Cunningham says Corzine will be a tough sell

TRENTON – State Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Jersey City) admitted today that she was irritated with Gov. Jon Corzine for not calling her personally to discuss Corzine's nomination of County Executive Tom DeGise to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

"Let's just say I wasn't asked," Cunningham told moments after state Sen. Fred Madden (D-Gloucester) gaveled out today's Senate Labor Committee hearing.

Sources say DeGise discussed his nomination with Cunningham, but Cunningham allies say the senator wanted the governor to confer with her personally, which she says never happened.

Asked who she favors as a candidate for lieutenant governor on a ticket topped by the governor in his re-election bid, Cunninghamsaid she has not considered the issue.

Asked who she could sell in Jersey City as a candidate, Cunningham said, "I haven't thought about LG. I will have a hard enough time selling the governor."

DeGise confirmed that his nomination died two weeks ago with a call from the Governor's Office.

Initially, earlier last month, "I got a call from governor saying he was ready to make the nomination and asked me ifI anticipated a problem," DeGise said. "Neither Nick (Sacco) nor Brian (Stack) had a problem, and they had written letters on my behalf.

But "Sandy told me there were other people who were involved, who she wanted," DeGise added.

The Jersey City senator threatened to veto DeGise if Corzine's administration moved ahead withhis nomination. Sheevidently wanted former state Sen Bernie Kenny(D-Hoboken) – or someone else -for the job.

Disappointed, DeGise nonetheless described himself as a strong Corzine supporter.

"It ain't his fault I got blocked," said the county executive."I'll be out there stumping for the governor.I'm an executive, I understand.None of us asked to be an executive at a time of a severe economic recession. The governor is in a difficult situation. He's in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. Bottom line: Jon Corzine cares about the urban areas. Anyone who thinks Chris Christie will sit in that governor's chair and bebetter for Hudson County is kidding themselves."

For her part, Cunningham'scomments came a few days after state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark), whoheads the Legislative Black Caucus, repeated his concern to PolitickerNJ.comthat the governor and his allies had not lately floated names of African-Americans for the position of lieutenant governor.

Rice said he could comfortably campaign with either state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) or state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), two prospective LG candidates. But the veteran state senator is not convinced that the governor is seriously considering African-Americans for the job.

"I want more assurance from the goveernor that he is taking into account African-Americans and other minorities and our particular concerns," said Rice.

Rice's information contradicts what sources say was Corzine's recent comment to a former governor that he is indeed eyeballing African-American prospects with whom to run, despite buzz in recent days that Buono and Weinberg toppedhis list of contenders.

Corzine told reporters late last week that he is still "a couple of weeks away" from announcing his running mate. Cunningham says Corzine will be a tough sell