egregious,” like get indicted. Challenging “popular incumbents … is not conducive to party building.”
The Internal Party Argument sounds sensible, at first. Yudin and other chairmen are cobbling together campaigns on shoestring budgets in a Democrat-dominated state. State party coffers are nearly empty. And past party squabbles, particularly in Bergen, have left the party in disarray. And why should the Bergen organization waste its resources on what is essentially a Passaic County turf battle?
All this might be true, but why should Republican Party voters be denied choices because the insurgent’s motives are suspect or because he doesn’t fit nicely into the statewide strategy? Legislative primaries in New Jersey are lame, low-turnout rituals. Incumbents generally yawn their way through them, flecking off the occasional gadfly with little effort. Voters stay home because they generate little interest.
Caruso is a member of the conservative wing of the party who believes the New Jersey GOP has become too liberal, too amorphous, too much like generic Trenton pols. “Where, for instance, are the Republican rallies to overturn the socialist edicts of the Council on Affordable Housing that even many Democrats think is a disastrous idea?” Caruso railed in a recent release.
Personally, I don’t think this kind of rhetoric will sway too many voters in the 40th, but who really knows unless it’s tested on the trail? If Rumana and the laundry list of party officials who endorsed them believe they represent the GOP base, then, in theory, they have nothing to worry about. The cost will be minimal. Will they really waste that much money? And what better way to test Caruso’s claim to independence than a vigorous Jersey campaign fight?
A similar impulse to minimize the competition in the governor’s race surfaced at a recent meeting of county chairmen in Princeton. (Stile, Record)
‘REFORMERS’ DARKENED BY HCDO SHADOW
The Hoboken municipal election battle map has a new icon on it now that 4th Ward Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer has announced that she wants to be ma
Does this mean the mayoral debate should be held in Buskers?
Hopefully, the election intensity has gone up a notch. With the yet to be announced mayoral candidate 2nd Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason running, and another yet to be made public candidate, like At-Large Councilman Peter Cammarano, in the race, the chess match should be played with maces and axes. (Torres, Jersey Journal)
ADLER RESIGNS FROM COUNCIL IN CHERRY HILL
Shelley Adler, wife of freshman U.S. Rep. John Adler (D., N.J.), has announced her resignation from Cherry Hill Township Council, citing time constraints resulting from her husband’s new job in Washington.
“I have found that his service in Washington, D.C., has placed unanticipated and extraordinary demands on my time,” Shelley Adler said in a letter to the township clerk dated Monday. (Katz, Inquirer)
PAY-TO-PLAY REFORMS BACK ON THE TABLE FOR SOMERVILLE COUNCIL MEETING MONDAY
SOMERVILLE -The mayor and borough council tonight will again discuss potential reforms targeting the exchange of political donations for government work, a practice known as pay to play.
The council passed two measures in November preventing the borough from contracting with a developer if the company or professionals contracting with it have given $300 or more to a local candidate or official involved in the agreement or a municipal party, as well as restricting how much professionals who want government work in excess of $5,000 can give to local candidates or committees. (Bricketto, Courier News)