Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo has summoned members of the Essex delegation to make his pitch on behalf of Gov. Chris Christie’s two percent hard cap for all salary arbitration agreements.
Those Democratic legislators with towns in Essex are expected to attend Friday’s breakfast session with the Democratic Party power broker.
It was DiVincenzo last week who made the rounds of calls to legislators to get to them to oppose the Democrats’ version of arbitration reform championed by Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange).
That pitted Oliver, an Essex County employee, against her own boss.
The agony continues for Oliver, who some members of the Democratic caucus see as lacking in credibility given DiVincenzo’s very publc embrace of Republican Christie and his policies.
Assembly Majority Leader Joe Cryan (D-Union) wants to stake out a harder stance against the governor, but can’t get the support of South Jersey, which cut the deal with DiVincenzo in the first place to make Oliver speaker in exchange for making Steve Sweeney of West Deptford the senate president.
In the broader context of both houses, Sweeney and DiVincenzo are still friends, according to the county executive, but sources say their relationship was strained when Sweeney teamed with other caucus members against state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark), another Joe D. county employee, whose husband, Freeholder Sammy Gonzalez, awaits trial on state charges of absentee ballot fraud.
Criticized in his own caucus for being too publicly chummy with Christie – sort of the South Jersey version of DiVincenzo – Sweeney shifted gears on the governor when he learned that Republians are gunning for him in his home county of Gloucester with Christie’s blessing, and when he saw the highlight reels of Christie badmouthing him on Christie’s nationwide GOP tour. Those factors coupled with caucus banter about how weak Democrats look in the face of Christie has caused Sweeney to dig in harder aganst the administration, on the Bret Schundler subpoena, arbitration reform and other fronts.
Tomorrow at his breakfast meeting with legislators who already bucked Sweeney on arbitration reform, DiVincenzo wants to again push back hard against Sweeney in defense of Christie on the hard cap.