Winners and Losers; Week of the Toll Hike NJ-NY lovefest

WINNERS 

Chris Christie

Operatives in both parties brooded on what they saw as disingenuous theatrics, as the governor played out a weeklong clock’s worth of press conferences in which he chatted up his bipartisan work with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, before both governors walked back – as expected – a steep Port Authority-proposed toll increase to a more modest $1.50. Still, it wasn’t all good news by a long shot, as Democrats, including Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37) today demanded that Christie tackle allegations of waste and taxpayer abuse at the Port Authority before considering any toll increases at the trans-Hudson crossings.

Dan Benson

The 14th District incumbent assemblyman received a boost this week when Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried ended his challenge to address a personal health issue. A credible challenger, Fried had the attention of people in both parties. Democrats feared he could pick off Benson in the split-ticket voting 14th. The fact that the GOP had to scramble to find a replacement (Robbinsville Councilwoman Sherie McGowan was the final pick) just gave Benson more time to drill into his base. The freshman assemblyman, moreover, was glued to Christie for two straight weeks as a co-prime sponsor of environmental protection, farmland preservation, bay protection, veterans programs and other bipartisan bills. 

Don DiFrancesco

Thanks to the intervention of Gov. Chris Christie, the former acting governor will have a speaking role at next month’s 911 memorial service. The New York Post reported that NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg initially refused to give Donny D a microphone, but relented after Christie cried foul.

Len Luciano

The 4th District Essex County freeholder candidate won the coveted “A” line this week in his bid to succeed Linda Lordi Cavanaugh in a highly anticipated contest with Cedar Grove Deputy Mayor Joe Chiusolo.

Michele Bachmann

The Minnesota Congresswoman and Tea Party leader won the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll, effectively knocking fellow Minnesotan (and former Governor) Tim Pawlenty out of the presidential race.

Felix Roque

Administrative Law Judge Solomon Metzger Monday ruled invalid the appointments of West New York Board of Education members Janet Passante and Alexander Locatelli, appointees made by departing Mayor Sal Vega. That puts Roque in a better position to seat his own school board members.

Terry Dopp

The Bloomberg reporter tried to tease the governor over the line yesterday when he blithely asked Christie if he and NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo intended to veto the plan put forward by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, threatening to catch Christie in admitting the set-up. Christie played along, joking that the question almost caught him off guard.

LOSERS

Joe Spicuzzo

The State Police Division of Criminal Justice Corruption Bureau today obtained an 11-count indictment against former Middlesex County Democratic Committee Chairman Joe Spicuzzo, who as sheriff allegedly conspired in a jobs-for-cash scheme in which Spicuzzo collected approximately $112,000 in bribes from individuals seeking positions or promotions in the sheriff’s office, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Anthony S. Jones

The former driver of Perth Amboy Mayor Joe Vas pleaded guilty this week to third-degree falsifying or tampering with records. Jones admitted that he falsified financial information that he submitted to qualify for an affordable two-family home on Market Street in Perth Amboy through the Perth Amboy Home Program

The Bayshore Tea Party

A Superior Court judge this week rejected the group’s motion to enjoin the current legislative map, saying the tea party had not demonstrated that their suit to invalidate the map would succeed in court. Judge Linda Feinberg said she was inclined to dismiss the complaint entirely but will reserve judgment until the end of next week.

Carl Lewis

The twitter account is up and working but the troubled state Senate venture of the former nine-time Olympic Gold Medalist sustained another false start this week as Secretary of State (and Lt. Gov.) Kim Guadagno fired off a letter to U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman. “Although the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ordered Mr. Lewis’ name to appear on the primary ballot, that order was carefully circumscribed and limited only to the primary ballot – the sole issue before the Third Circuit at the time of its order,” Guadagno wrote.

Peter Kane

The New Jersey director of the Tim Pawlenty presidential campaign joined the cause after his former candidate, ex-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, announced he would not be a presidential candidate this year. Kane’s work for Pawlenty would prove to be short-lived, as the former Minnesota governor went belly up in Iowa and ended his presidential bid.

Winners and Losers; Week of the Toll Hike NJ-NY lovefest