Morning Digest: Oct. 18, 2013

Fernandez-Vina cleared in Judiciary for state Supreme Court

TRENTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee cleared the nomination of N.J. Supreme Court nominee Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina at a hearing Thursday relatively devoid of the partisan acrimony of last year’s hearings. The vote was unanimous. (Mooney/PolitickerNJ) 







Christie bear hugs victorious Booker the day after the U.S. Senate Election

NEWARK – It’s a big tent party, even big enought to include Republicans – or Democrats – depending on who’s inside.

In this case it was Gov. Chris Christie, Essex County Executive Joe DiVIncenzo and Senator-elect Cory Booker, all throwing hearty hugs on one another in a blow up tent on a vacant lot, a day after Booker beat Tea Party Republican Steve Lonegan. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ) 







Sarah Palin hints at tea party primaries

Sarah Palin, who supported losing Senate candidate Steve Lonegan in New Jersey and the efforts to defund Obamacare in a government funding bill that led to the shutdown, said the focus after losing both fights should be on 2014.


“Friends, do not be discouraged by the shenanigans of D.C.’s permanent political class today. Be energized. We’re going to shake things up in 2014,” Palin wrote on her Facebook page early Thursday morning. “Rest well tonight, for soon we must focus on important House and Senate races. Let’s start with Kentucky — which happens to be awfully close to South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi — from sea to shining sea we will not give up. We’ve only just begun to fight.”


In each of the states she mentioned, a Republican incumbent senator that has been a target of tea party challengers is up for reelection in 2014. (Kopan/Poltico) 







Is winning enough? Booker ‘psyched’ at margin, but GOP gains confidence

The polling places are closed, the winner is settled and the loser has set his sights on a life after politics.

But questions lingered a day after Cory Booker, the Democratic mayor of Newark, defeated Steve Lonegan, a Republican former mayor of Bogota, by 11 percentage points in Wednesday’s special election for U.S. Senate — questions that are unlikely to be settled for another year.

Bluntly pitching hard-line conservative views that polls showed large numbers of New Jerseyans did not share, Lonegan won more than 44 percent of the vote against a better-known, better-liked candidate with significantly more money in a blue state.

Some Republicans argued that Lonegan disproved the conventional wisdom that New Jersey conservatives must soften their views in general elections, and that a Tea Party-inspired message can succeed even in a blue state during a government shutdown. Democrats said all it proved was that low-turnout special elections can produce aberrations. (Jackson/The Record) 







Pascrell asks Christie to extend aid deadline for Sandy-stricken homes

A complaint by some Sandy-stricken residents, about new mandates to raise their homes, got some Washington sympathy Thursday when Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. pressed Governor Christie to extend deadlines for grants that would help with the rebuilding costs.

In a letter, the Democratic congressman from Paterson found it “unacceptable” that homeowners in flooded areas such as Little Ferry and Moonachie received notices of the elevation requirement just weeks ago, after they had spent much if not all of their insurance payouts on other disaster repairs and missed deadlines for two federal subsidies funneled through the state. That included up to $150,000 from the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation Program.

Pascrell asked Christie to reopen the RREM Program — as well as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, worth up to $30,000 — for those who didn’t know they would need the funding until it was too late. (Patberg/The Record) 









Lawmakers Begin to Shape Battle Plan for Fight Against Opioids and Heroin


Addiction experts recommend wide range of measures to try to reduce number of overdose deaths

New Jersey can take more steps to stem the toll on its residents caused by heroin and prescription opioid drugs, addiction experts told a Senate committee yesterday.

Their recommendations range from expanding what doctors are required to learn about addictions and conducting a public-awareness campaign to providing addiction treatment in jails and using technology to link primary care providers with addiction specialists.

The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee held a hearing on the topic yesterday as the starting point for what committee Chairman Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex) said would be a comprehensive effort to bolster prevention, treatment and recovery from opioid addiction.

The committee’s work is likely to lead to new legislation, since members of both parties – including Gov. Chris Christie – have expressed concern about the problem. (Kitchenman/NJSpotlight) 







NJ Candidates, Political PACs Break the Bank, Breaking Records for Spending

More than $75M fuels campaigns for state Legislature and governor, two ballot questions

So far, the 264 candidates seeking 120 seats in the New Jersey Legislature have raised $27.7 million toward next month’s election, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

But that’s only a small sample of the money being spent to win Senate and Assembly seats that come with a part-time salary of $49,000, not to mention the governor’s seat: (O’Dea/NJSpotlight) 







Special Senate election had record-low turnout

TRENTON — A record-low turnout in New Jersey’s special election for U.S. Senate is creating heat for Gov. Chris Christie for scheduling the vote 20 days before the general election and on a Wednesday rather than a Tuesday, a decision one political expert said “disenfranchised” voters. (Jordan/Asbury Park Press) 








New role and unusual brand of fame raise question of what kind of senator NJ’s Booker will be


NEWARK, N.J. — With his election to the U.S. Senate, Newark Mayor Cory Booker faces the question of how he will translate to Washington his celebrity status, frequent travel and penchant for replying on Twitter to low-level requests from constituents.

Booker, who beat Republican Steve Lonegan in a special election Tuesday, is moving from the top of the executive branch, albeit at a local level, to being one of 100 senators. That means he has to get used to shaping coalitions rather than being the boss, New Jersey’s other senator, Robert Menendez, said in an interview. (Associated Press) 







AG’s office disputes claims made by Buobo’s campaign chairwoman

The state’s Office of the Attorney General suggests a state lawmaker overstated the number of voters who inadvertently sent both their special election and November ballots to their local polling places Wednesday.

The AG’s office issued a statement this afternoon indicating they were made aware of “only a few instances” of where voters casting a mail-in ballot during the special Senate election this week inadvertently also included their November ballot in the same envelope.

The statement comes after Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, speaking as Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sen. Barbara Buono’s campaign chairman, told reporters “a couple of thousands” of voters inadvertently mailed both ballots to their polling place. (Arco/PolitickerNJ) 







N.J. Rept. Andrews says budget deal should include roll back of sequester cuts


WASHINGTON — A day after Congress passed legislation to fund the government and increase the nation’s debt limit, New Jersey Democratic Rep. Rob Andrews called on lawmakers to do more.

Andrews, who is a member of the House Democratic leadership team, said Thursday that he’s worried the bill merely pushes off the fight to another day. He called for lawmakers to roll back the deep cuts put in place by sequestration and pass a bill to extend the nation’s borrowing authority for two years.

“Let’s look for a truly longer term solution this time,” he said. “This would eliminate the drama of any government shutdown for at least two years.”

The bill passed by Congress late Wednesday night would fund the government at current levels until Jan. 15 and provide borrowing authority until Feb. 7. (Herman/Gannett Washington Bureau) 







1 N.J. town issues marriage licenses to gay couples

TRENTON — At least one New Jersey town began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples Thursday to comply with a court order to allow same-sex marriages starting Monday.

Asbury Park’s action touched off conflicting legal advice for towns.

News reports say that the state Health Department sent emails to municipal clerks Thursday telling them not to issue any licenses until after the state Supreme Court rules on whether the nuptials will be recognized next week.

Meanwhile, the gay rights legal group Lambda Legal said towns should issue licenses so couples can start getting married at 12:01 a.m. Monday. Under state law, there’s a 72-hour waiting period for marriage licenses. (Associated Press) 







Steve Lonegan Brushes off Wife’s Hand During Concession Speech


During last night’s concession speech, Republican candidate Steve Lonegan made a gesture that have many raising their eyebrows today.


Looks like a certain candidate wasn’t too happy after losing to Cory Booker last night. Cameras caught Steve Lonegan brushing off his wife’s hand in a very abrupt fashion during last night’s concession speech. The footage has been making it’s way around the internet today and you can see the footage below. (Deminski/NJ101.5) 






Christie Zaps Bill to Ban Low-Watt Laser Pointers in N.J.

Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill to bar sales of low-power lasers in New Jersey because it would strip businesspeople of a modern alternative to the wooden pointer.


“Presumably, the purpose of this bill is to deter the dangerous misuse of laser pointers,” Christie said yesterday in a statement accompanying his action. Current state and federal laws already punish such misconduct by making it a criminal act to aim such a device at any vehicle, including an airplane, with penalties of as much as 10 years in prison.


The legislation, S-418, would have prohibited the sale of pointers with more than 1 milliwatt in output power. Current federal regulations allow retail sales of the devices with as much as 5 milliwatts of power.

The New Jersey bill “goes well beyond the federal standards,” said Christie, a Republican. He said laser pointers that would be affected are “currently for sale at office supply stores as well as by the largest online retailers” and that the measure would thus interfere with lawful commerce in the state. (Dopp/Bloomberg) 





Christie holds 26-pt. lead in Rutgers-Eagleton poll

NEW BRUNSWICK – Gov. Chris Christie commands a 26-point lead over Democrat state Sen. Barbara Buono among likely voters, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll released Friday.

Christie now leads Buono, 59 percent to 33 percent – a six-point improvement since last month.

However, likely voters consistently disapprove of Christie’s performance on the state’s taxes and the economy. With the exception of same-sex marriage, however, they still think the governor would do a better job than his challenger on most other issues.

“Barbara Buono is not making any new gains, even among those who should gravitate to her,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “Chris Christie simply seems to be a force of nature, all but unstoppable in this particular election.” (PolitickerNJ Staff/PolitickerNJ) 










Competing ads show two views of Buono’s education platform


wo television ads with competing takes on state Sen. Barbara Buono’s education policies have hit the New York and Philadelphia media markets and statewide cable as the gubernatorial race enters its final weeks.

Garden State Forward, a tax-exempt issues advocacy group run by the New Jersey Education Association, is running a 30-second ad featuring a teacher Heidi Brown, who offers her support of Buono over Governor Christie.

The New Jersey Education Association has endorsed Buono over Republican Governor Christie, who had publicly battled with the union.

“Buono knows good public schools provide good opportunity for all New Jersey kids,” Brown said. “That’s why she fought against cuts to education, she’ll work to provide full day kindergarten and make college more affordable. And Buono will fight the corporate takeover of our schools so our tax dollars go to education, not corporate profit.”

Governor Christie’s campaign responded with a new ad attacking Buono’s education policies, which began airing today. It’s Christie’s eighth television ad in the general election cycle and the third criticizing Buono. (Hayes/The Record)




 From the Back Room



Gov. O’Malley to campaign with Buono Friday

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will campaign with Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Barbara Buono Friday.

The campaign announced O’Malley will campaign with Buono and the state lawmaker’s pick for lieutenant governor at two events in Trenton. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)









Monmouth Dems see silver lining in election results


Despite Senate-Elect Cory Booker having trailed his Republican challenger in yesterday’s special election in Monmouth County by about 10 points, Monmouth Democrats are finding some reason for rejoice.

According to unofficial election results, Booker trailed Steve Lonegan in the GOP-leaning county by nearly 10,000 votes. Lonegan ultimately took 54 percent of the county’s votes compared to Booker’s 45 percent. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)









Bramnick hires Bramnick


New Jersey-based law firm Bramnick Rodriguez recently acquired another Bramnick.

The Jersey trial lawyers firm hired Brent Bramnick, the eldest son of Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick. Brent Bramnick is expected to concentrate on personal injury, workers’ compensation and criminal law. (PolitickerNJ Staff/PolitickerNJ)












Lonegan’s loss is still a Republican win


I DO NOT come to praise or bury Steve Lonegan. The Republican U.S. Senate candidate lost to Democrat Cory Booker in Wednesday’s special election. He lost by 11 points. He did well.

The Lonegan campaign, despite the 11th-hour spectacle of his chief strategist exploding like fireworks at a gay pride parade, was near flawless. Lonegan knows who he is and wasn’t shy about promoting his brand of conservatism. At the end of the day, Lonegan was not electable because he is incapable of editing everything he says.

Many New Jerseyans want smaller government, believe America should be more focused on domestic policies than on foreign conflicts and are convinced Washington is handing out too many goodies to individuals who have grown fat on entitlement programs. Lonegan lost some voters when he talked about dead bodies floating in the Passaic River or made inappropriate remarks relating to Booker’s sexuality. Lonegan was at times mean and glib about social issues that matter deeply to segments of the electorate. But by and large, Lonegan’s everyman persona played well. with Chris Christie’s image of a middle-class Jersey guy. If Lonegan had donned a fleece, he might have lost by fewer points. (Doblin/The Record) 





There should be no waiting period of equality

Recently, Gov. Chris Christie appealed the decision by a Mercer County Superior Court judge to allow same-sex marriages to begin in New Jersey on Oct. 21, and followed it up with an emergent application to the court to stop any same-sex marriage ceremonies until the state Supreme Court reviews the case.

Essentially, the governor wants to give gay couples a “waiting period” on whether the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment applies to them.

In the simplest of terms, there should be no waiting period on equal protection for anyone under our laws.  And yet, the governor’s stance against marriage equality has forced same-sex couples to endure just that. (Assemblyman Reed Gusciora/PolitickerNJ)    Morning Digest: Oct. 18, 2013