Morning Digest: Oct. 17, 2013

New Jersey Senate race: Cory Booker wins

Democrat Cory Booker won the special election for New Jersey’s Senate seat on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported. The Newark mayor and heavy favorite in the race defeated Republican and former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan.

With 98 percent of precincts reporting, Booker led Lonegan by just over 10 points, 54.6 percent to 44.4 percent. (Titus/Politico) 





Obama wins

In the end, President Barack Obama got exactly what he said he wanted — a debt-limit increase, an extension of the federal government’s funding, and no overly binding strings attached — and he did it by keeping faith with his unusual watchwords: No negotiation.

Experience had taught Republicans, and even Democrats, that he would wilt. (Brown and Allen/Politico) 





Government Shutdown: Obama Signs Bill To Reopen Government, End Debt Standoff

WASHINGTON — The government shutdown is dead. Obamacare is alive.

The Senate voted 81 to 18 Wednesday night to reopen the federal government and raise the nation’s borrowing limit, hours before the Treasury Department faced the possibility of being unable to pay all of America’s bills for the first time in modern history.

The House followed suit, voting 285-144, to end the latest damaging battle of divided government in a polarized Congress.

President Barack Obama signed the legislation early Thursday. He said he would reopen the government immediately to “lift this cloud of uncertainty and unease” that settled on the nation and start fixing the damage.

“There is a lot of work ahead of us, including our need to earn back the trust of the American people that has been lost over the last few weeks,” Obama said in a brief speech at the White House. (McAulif and Siddiqui/Huffington Post) 





Democrat Cory Booker cruises to historic Senate victory

He had to work harder than many analysts expected, but Democrat Cory Booker easily won a special election Wednesday to become New Jersey’s first African-American U.S. senator.

Booker defeated Steve Lonegan, a Republican who advocated hard-line Tea Party views, opposed federal aid for Superstorm Sandy, supported the government shutdown and campaigned with national conservatives.

Booker, the mayor of Newark, was leading Lonegan, a former Bogota mayor, 55 percent to 44 percent, with 98 percent of the vote counted. Turnout was less than 25 percent, one of the lowest ever for a statewide office.

“If you voted for me, I will make you proud,” Booker said. “If you didn’t vote for me, I will work every single day to earn your trust.”

He thanked voters who showed up for the hastily scheduled election, and spoke reverently about the way the son of a couple who faced discrimination when they first tried to buy the Bergen County home where he grew up could advance in the United States.

“America can be great for every American,” he said.

Lonegan conceded shortly before 10 p.m., telling supporters in Bridgewater that despite a “phenomenal” campaign, “passion did not carry the day.”

“I’m hoping God will be with him in the decisions he makes as he goes into the U.S. Senate. And I said to myself, ‘Who wants that job anyway.’Ÿ”

Booker’s winning margin was in line with the 12-percentage-point average win that other Democratic candidates had in statewide elections since 1981. (Jackson/The Record) 






Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno encourages Mahwah businesswomen to reach out to her

Mahwah — Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno approached the podium before a group of 75 businesswomen, recited her 10-digit cellphone number and said, “Text me, or leave a message. I’ll get you an answer. You may not like it, but it’s an answer.”

She encouraged the women at the “Inspirational Women in Business” luncheon on Tuesday, Oct. 8, hosted by the Mahwah Regional Chamber of Commerce, to reach out to her when they encounter business-related “problems, because unless we talk about them, we can’t fix them.”

The luncheon, held at the DoubleTree Hotel on Route 17, was organized by the chamber “to recognize women who help our economy grow” and “to create networking opportunities where local women-owned businesses can get together and inspire each other for greater success,” chamber Executive Director Sharon Rounds said. (Carrera/Mahwah Suburban News)    










Quinnipiac: Christie leads Buono by 29%


Gov. Chris Christie can just discern Sen. Barbara Buono in his rear-view mirror, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

Christie leads Buono by 29 points, 62 – 33 percent among likely voters, according to the poll, the same as in an Oct. 10 survey.

The demographic breakdowns largely mirror that.

He leads 66 – 29 percent among men and 57 – 37 percent among women, the poll found.

White voters back Christie  67 – 29 percent while black voters back Buono 60 – 30 percent. Christie leads 92 – 6 percent among Republicans and 71 – 23 percent among independent voters, while Democrats back Buono 66 – 30 percent.

 “Gov. Christopher Christie was able to keep Mayor Cory Booker off the November ballot, and the governor certainly looks like a winner in his race against State Sen. Barbara Buono” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a release. (PolitickerNJ Staff/PolitickerNJ)  






Green switches support from Oliver to Prieto; says DiVincenzo ‘pushes it too far’

Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-22) will back Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-32) for speaker, he told

Green is a longtime supporter of Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34), but switched his support to Prieto this past weekend. 

“We talked Saturday,” said Green, the chairman of the Union County Democratic Committee. “Vinny had called me and I told him about the commitment I made to Sheila. I called supporters and they said, ‘Jerry, if she can win, we’re ready to stay in,’ but every day, everyone was dropping off. Linda, Joe, and Annette said she can’t win, and my thought was ‘I can’t be selfish about this.’ She was not going to win.” (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)








Taxes, economy, jobs cited by GOP, Democratic, independent 12th District seekers

NEPTUNE — Unlike Washington, D.C., there actually was some agreement among the seven candidates running for one state Senate and two Assembly seats in the 12th District.

That doesn’t mean they were in total lock step with each other as they responded to questions from the Asbury Park Press editorial board on Wednesday.

The Republican incumbents, Sen. Samuel Thompson and Assemblymen Robert Clifton and Ronald Dancer, face Democrats Raymond Dothard of Millstone Township, for Senate, and Assembly candidates Larry Furman of Manalapan and Nick Nellegar of Matawan. Independent Diane Bindler of Manalapan is seeking an Assembly seat.

Bindler is a real estate agent and a member of the Manalapan-Englishtown Board of Education. Dothard is a retired airline pilot who worked for the Federal Aviation Administration. Nellegar is a social worker who ran unsuccessfully for Matawan Borough Council. Furman is director of information technology for a New York law firm.

All the candidates listed either reducing property taxes, improving the economy or creating jobs among their priorities. (Higgs/Asbury Park Press) 











Weinberg wants to subpoena Port Authority on GWB lane closures


State Sen. Loretta Weinberg plans to introduce a resolution today to give a legislative committee subpoena power over the Port Authority in an effort to find out why access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were closed for several days and snarled traffic in Fort Lee.

This is the second time in a year that lawmakers are trying to compel the bi-state transportation agency to release documents. The Assembly Transportation Committee delivered subpoenas to the authority last October, seeking documentation related to the 2011 toll hikes.

Weinberg, D-Teaneck, wants to give the Senate State Government Committee subpoena power so it can determine why the lanes were blocked.

The Port Authority closed two lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge during four weekdays last month. After The Record questioned agency officials about the closure, they released a statement saying it was to study “traffic safety patterns.” But Patrick Foye, the agency’s executive director, sent an email to Port Authority executives Sept. 13 saying he was unaware of the closure and ordering that the lanes be reopened. (Hayes/State House Bureau) 





Federal workers back to work after 16-day shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — By the thousands, furloughed federal workers began returning to work across the country Thursday after 16 days off the job due to the partial government shutdown.

The Office of Personnel Management announced that workers should return to work on their next regularly scheduled work day, noting that is Thursday for most workers. Nationwide, hundreds of thousands of workers have been furloughed since the shutdown began Oct. 1.

The office encouraged agencies to be flexible for a smooth transition by allowing telework and excused absences in some cases.

“We’re back from the (hashtag)shutdown!” the Smithsonian Institution declared on Twitter, announcing that its 19 museums would reopen Thursday. The National Zoo was set to reopen Friday.

The returning workers’ presence will be felt on the roads and rails in the Washington region, where commutes have been less crowded over the past two weeks. The regional transit agency, Metro, reported a 20 percent drop in ridership when the shutdown began and has said it lost a few hundred thousand dollars each day. (Associated Press) 






State Agency Eases Requirement to Keep CHP Plants Independent of Grid


Independence increases resiliency but drives up costs, possibly discouraging developers from building units.


The state yesterday backed away from a proposal that smaller, but more efficient, power plants be able to operate independently even if the regional power grid goes down and induces widespread blackouts as a condition to win financial incentives to build the units.

In a proposal approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the agency discarded the standalone requirement, saying the additional costs imposed by the condition might discourage the building of combined heat and power plants.

The CHP units are an integral component of the state’s new Energy Master Plan, which recommends building 1,500 megawatts of CHP by 2020, a goal many believe could help cut electricity prices by reducing congestion on the power grid, a problem that spikes energy costs for customers.

Earlier this year, the state allocated tens of millions of dollars in clean energy funds to spur the development of CHP plants. The administration and lawmakers also are looking at other ways to incent the building of those generating units, including having gas utilities finance their construction, which would be repaid over time to the companies and ratepayers,

Since Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey nearly a year ago, the Christie administration has touted developing CHP plants at hospitals, prisons, and wastewater treatment plants as a way to bring more resilience to the power grid, especially during extreme storms. (Johnson/NJSpotlight) 




Wedding Bells Could Ring Soon for Same-Sex Couples in Garden State

State’s highest court poised to rule on judge’s order that state license gay marriages starting Monday


Same-sex marriages could begin in New Jersey as early as Monday, as the state Supreme Court is poised to rule on a lower court’s assertion that further delay would violate the equal-protection rights of gay couples.

Lawyers for Garden State Equality and six gay couples and their children filed papers Tuesday asserting that the state’s highest court should not suspend a Superior Court judge’s ruling that issuance of marriage licenses to same sex couples must begin October 21.

GSE argued that the state has not proven that “irreparable harm” would occur without a stay of Judge Mary Jacobson’s decision last month that New Jersey’s civil union law violates the equal protection clause of the state constitution and had not shown that it is likely to l ultimately win its case.

New Jersey’s acting attorney general argued the exact opposite in papers filed last Friday, the same day that the Supreme Court agreed to bypass the Appellate Division and decide both the state’s appeal of Jacobson’s decision and its motion seeking to stay her order that marriage licenses be issued starting Monday while it considers the matter.

A week ago, Jacobson rejected the state’s request for a stay, paving the way for same-sex marriages to begin next week unless the Supreme Court stops them.

The court has ordered that all briefs be submitted to it by Dec. 3 and set oral arguments in the case for January 6-7.

Once same-sex marriages begin, it will be difficult to go back, the state argued as one reason for the stay.

“The harm would be irremediable,” wrote Deputy Attorney General Jean Reilly for the state. (O’Dea/NJSpotlight) 




Chris Christie at Bellevue Philadelphia November 14th


This time last year, Zack Stalberg was preparing for Election Day madness in Philadelphia as head of political watchdog group Committee of Seventy. And the madness, oh it came. But this year, with a comparatively light lineup on November 5th at Philadelphia’s polling places, Stalberg is mostly busy with preparations for Seventy’s impending visitor: Chris Christie.

The Governor of New Jersey will speak at the Bellevue on November 14th for Seventy’s annual fundraiser, which is known simply as The Annual Breakfast. (Can some branding genius out there please help Seventy find a new name for this thing?) A table will set you back at least $5,000.

“We don’t really do single tickets,” explains Stalberg. “This one event accounts for over half of our annual budget.”

It’s Christie’s second appearance at the breakfast, having been the guest of honor in 2010 during his first year in office. Other speakers have included Vice President Joe Biden, Ed Rendell, the late Arlen Specter, political commentator James Carville, MSNBC personalities Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, and Mayor Michael Nutter, just after winning election way back in 2007. (Fiorlillo) 








 From the Back Room



Fulop versus Sweeney

Two potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates posted similar countywide numbers for Cory Booker tonight – but with very different margins of victory.

Senate President Steve Sweeney’s (D-3) home county of Gloucester unofficially turned out 21,162 votes for Booker or 50%, compared to Lonegan’s 20,815 (49%).(PolitickerNJ Staff/PolitickerNJ) 







Essex Dominance


NEWARK –  Humiliated in the backrooms of party power, Essex County nonetheless will retain Democratic Party ballot box prestige by night’s end.

With 33 percent of machine votes reporting, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is crushing Republican candidate Steve Lonegan, 77.13 (28,878) to 21.63 (8,099) percent in Essex. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ) 






Booker to campaign with Buono this weekend


Cory Booker is slated to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono in the coming days.

Booker, who’s facing off against Republican Steve Lonegan in a U.S. Senate special election tonight, will appear alongside with Buono on Sunday, officials said. The pair will appear at a Jersey City rally. (Arco/PolitickerNJ) 




Lonegan has likely seen his last campaign


Republican candidate Steve Lonegan made an audacious prediction in the final week of the special election for the U.S. Senate.

President Obama will be so shocked by an his improbable victory over Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a popular, Obama-blessed liberal Democrat, he will have no choice but to capitulate to conservative, Tea Party lawmakers’ demands in debt ceiling and government shutdown talks.

“When I win, Obama will fold,” Lonegan said.

But after Booker’s victory Wednesday, the more likely scenario now is that Lonegan will soon be the one folding up the chairs and table in his Metuchen campaign office. (Stile/   Morning Digest: Oct. 17, 2013