Morning News Digest: June 7, 2013
By Matt Arco
Dozens of state Democrats throw support to Lesniak for state chairman
More than three dozen high ranking Democrats including leaders from both houses of the legislature and several county chairmen tonight threw their support behind state Sen. Ray Lesniak for state party chairman.
Among the officials lending their support to Lesniak are Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, Senate President Pro Tempor Nia Gill. (Isherwood/PolitickerNJ)
Names in the AG Game
As soon as Gov. Chris Christie made his announcement that Attorney General Jeff Chiesa would be his choice to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy, political insiders pounced on the question of who might succeed Chiesa at the Division of Justice.
The following people quickly surfaced as potential successors to Chiesa. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
Currie stands by Buono on state chair issue
In the aftermath of South Jersey Democratic Leader George Norcross’s endorsement today of state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20) for state party chair, a key northern Democratic Party leader objected.
Veteran Passaic County Democratic Chairman John Currie said he will continue to support state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-20), who backs Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell (D-31) to be chair of the Democratic Party. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
Cryan slaps down Sweeney gun measure amid backdrop of state chairman spectacle
Assemblyman Joe Cryan got a little payback today.
Days after Senate President Steve Sweeney called state party chairman-to-be Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell a “beard” for Cryan and said the pair were dividing the Democratic party, Cryan put a bullet in Sweeney’s signature gun control package.
The move came just minutes after Sweeney ally George Norcross threw his weight behind state Sen. Ray Lesniak for state party chairman over O’Donnell, who is Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono’s choice. (Isherwood/PolitickerNJ)
Sources: Buono fighting Dem Primary contenders as much as Dems’ establishment
The late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) lay in state at the U.S. Capitol as the New Jersey Democratic Party turned on itself with renewed vigor in the wake of his long and much praised public service career.
Gov. Chris Christie had not yet uttered the name of the late Senator Lautenberg’s replacement as phones buzzed anew with the hissed back and forth of a particularly bruising backroom battle for state party committee votes. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
George Norcross backs Lesniak for state party chairman
South Jersey political power broker George Norcross today backed state Sen. Ray Lesniak to take over as the Democratic State Party Chairman.
Norcross called Lesniak a “statesman” and said the party would be lucky to have the senator at the helm. (Isherwood/PolitickerNJ)
Christie says Jon Stewart took his comments out of context
TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie says The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart took his comments out of context when the Comedy Central program host slammed the governor for his so-called “self-serving, corrupt abuse of power.”
Stewart’s comments were in reference to Christie’s decision to call for a special election in October to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg. The election, which will happen less than a month before the November election, is estimated to cost the state nearly $12 million. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)
Lonegan on Chiesa appointment; and recent Tea Party efforts: ‘I wasn’t running’
Formally kicking off his U.S. Senate campaign at his home in Bogota, Steve Lonegan said Gov. Chris Christie’s choice to fill the vacant seat of the late U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) did not surprise him, and called the choice “perfectly fine.”
“I think the governor has handled this well,” said the former mayor of Bogota and 2009 candidate for governor. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
Christie appoints Chiesa to fill Lautenberg’s U.S. Senate seat
TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie tapped state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa as New Jersey’s next U.S. senator.
Chiesa, 47, will serve in the U.S. Senate until residents elect someone to replace him during the Oct. 16 special election. Chiesa has served as New Jersey’s Attorney General under Christie since January 2012. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)
NJ attorney general named to fill US Senate seat
TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie named a longtime loyal colleague, state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa, to temporarily fill the U.S. Senate seat Thursday that opened up this week after Frank Lautenberg’s death.
Chiesa, 47, has never held or run for political office and will not seek the office in an October special election to fill the seat for a longer period, Christie said. (Delli Santi & Mulvihill/AP)
Christie: Bill to move up state election won’t fly
Gov. Chris Christie says proposed legislation to move the November election to mid-October will end up “on the ash heap.”
Sen. Shirley Turner wants to move the Nov. 5 general election to Oct. 16. The Democrat says it would save taxpayers $12 million and avoid having two statewide elections within three weeks. (AP)
Lautenberg lies in repose in Senate chamber
The flag-draped casket holding Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey was carried slowly up the steps of the Capitol on Thursday, under overcast skies and before a solemn crowd of congressional staff and family members.
The only sounds heard on the East plaza of the Capitol were the footsteps of the nine-member honor guard trudging up the stairs — and camera clicks from tourists and members of the media. (Herman/APP)
Who is Jeff Chiesa?
Jeff Chiesa is a longtime colleague of Gov. Chris Christie, and first worked for the governor when Christie was the U.S. attorney for New Jersey. (APP)
Camden Schools Takeover: Day One, and Counting
The president of the State Board of Education yesterday characterized the formal approval of the takeover of Camden’s public schools as “historic.”
To the teachers in Camden High School, however, the event was less than momentous. (Mooney/NJSpotlight)
Families of Disabled Residents Sue to Keep Developmental Centers Open
Families of intellectually disabled residents are trying to stop the state from closing developmental centers in Woodbridge and Totowa, filing a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Newark yesterday.
The class-action lawsuit filed by 38 families alleges that the state violated the constitutional rights of center residents and also broke a series of federal laws by closing the facilities, forcing their families to either move them to smaller group homes or to more distant developmental centers. (Kitchenman/NJSpotlight)
COAH in Court: Can It Try to Collect Funds from Municipalities?
The question of whether the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing should be allowed to continue its efforts to take from municipalities $164 million meant for the construction of low-priced homes is again before an appeals court panel, which heard arguments on both sides of the issue on Wednesday. (O’Dea)
Sheila Oliver ‘seriously considering’ run for U.S. Senate in special election
New Jersey Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver is “seriously considering” a run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated when Frank Lautenberg died Monday, an aide said tonight.
“The speaker has been having conversations with party folks, some women’s groups and a few others,” said Oliver’s chief of staff, Chris James. “She’s seriously considering running for the Senate.” (Giambusso/Star-Ledger)
From the Back Room
Oliver’s U.S. Senate Gambit
Sources close to Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) gave various interpretations of the speaker’s game of footsy with the vacant U.S Senate seat.
The speaker is said to be in touch with at least one woman’s group at the national level about the prospect of running in the August Primary. (PolitickerNJ)
The Branchburg Senators
One Somerset senator congratulated another today.
State Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-16), Branchburg, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was happy to hear of Gov. Chris Christie’s choice for U.S. Senate. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)
Wanted: Canvassers for Senate sigs
It looks like U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone has started his signature gathering in advance of an August U.S. Senate primary.
PolitickerNJ was first to report this week that Pallone planned to run in the expedited primary and yesterday a consultant posted a help wanted ad on Google group “Jobs That Are Left.” (Isherwood/PolitickerNJ)
The Lesniak State Chair Comeback?
Trying to get something going against Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell’s (D-31) state party chairmanship candidacy in the lead up to a party convention, a Democratic senator from Bergen County allied with Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) threw his support behind veteran state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20).
“I would like to be the first to support Ray Lesniak to unify our party during difficult and challenging times,” said state Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-36). “It will only benefit our party. I have served with him and he has served as a mentor and adviser to me and to many across the state.” (PolitickerNJ)
Stile: Steve Lonegan winds up relevant once again
Chris Christie vanquished Tea Party champion Steve Lonegan in the 2009 Republican primary for governor. Four years later, Christie may play a major role in reviving Lonegan’s political career.
Christie’s ordered a special election in October to replace Democratic U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died at the age of 89 on Monday. (Stile/The Record)