Morning Digest: Oct. 16, 2013

N.J. political bosses take center stage at gubernatorial debate

MONTCLAIR – It didn’t take long for tempers to flare up during Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate.

It started with Sen. Barbara Buono, carried on with Gov. Chris Christie and ended with a rowdy member of the audience that had to be ejected from the Montclair State University’s theater where the second and final gubernatorial debate was held.

Debate moderator Mike Schneider began the exchange when he tossed his first question to Buono. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)   






Lonegan doubles down on ‘bodies floating in the Passaic River,’ vows victory tomorrow

MORRISTOWN – Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan led an election eve rally at the green here, vowing to defeat Newark Mayor Cory Booker in a resounding win for America and the ideas furnished by the country’s founding fathers.

“The things we stand for are the values and principles of our ancestors, our neighbors, our friends, the people who go to work every day… going to the shooting ranges on Saturday, church on Sunday and work on Monday,” said Lonegan, who staunchly backs the Tea Party-led shutdown of the federal government.

“The nation tomorrow night will be rocked,” he added, vowing to paint in bold colors, not pale pastels.

The crowd of a couple hundred people loved it, sporting straw hats with “Lonegan” printed front and back and waving and shaking signs in support of the candidate. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ) 






Polls open at 6 a.m. for N.J. special Senate election

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. today for the special election to fill the unexpired term of longtime U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died June 3 at age 89.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker is running on the Democratic ticket. Former three-term Bogota Mayor Steven Lonegan is running on the Republican ticket.

To learn where you can vote, call your municipal clerk’s office or visit the New Jersey Division of Elections at (The Record) 






Booker-Lonegan Special Election Seen as Referendum on Shutdown Politics

U.S. Senate outcome also hinges on get-out-the-vote operation and what voters think of Booker, experts agree

Today’s special U.S. Senate election between Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan is being touted by President Obama, national Republican leaders, and the candidates themselves as a referendum on the House Republicans’ decision to force a partial federal government shutdown and risk a first-ever federal debt default in an attempt to derail Obama’s Affordable Care Act and compel federal spending cuts.

But with an uncertain turnout expected in New Jersey’s first-ever Wednesday election and with Booker’s once-shimmering national brand tarnished by a series of self-inflicted gaffes and personal attacks by Lonegan, pollsters and political analysts say they won’t know until the election returns come in tonight how to read the message that voters are sending. (Magyar/NJSpotlight) 






Second Debate Shows More Confident Buono, But Undaunted Christie

Last debate of season covers wide range of issues, some familiar, some new.

State Sen. Barbara Buono was feistier, better prepared, and even landed a couple of zingers on Gov. Chris Christie last night at their second and final debate.

By some accounts, albeit mostly Buono’s backers, she might have even won the debate. Afterward, her supporters clearly were more pleased than a week ago after the first encounter, and Christie supporters more subdued.

But while the 90-minute exchange held at Montclair State University did introduce some news and drama — and even a little levity — into the governor’s race, there was not a sense afterward that this would be a game-changer for the Democratic challenger who stands at a double-digit deficit in the polls. (Mooney/NJSpotlight) 






Eminent domain costs increase in Harvey Cedars


HARVEY CEDARS — As oceanfront Shore towns prepare for the legal wrangling needed to obtain easements for dune repairs, one Long Beach Island community already is deep into the process and knows from experience it can be costly.

Since December 2008, Harvey Cedars has spent $2.1 million to acquire nine easements through eminent domain for a federally funded beach replenishment project. That amount — a hefty price tag for this seasonal island community stretching just 1.2 miles — is expected to grow with two cases yet to be settled. The cost includes settlements, lawyers, engineers and appraisers fees for the process. (Huba/Asbury Park Press) 






Senate victor’s swear-in date up in the air

Today’s special election means interim U.S. Sen. Jeff Chiesa’s service in Washington is nearly over — though how soon it will end is still up in the air.

Chiesa is due in Lakewood on Thursday for what’s ostensibly a welcome-home fundraiser for the Republican State Committee. But he won’t be back in Branchburg quite yet, and may be asked to cast important votes related to the federal debt ceiling before Cory Booker or Steve Lonegan gets the green light from the state to be sworn in to Congress.

All the state Division of Elections can say about its postelection timetable is that the results will be certified by the Board of State Canvassers on or before Nov. 13 — four weeks from today — as required by law. (Symons/Asbury Park Press) 






Buono releases health details; no medical records yet from Christie

Governor Christie — who drew national attention after an asthma attack two years ago and again when he had secret weight loss surgery this year — has yet to release his medical records after saying he would do so last week.

Christie, a Republican, and Barbara Buono, his Democratic challenger, both said they would release their medical information in response to a question in last week’s gubernatorial debate. Buono, a Middlesex County state senator, made public a letter from her physician Tuesday before the two candidates were set to participate in their final debate at Montclair State University.

Buono’s doctor said she is in “excellent health” and although she has high cholesterol she does not need medication to treat it.

Christie’s campaign has yet to disclose his medical history. The Record requested Christie’s record from his campaign Oct. 8.  (Hates/State House Bureau) 







N.J. election spending soars: Political groups’ $21M shatters Jersey record


Independent political groups have shattered New Jersey’s record for campaign spending — this in a year when polls have consistently predicted lopsided results.

These groups, which are not covered by the state’s campaign disclosure rules and pay-to-play laws, have spent $21 million on gubernatorial and legislative races, according to an Election Law Enforcement Commission report issued Tuesday. That beats the previous spending record — $14.1 million in 2009 — by 50 percent, with more money on the way.

Governor Christie has benefited the most from the money, with $7.8 million flowing from the Committee for Our Children’s Future — a super PAC founded by Christie supporters — and $1.7 million from the Republican Governors Association. And that money was spent during the primary campaign, when he didn’t face a significant challenger. If reelected, Christie will head the governors association.

“Independent groups that support Christie seem to have wanted to overwhelm [challenger Barbara] Buono from the very beginning, when she didn’t have the resources to respond,” said Ben Dworkin, a professor of political science at Rider University. “In effect, these independent expenditure groups were able to define the Democratic gubernatorial candidate before she could define herself. Historically, this has been a very effective tactic.”

Tuesday’s report did not specify how the groups spent that money, although several have launched advertising campaigns on television and online. The report also didn’t give the total amounts given in support of each candidate. (Linhorst/State House Bureau) 






Search for budget deal switches to Senate

WASHINGTON — Time growing desperately short, Senate leaders took command of efforts to avert a Treasury default and end the partial government shutdown Tuesday night after a last big attempt by House Republicans abruptly collapsed.


Aides to both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, expressed revived optimism about chances for a swift agreement — by today at the latest — that could pass both houses. Their efforts toward a bipartisan resolution had seemed likely to bear fruit a day earlier before House conservatives were given a last-minute chance for their version. (Espo/Associated Press) 






Chris Christie discusses gay marriage


Republican Gov. Chris Christie said Tuesday that if one of his four children came out as gay, he would “grab them and hug them and tell them I love them.”

He would also tell them “that Dad believes that marriage is between one man and one woman,” he said.


The New Jersey governor’s comments came in a debate at Montclair State University in Montclair — his second and final one against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono — after the state Supreme Court agreed to weigh his administration’s appeal of a ruling to allow gay marriage.


Buono, who has an openly gay daughter, declined to respond to Christie’s statement. (Titus/Politico) 





Obama email list used to boost Booker, McAuliffe

President Barack Obama’s massive campaign email list is finally being deployed on behalf of other Democrats.


In two email blasts to voters this week, Democratic campaigns in Virginia and New Jersey were boosted by the list — which is still under the control of the Democratic National Committee.


In an email sent out under New Jersey Senate candidate Cory Booker’s name, the DNC asked voters in the Garden State to go to the polls Wednesday.


“For two weeks, Tea Party extremists have shut down our government — but tomorrow, you have an opportunity to fight back,” Booker wrote. “I’m running in a special election to represent New Jersey in the Senate, and my Tea Party opponent says if he wins this election, it will force President Obama to ‘fold’ and give in to demands from extremists like him. But by finishing this election strong we can send our own message to Washington that their shutdown politics won’t fly with New Jersey voters.” (Tau/Politico)





N.J. farm preservation program marks success


WEST DEPTFORD — Fred and Hoss Grasso grow a lot of fruits and veggies on their 100-acre farm in Mullica Hill, including strawberries, asparagus, cucumbers, squash and watermelon.

When the brothers heard the Urban Farm in West Deptford was for sale, they jumped at the chance to expand. What sealed the deal was that the 106-acre property is part of the state’s Farmland Preservation Program.

The program celebrated its 30th anniversary at the Urban Farm Tuesday. It limits participating land to agricultural use in exchange for development rights purchased by the state.

Authorities from the state and county paid more than $1 million to the Urban family last October. (Sokolic/Courier-Post) 





Supporters of tuition break for immigrants find hope in Christie comments

NEWARK — Supporters of “Dream Act”-style legislation that would allow immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to pay in-state tuition rates in New Jersey are claiming that Gov. Chris Christie has endorsed the idea.

In a video of a keynote speech Christie delivered Saturday, the governor says the state legislature needs to work on various items including “making sure there’s tuition equality for everybody in New Jersey.”

Christie made the remarks during the annual gala of The Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey.

A Christie spokesman did not immediately respond Tuesday to a request for comment. Christie has previously pledged to veto tuition equality legislation, which has failed to pass in New Jersey (Associated Press) 








N.J. nuclear plants make list of safety violations by site in U.S.


The number of lower-level safety violations per reactor at U.S. commercial nuclear power plants shows extraordinary differences among U.S. regions, pointing to inconsistent enforcement, according to an unreleased Government Accountability Office report obtained by The Associated Press. Higher-level violations are more uniform across the regions. (Associated Press) 







Christie says tough talk would continue


MONTCLAIR — Gov. Chris Christie promised to lead New Jersey with the same aggressive style if he wins a second term, while his re-election opponent, Democrat Barbara Buono, pledged Tuesday to remain independent from party bosses who have been sitting on their hands during her campaign if she becomes governor.

Christie and Buono squared off for 90 minutes during their second and final debate at Montclair State University. The election is Nov. 5.

As he did in the first debate with Buono last week, Christie again refused to rule out a run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. If that happens, it’s unlikely he would finish his term. (Associated Press) 







 From the Back Room



Today is Election Day

The polls are open in New Jersey for today’s special U.S. Senate Election.

Democrat Cory Booker is facing Republican Steve Lonegan for the seat vacated by the late Frank Lautenberg.

Polls are open until 8 p.m. (PolitickerNJ Staff/PolitickerNJ) 





Latest Christie TV ad highlights African-American support


TRENTON – A minister who has endorsed the re-election of Gov. Chris Christie is front and center of the newest TV ad for the campaign, “Courageous Leadership.”

The Rev. Joe Carter of New Hope Baptist Church in Newark emphasizes in the ad African-American support for Christie, and slaps at Dems for taking the voting bloc for granted. (PolitickerNJ Staff/PolitickerNJ) 





The Rakowski file


Former Jersey City Mayor Joe Rakowski’s imminent formal endorsement of U.S. Senate candidate Steve Lonegan caused a tremor of delight through Hudson County Democratic Party circles.

Rakowski served as acting mayor in 1992, immediately following Marilyn Roman, who stepped in that same year after the corruption meltdown of Gerry McCann. (PolitickerNJ Staff/PolitickerNJ)   Morning Digest: Oct. 16, 2013