Morning News Digest: October 22, 2009

Latest NJ governor's race poll has Corzine, Christie neck to neck and Daggett gaining

A poll released today found Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Chris Christie running nearly even in the New Jersey governor's race. The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll showed 39 percent of likely voters supporting Corzine, 36 percent for Christie and 20 percent for independent Chris Daggett. (AP)

Eyeing a Democratic win, President Obama joins Corzine in New Jersey

Hoping to spare his party an embarrassing defeat in one of the year’s most closely watched elections, President Obama campaigned on Wednesday evening alongside New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine, saying that a Democratic victory in the state would help the president carry out the political change he was elected to bring to Washington. Mr. Corzine is the first incumbent governor to seek re-election since the economic crisis hit last fall and is locked in a tight race with the Republican nominee, Christopher J. Christie, who has blasted Mr. Corzine for New Jersey’s rising taxes and unemployment. (Kocieniewski, New York Times)

Obama takes on Christie

Stumping for Gov. Corzine this evening, President Barack Obama took some direct shots at Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie. Obama said that Corzine “understood that Pre-K isn’t babysitting – it’s a ticket to a world class education” – a reference to a point Christie made in a Republican primary debate. Christie's cam[aign today put out a web ad showing struggling New Jersey communities with inspirational Obama speech excerpts in the background, in which the President urges an end to partisan rancor. Throughout the general election campaign, Christie has remained largely uncritical of the President, sometimes even highlighting cases where the two agree. But the rhetoric from the president this evening was not mutual. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Bergen Dems weigh in on prospect of Ferriero return

If former Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joe Ferriero is acquitted of the eight corruption charges against him, it is unclear what his future will be in the Bergen County Democratic Organization (BCDO). When asked if he thinks Ferriero — who turned the county's minority party into a dominant fundraising and election-winning machine — could come back and once again be chairman, state Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Fair Lawn). said that it’s “up for the county committee to decide.” “He still has a lot of support with the county committee. Let me leave it there,” he said. The current chairman is Michael Kasparian, who was Ferriero’s preferred successor. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

If there's an opening, Dressel supports Huttle for state senate

Union Leader Richard ‘Buzzy’ Dressel says that Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Englewood) has his support to succeed state Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) in the state Senate if Weinberg becomes lieutenant governor. “[Because of] her loyalty, and I think she’s paid her dues. She’s been in line. She’s been a very effective legislator. I think it’s only right,” said Dressel, the business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 164 and past supporter of Weinberg in her intra-party battles with former Chairman Joe Ferriero, who is awaiting a verdict in his corruption trial. Dressel is not a District 37 Democratic committee member, so he will not have a vote on Weinberg's replacement. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Corzine releases charitable contributions, says Christie should do the same

Gov. Jon Corzine today released a list of nearly $3.2 million in charitable contributions made by his foundation in 2008, including $250,000 to the Rutgers University Foundation, $250,000 to the Cooper Foundation in Camden, $400,000 to the New York University Child Study Center, and $500,000 to a private school in Connecticut that his son once attended. The list of donations was provided at the request of "We scrambled to compile the list of contributions made by the Jon S. Corzine Foundation and put it out in advance of the filing extension requested to put to rest any further attempts by the Christie campaign to use these contributions as a diversion from answering questions about limo rides and five star hotels on taxpayer dime and the apparent use of the United States Attorney's office as a campaign headquarters for Christie.(Editor, PolitickerNJ)

Editorial: Gov. Jon Corzine buying a seat in heaven?

Gov. Jon Corzine is, as the old saying has it, generous to a fault.

He doles out dollars from his own personal stash like they were dimes. The list of beneficiaries includes friends and family, faithful followers and worthy charities, labor leaders and lady friends and, not incidentally, deserving Democrats, especially county bosses and assorted opinion leaders and local war lords like Newark’s North Ward’s Steve Adubato. But it’s his contribution of $87,000 in two separate donations to the Rev. Reginald Jackson and his church that’s got Republicans crying out for something like divine retribution. And all because Jackson also heads the politically powerful Black Ministers Council. That’s where the "fault" in Corzine’s generosity comes into play, according to Republican critics. To hear them tell it, you’d think Corzine was trying to buy the election or something. (Star Ledger)

Caroline Kennedy endorses Corzine at Belmar event

Fresh from a rally with President Obama, Gov. Jon Corzine arrived here to receive Caroline Kennedy's endorsement. "New Jersey came through for my father in 1960," she said. "I'm thrilled to be here in support of Jon Corzine." Kennedy is one of several top Democrats who have stumped for Corzine in recent days. In addition to Obama's visit today, Vice President Joe Biden and former president Bill Clinton have appeared with the governor this week. Stella O'Leary, chairwoman of the Irish American Democrats, said "like the Kennedys, Jon Corzine cares about people so are suffering." "It is the Irish who would return (Corzine) to the governorship," O'Leary said. "They participate, and most of all they vote." Corzine spoke last, comparing his re-election campaign to Brendan Byrne's. Byrne — another Irishman in attendance tonight — was an unpopular incumbent governor who steamed ahead to win a second term. (Megerian, Star Ledger)

Christie: I'm the change candidate

Republican Chris Christie offered himself up as the “change” candidate in the governor’s race here Wednesday, hours before President Barack Obama stumped for his rival at an event across town. “If you think New Jersey needs a change in direction… then I’m the guy to vote for. I’m the guy who’s going to bring change to the state,” Christie said to about 12 supporters at the Arena Diner. His words followed the release of a Web video featuring audio of an Obama speech in front of images of Christie supporters and the message “Mr. President, New Jerseyans want change.” The video and Christie’s Hackensack stop seemed to be an effort to co-opt Obama’s visit and famously vague one-word slogan to bolster his own campaign. A Rasmussen poll released Monday gave Christie 41 percent of likely voters to Corzine’s 39 percent – a virtual dead heat. (Van Dusen, The Record)

Sweeney open to the idea of an exit from GloCo freeholder board

There are plenty of variables that must fall into place first, but if Stephen Sweeney becomes Senate president in January, he will look to "transition" out of his job as Gloucester County freeholder director. Sweeney, one of only a handful of dual officeholders left in the state, said Wednesday he has been working out the different scenarios in recent weeks.(McCarthy, Newhouse)

Corzine releases records of $3M made in donations

Responding to Republican pressure, Gov. Jon Corzine this afternoon released records from his charitable foundation, including details on more than $3 million donations made last year. Corzine's campaign originally said the governor was breaking from his normal routine and revealing the donations only after the election. According to the records released today, Corzine spread his wealth around the state and beyond, including contributions to organizations connected to Newark power broker Steve Adubato and his son. (Megerian/Margolin, Star Ledger)

Guadagno addresses succession and role as LTG

he legislation creating the office of lieutenant governor entitled the office's occupant to one duty – to temporarily succeed the governor in the event of a vacancy and serve as governor in the event of a temporary absence. During an interview with Westfield Patch following her speech to the Rotary Club on Tuesday, Republican lieutenant governor nominee Kim Guadagno said she and running mate Chris Christie plan to address the current succession plan if elected. The current plan calls for the lieutenant governor to serve as acting governor until a special election can be held for the remainder of the term. (Celock, Westfield Patch)

A tale of two cities – and two Steve Adubatos

Tuesday was a tough day for me. I got the double Adubato. In the morning I drove to Montclair to shoot a brief TV interview with Steve Adubato Jr. about the race for governor. Adubato, who lives in Montclair, listened intently as I described how I had asked both of the major party candidates what they would do to reduce property taxes in the town, where the annual tax bill can exceed the price of a Toyota. Neither offered much hope, I said. Gov. Jon Corzine would actually make the problem worse by expanding free preschool throughout the state, thus further driving up property taxes. As for challenger Chris Christie, the Republican should be slamming the Democrats for their failure to address the property tax issue. But he has failed to address it as well. (Mulshine, Star Ledger)–_and_two.html

Daggett, Christie, Corzine prep for final debate before election

The three main candidates for governor of New Jersey will hold one final debate tonight, 12 days before Election Day. Republican Chris Christie, Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine and Independent Chris Daggett were last seen debating on TV. (AP)

Uphill battle for Dems in 40th District

History suggests that Republicans are nearly unbeatable in the race for state Assembly seats in the 40th District, a political turf comprising mostly upscale suburban communities in the counties of Bergen, Passaic and Essex. Since the district lines were redrawn following the 2000 Census, Democrats have never mounted a serious challenge in the 40th. Toney suburbs like Franklin Lakes, Ridgewood and Wayne form the heart of the district and are Republican strongholds. That gives GOP incumbents David C. Russo of Ridgewood and Scott T. Rumana of Wayne a decided advantage over their Democratic challengers, John Agostinelli of Little Falls and Mark Bombace of Ridgewood. (Cowen, The Record)

Differences in candidates' priorities emerge at Parsippany mayoral debate

The two mayoral candidates here agree local property taxes are too high. After that, they offer voters a wide choice. That came through tonight in a debate held at the Brookside senior apartments on Parsippany Boulevard. Democratic Mayor Michael Luther and Republican Councilman Jamie Barberio agreed that property taxes ranked as the No. 1 priority to address over the next four years. But on many other issues, the two steered in different directions. One of the top goals cited by Luther, seeking a second consecutive term, is to open up clogged roads in the township by expanding mass transit in Morris County’s largest town. Barberio said his focus will be to bring more business into the township. (Haik, Star Ledger)

Candidates square off on budget

Eight candidates for township council faced off at a forum Wednesday night. The hopefuls — split evenly between Democrats and Republicans — generally agreed on the need to cut taxes and fight corruption. But they differed on key issues — such as how to balance the budget and the value to taxpayers of cultural programs. "It's become increasingly difficult to live here because of the costs, and I think a big reason is pay-to-play in this township," said GOP candidate Nancy O'Dowd. "There's been one-party rule here for 25 years, and most donations to our opponents come from outside of Cherry Hill." (Hays, Gannett)

Edison GOP candidate invites Democratic mayoral hopeful to participate in debate

Republican mayoral candidate Dennis Pipala last week invited Democratic candidate Antonia Ricigliano to participate in a televised debate on the issues facing Edison. "I believe this will be a great service to our neighbors who are unsure of their voting position in the upcoming election and who want an opportunity to hear first-hand the opinions/goals of the candidates,'' Pipala said in a letter to Ricigliano.He said he has spoken with representatives from the Eagleton Institute at Rutgers and the League of Women Voters of New Jersey; who have both expressed a willingness to participate as moderator. (Gannett)

Three convicted in Atlantic City sex video blackmail case

Jurors have convicted three men of setting up a videotaped sex sting designed to blackmail an Atlantic City councilman. Floyd Tally and brothers Ronald and David Callaway were found guilty Wednesday of conspiracy, criminal coercion and invasion of privacy. The charges involved the clandestine videotaping in 2006 of Councilman Eugene Robinson, who was lured to a motel and received oral sex from a prostitute. The tape was leaked to the media in an attempt to get Robinson, who also is a minister, to resign. He refused and contacted authorities instead. (Parry, AP) Morning News Digest: October 22, 2009