Morning digest: Nov. 9, 2012

Weinberg: Booker best choice in 2013

With the clocking ticking on Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s gubernatorial gutchecking, state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37) said the mayor would be the party’s best choice to challenge Gov. Chris Christie.

“Definitely Cory Booker, yes, I think he’d be an excellent nominee,” Weinberg told “He has everything people look for in a candidate: he has the gravitas, the finanicial ability and he has the broad support throughout the state, including support from the African-American community and from the gay rights community. He’s got that persona,, and I would think if Cory Booker wants it, the nomination is his.”

Weinberg ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2009, then bounced back to become senate majority leader last year. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)


Source: Byrne feeling out gubernatorial run

Former Democratic State Party Chairman Tom Byrne, son of former Gov. Brendan Byrne, is interested in running for governor, a source told

The principal of Byrne Asset Management of Princeton, Byrne is a former Lehman Brothers salesman with an undergraduate degree from Princeton University and a Fordham University law degree. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)


Can Kyrillos run again? Not likely, pundits say

When state Sen. Joe Kyrillos jumped into the race for a U.S. Senate seat, many Republicans were skeptical of the move owing to a difficult year for the GOP with President Obama expected to win the state handily.

Why go out now, some in the GOP reasoned, when he stood little chance to win and every chance to lose big.

Now, both pundits and senior members of the party say Kyrillos’ 19 point loss to incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez has all but quashed any future statewide viability. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



Latest from State Street Wire

Backers of pot decriminalization in N.J. take heart from votes elsewhere

TRENTON – Two states this week approved voter referendums legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes, and some advocates in say it’s time that New Jersey follows suit.

On Tuesday, voters in Colorado and Washington approved marijuana legalization. Under the measures, personal possession of up to an ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana would be legal for anyone who’s at least 21 years old.

The passed measures will also allow marijuana to be legally sold and taxed at stores, in a system similar to the ones states set up to allow selling of alcohol. (Hassan, State Street Wire)



Study says N.J. reaches milepost in solar installation

TRENTON – A new study states that New Jersey has achieved a milestone in solar energy.

A study prepared by Clean Power Research for The Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association and the Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association concluded New Jersey is the first state in the nation to generate more than 1 percent of its annual electricity from solar energy.

One percent may not sound like much, but for the state that is generally ranked either second in the nature in terms of solar energy installations, it is an important milepost. (Mooney, State Street Wire)



Latest from Back Room

Jersey Boy makes good

Former New Jersey resident Patrick Morrissey, who in 2000 lost a primary bid for the House of Representatives, found himself a job in politics Tuesday as he unseated a 20-year West Virginia attorney general.

Morrissey, who lost a four-candidate, 7th District Republican primary that included Mike Ferguson and Tom Kean Jr., has reportedly had a house in West Virginia for the past six years. Ferguson won the primary and eventually the seat, replacing Bob Franks, who had retired in order to run for U.S. Senate against Jon Corzine.  Kean Jr. came in second and former Assemblyman Joel Weingarten was third.

Ferguson eventually defeated former Fanwood Mayor Maryanne Connelly to win the seat he held until 2008, when he did not run for re-election. (Isherwood, PolitickerNJ)



Controversial gas pipeline project takes step forward

Pending approval of a final implementation plan, a controversial interstate energy expansion project got the green light from state and federal regulatory officials to construct nearly 7 miles of natural gas pipeline through central New Jersey.

The $341 million Northeast Supply Link project is designed to expand the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co.’s existing underground pipeline infrastructure to transport natural gas produced by Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale fields to northeastern markets. The project is expected to deliver gas to Princeton and New York by November 2013, with construction scheduled to begin this spring, according to a spokeswoman for the project’s owner, Tulsa-based natural gas transporter Williams Partners LP.

According to the firm’s website, the Transco gas pipeline already extends 25 miles between Roseland and Rutherford, and the expansion project will install a new 6.7-mile loop of pipes 42 inches in diameter through Hunterdon County. (Eder, NJBiz)



N. Jersey animal shelters hit hard by Sandy

On North Jerseyans’ to-do list after superstorm Sandy: Repairing storm damage. Finding gasoline. Keeping warm. Nowhere on that list was adopting a pet.

“It’s absolutely not a priority,” said Marge Kayne, president of Save The Animals Rescue Team II, which operates an Englewood shelter. “An animal is another mouth to feed, another thing to take care of, and people aren’t coming out now to adopt.”

The storm — and the power outages that followed — occurred at an awful time for animal shelters and rescue groups. Fall is popular for adoptions because animals have time to acclimate to their new homes before the stressful holidays. (Levin, Record)



Obama to address fiscal impasse

WASHINGTON — House Republicans’ hard line against higher tax rates for upper-income earners leaves a reelected President Obama with a tough, core decision: Does he pick a fight and risk falling off a “fiscal cliff,” or does he rush to compromise and risk alienating liberal Democrats?

Or is there another way that will allow both sides to claim victory?

Obama has been silent since his victory speech early on Wednesday but is set to weigh in Friday in remarks at the White House. (Associated Press)



Obama re-election makes muni tax cap more plausible, Posner says

President Barack Obama’s re-election makes his proposal to cap the tax-exemption for interest on municipal debt “more plausible,” said Matt Posner at Municipal Market Advisors.

Obama, in an effort to trim the federal budget deficit, has proposed limiting the value of the muni-bond tax break for higher earners to 28 percent, down from 35 percent. Local governments can borrow more cheaply through the $3.7 trillion municipal market because investors are willing to accept lower yields in return for tax-free income. (Chappatta/Glasgall, Bloomberg)



Trenton mayor schedules ‘Ask the Mayor’ sessions for public amid probes

Trenton Mayor Tony Mack will open himself up for questions in a new weekly series of meetings called “Ask the Mayor,” he announced Wednesday.

The beleaguered mayor, arrested in September on a federal bribery charge, called the sessions a new “constituent-centered initiative” that would allow members of the press and local community to engage in weekly Q-and-As with the mayor.

The meetings will take place every Tuesday from 10:30 to 11 a.m. in the mayor’s conference room on the second floor of City Hall. The first Ask the Mayor will take place Tuesday, Nov. 13.  (Duffy, Trenton Times)



Casinos fine after Sandy, but Oct. revenues will be ugly

ATLANTIC CITY – Superstorm Sandy decimated Atlantic City’s casino revenue at the end of last month.

Yet the powerful storm left the 12 gambling halls virtually untouched — a fact that casino and tourism leaders are making a renewed effort to publicize.

The state Division of Gaming Enforcement will release the October revenue figures this afternoon, and they’re expected to be brutal. The only question is how much did revenue plunge, not whether it did. (Associated Press)


Congressman Smith urges extension of federal assistance deadline

Newly reelected U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th, is urging President Barack Obama to extend the federal cost share waiver deadline, which is scheduled to expire Friday.

The 10-day waiver reimburses communities for 100 percent of their emergency power restoration and emergency transportation expenses following major events, such as Hurricane Sandy. (Spahr,



Christie lauds utility crews

SOMERSET, N.J. – Gov. Christie praised utility crews Thursday for working 16-hour days and through a snowstorm to restore power across New Jersey, and cautioned against casting anyone as a villain in the recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

“The villain in this case is Hurricane Sandy,” he said at a morning news conference.

The governor said he expected all New Jerseyans, except for a “few outliers,” to have electricity restored by early Sunday.

But late in the day, Jersey Central Power & Light said it would take into next week to restore power to about 120,000 households and businesses that lost service during the nor’easter that struck Wednesday. JCP&L spokesman Ron Moran did not give a specific target date. He said customers whose power was knocked out by Sandy should have it restored by the end of the weekend. (Associated Press)



N.J. schools may face influx of students displaced by storm

It’s only a trickle so far, with most New Jersey schools just beginning to reopen this week, but Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath will likely mean a sizable number of children displaced not just from their homes but from their schools.

The state this week alerted districts to the rights of those displaced students, wherever they end up after the devastating storm, and to the procedures school districts must follow.

Under the federal law that protects homeless students, known as the McKinney-Vento Act, the state’s memo said that schools must enroll students right away and can work out paperwork in the ensuing weeks. (Mooney, NJ Spotlight)

With Obama re-elected, states scramble over health law

After nearly three years of legal and political threats that kept President Obama’s health care law in a constant state of uncertainty, his re-election on Tuesday all but guarantees that the historic legislation will survive.

Now comes another big hurdle: making it work.

The election came just 10 days before a critical deadline for states in carrying out the law, and many that were waiting for the outcome must now hustle to comply. Such efforts will coincide with epic negotiations between Mr. Obama and Congress over federal spending and taxes, where the administration will inevitably face pressure to scale back some of the costliest provisions of the law. (Goodnough/Pear, New York Times)


Ethics in play as voters oust incumbents facing inquiries

WASHINGTON — It turns out that ethics really do matter here in Washington, at least according to some of the nation’s voters.

In races around the country, an unusually large number of lawmakers facing charges of wrongdoing were unceremoniously ousted from their jobs on Tuesday — which is quite rare, because more than 90 percent of the incumbents seeking re-election to Congress typically return for another term. (Lipton, New York Times)

  Morning digest: Nov. 9, 2012