Morning News Digest: November 12, 2009

Runyan ‘seriously considering’ running for Congress

Former Philadelphia Eagles star Jon Runyan confirmed today that he’s interested in running for Congress in the 3rd Congressional District. “I am seriously considering becoming a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District. Our great country is headed in the wrong direction, and it’s clearer every day that career politicians are incapable of solving the problems we face,” he said in a statement issued this afternoon. “I am grateful for the tremendous support and encouragement I have received while talking to people throughout South Jersey about running for Congress and I look forward to having more to say on this subject in the weeks ahead.” The statement was sent out by Burlington County Republican consultant Chris Russell. The effort by Republicans to recruit the former tackle to run against freshman incumbent John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) was first reported by yesterday. This is not the fist time that Adler has faced a potential challenge from a sports celebrity. Last year, Republicans courted Al Leiter — a former all-star pitcher who played with both the Yankees and the Mets — to run against him. Leiter, who grew up in Toms River but currently lives in Florida, declined, but remains interested in running for office someday. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Chiappone, re-elected by voters, wants committee assignments back

Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone (D-Bayonne) wants his committee assignments back. Chiappone, charged with allegedly cashing legislative aides' checks for personal and campaign use, was stripped of his membership in three committees by Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) immediately after he was indicted by the state Attorney General's Office. But Chiappone insists he's innocent, and news of his indictment did not doom his reelection in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans eight-to-one. Chiappone and running mate Charles Mainor – a police detective who was narrowly the top vote getter – got nearly three times the vote totals of their two Republican opponents. "Naturally I'd like to have [the committee assignments] back," said Chiappone. "What the people basically said is what I've been asking them: give me the benefit of the doubt, give me the presumption of innocence." Roberts is retiring from the Assembly. His likely replacement as Speaker, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange), could not be reached for comment. Chiappone said he would like to have a conversation with both of them. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

So far, Democrats have no challenger to Lance in 3rd District

Ask Republicans about candidate recruitment in the 3rd Congressional District, where freshman U.S. Rep. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) is expected to face a tough challenge to keep his seat, and you'll hear a long list of potential candidates. Ask Democrats the same question in freshman U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance's (R-Clinton) 7th Congressional District, and you hear just a couple names. One of them is Summit Mayor Jordan Glatt, who is considered a formidable potential candidate owing to his personal wealth and the fact that he's the first Democratic mayor in the history of his town, a Republican stronghold. But he's not interested. "Quite honestly, I feel that Leonard Lance is doing a very good job. I know it's probably going to irk my Democratic colleagues, but he's a good man," he said. "I would have to have some passion about the person I'm running against." Outgoing Edison Mayor Jun Choi is not interested either. "I just got married and we're going to start a family, so personally it's not a good time," he said. "I'm flattered that people would consider me." (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

N.J. Gov.-elect Christie names bipartisan transition team with Statehouse experience

After running for office vowing to "turn Trenton upside down," Gov.-elect Chris Christie today tapped a transition team that knows the Statehouse inside out, from a Democratic state senator and former state treasurer to longtime Republican operatives. Before he takes office Jan. 19, Christie’s inner circle will help assemble his administration, sift through mounds of information from the outgoing governor and give voice to key constituencies across the state. The 10 transition leaders will also provide policy guidance to the Republican governor-elect, a rookie in state government after spending seven years as New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor. "It’s a lot more than ceremonial," said Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac, a Democrat who was treasurer under governors James E. McGreevey and Richard Codey. "There’s 15 departments to learn about in the next 60 days, so you have to have people who know Trenton to give you a head start." In selecting McCormac and state Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson), Christie underscored the bipartisan signals he has labored to send in the days since defeating Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. When Christie takes office, no law, budget or high-level appointment will be able to pass without the approval of the Democratic-controlled Legislature. (Heininger/Megerian, Star Ledger)

Cunningham one of 2 Dems named to team guiding Christie's transition

State Sen. Sandra Cunningham is joining Gov.-elect Chris Christie's transition team. "I'm very excited," the Jersey City Democrat said. "I think it's a good opportunity." The 10-member team will be led by David Sampson, who served as state attorney general in Gov. James E. McGreevey's administration. "I am excited we have been able to put together a talented, bipartisan and dedicated group of individuals to help guide Gov.-elect Christie's transition efforts," Sampson said in a statement. "We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are ready to help execute Chris' vision for changing the way our government does business." Cunningham, who serves the 31st District, said she is unsure why Christie chose her, but said her late husband, former Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, knew Christie, the former U.S. attorney, when Cunningham was a U.S. marshal. Christie spokeswoman Maria Comella said Christie was looking for a good cross-section of people to oversee various committees that will look at hiring, policy changes and department structures, among other things. Cunningham and Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac are the only two elected Democratic members. (Hayes, Jersey Journal)

Power plant gets abatement deal, will bring $100 million to Bayonne

The Bayonne City Council unanimously approved a tax abatement Tuesday night for a power plant that is expected to generate $100 million in revenue over three decades for the city and its Municipal Utilities Authority. Council members also voted 5-0 to approve a redevelopment plan that will allow a $400 million, 512-megawatt gas-fueled power station to be built at the southeastern edge of the city and pipe power to some 500,000 Con Edison customers in New York. The tax abatement is expected to generate $45 million in revenue for the city over the abatement's 30 years. The second ordinance approves the plan needed to build the 10,800-square-foot energy center at 401 Hook Road. Speaking to the council before the vote, special counsel to the city, Joseph Baumann, of McManimon & Scotland, said the partners building the Bayonne Energy Center need the tax abatements to obtain private financing for the project, and that the ordinance is "critical" to persuade them to locate the power station in Bayonne. The Hess Corp. and its partners, Pure Energy Resources (PER) and ArcLight Capital Partners, hope to have the plant operational by 2011. The abatements would initially generate an annual $1.2 million in payments in lieu of taxes for the city, with its first hike of 2.5 percent after 13 years, Baumann said. (Hack, Jersey Journal)

NJ at risk of economic calamity, study says

New Jersey made it onto an undesirable top-10 list yesterday, ranking high among the states most at risk of economic calamity, according to a national research group. California is in a league of its own, but New Jersey also faces a steep climb out of the recession, according to a new study by the Pew Center on the States. Others in fiscal peril are Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island, the study authors warned. The states' "fiscal situations are widely expected to worsen even when the national economy starts to recover," the report said. New Jersey's "math does not add up," according to the report. Though its property taxes are the highest in the nation and it has increased sales and personal income taxes to generate more revenue in recent years, the Garden State still faces one of the biggest budget shortfalls, the study said. The report blamed "years of fiscal mismanagement" for "soaring debt and a persistent imbalance between what the state collects and what it spends." The collapse of Wall Street last year further decimated New Jersey's economy. The state's long-term debt of more than $44 billion is characterized in the study as "eye-popping," and is among the highest per-capita debt loads in the country. The state's pension funds also are severely underfunded. (Lu, Inquirer)

Mulshine: Will it be Christie’s first or McGreevey’s second?

This Sunday will mark the fifth anniversary of the day Jim McGreevey resigned the governor’s office. At the time, I thought he was gone for good. But it looks like he’ll be returning soon in spirit, if not in the flesh. That’s the only possible conclusion after Gov.-elect Chris Christie released the names of the 10 people on his transition team yesterday. Heading the team is David Samson. He was on McGreevey’s transition team in 2001 as well and went on to become his attorney general. Another veteran of the McGreevey transition is Al Koeppe, a former executive and current head of the Newark Alliance. And then there’s John McCormac, who was McGreevey’s treasurer and is now the Democratic mayor of Woodbridge. Also representing the Democratic Party is state Sen. Sandra Cunningham of Hudson County. This is the sort of thing that wins praise from pundits and editorialists as "bipartisanship." But these are the people who got us into this mess. And Christie campaigned as the guy who would get us out of it. (Mulshine, Star Ledger)

Mulshine: On health insurance he lies – and he lied

In a just released interview, President Obama deliberately distorts the nature of the individual mandate to buy health insurance. Note this quote: “I think the general broad principle is simply that people who are paying for their health insurance aren't subsidizing folks who simply choose not to until they get sick and then suddenly they expect free health insurance. That's — that's basic concept of responsibility that I think most Americans abide by,” Mr. Obama said, “penalties are appropriate for people who try to free ride the system and force others to pay for their health insurance.” Obama is too smart to believe this nonsense. He knows perfectly well what Congressman Frank Pallone told me last summer and which I cited in my prior post on this subject: The purpose of the mandate is not to get people to pay for their own costs; it's to get people to subsidize others' costs. When I asked Pallone if young people would be forced to subsidize the older generation, he said that was the whole point of the mandate. (Mulshine, Star Ledger) Morning News Digest: November 12, 2009