Weekly Roundup: Week of Oct. 14

TRENTON – A win is a win is a win.  Even if it’s not by the gazillion-point spread that some pundits wanted it to be.

Newark Mayor and U.S. Sen.-elect Cory Booker beat former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan on Wednesday for the seat left vacant when Frank Lautenberg died earlier this year.

It was a 10-point win, but some of Booker’s supporters were sweating a bit this week: Lonegan kept landing punches, he chose a few key issues and zeroed in on them relentlessly, and did not give an inch.

On top of that the off-year and off-day election scheduling produced a predictably low, low, low turnout that had some Booker folks worried that staunch Tea Partiers might pull off the upset.

But by the end of the night, Booker – as expected – had captured the Senate seat.

The question now is what kind of opponent Booker will face when he runs for the full term.

If the Republicans select a candidate not so far to the right, with deeper pockets, and a message that is more palatable to blue Jersey, what might happen?

That’s for later.  For this week, Booker going to Congress is one of the big stories.


The state Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, will not prevent gay weddings from taking place starting on Monday.

The court will hear arguments early next year in the matter, but ruled today that a lower court’s decision to allow gay marriage can proceed.

The court today brushed aside the state’s argument that the democratic process should be allowed to play out, and sided with activists who said gay couples were being denied rights.


Over a year ago, two state Supreme Court nominees were grilled by Senate Democrats, then discarded.

This week, another nominee was questioned pretty thoroughly, but after a two-hour hearing that held little of the taut emotions of 2012’s hearings, the 13-member Judiciary Committee unanimously advanced the nomination of Camden Judge Faustino Fernandez-Vina for the state’s high court.

One  of the reasons senators had little ammo to fire at Fernandez-Vina may have been that unlike some other types of nominees, he had not compiled a lengthy list of decisions.

That made it harder to draw conclusions about his judicial philosophy. Sens. Nicholas Scutari and Ray Lesniak repeatedly tried to draw Fernandez-Vina out of his “It would be inappropriate to comment on that’’ comfort zone, but having already approved him once for Superior Court, it seemed that his ascent to the Supreme Court was inevitable.

It wasn’t mentioned during the hearing, but it hung in the air: The awareness that two other nominees have not received hearings 10 months after their nominations were announced.


The routine of bill signings and rejections returned this week.

Among the bills getting the governor’s approval were ones establishing bills of rights for seniors in community care centers and a pilot program for locally shared services.

The bill for the elderly will make it clear what rights and responsibilities are involved at centers.  The law will mandate better transparency and accountability to protect residents.

As for the shared services law, the main idea of that effort is to prevent tenured local officials such as clerks or treasurers from impeding agreements between towns.

Among the bills getting zapped was one that would have restricted sales of laser pointers to devices emitting no more than 1 milliwatt of power.

Gov. Chris Christie pointed out that federal rules allow sales of devices that emit up to 5 milliwatts.





  Weekly Roundup: Week of Oct. 14