Morning Digest: Nov. 6, 2013

Chris Christie Coasts to 2nd Term as Governor of New Jersey

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey won re-election by a crushing margin on Tuesday, a victory that vaulted him to the front ranks of Republican presidential contenders and made him his party’s foremost proponent of pragmatism over ideology.


Mr. Christie declared that his decisive win should be a lesson for the nation’s broken political system and his feuding party: In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by over 700,000, Mr. Christie won a majority of the votes of women and Hispanics and made impressive inroads among younger voters and blacks — groups that Republicans nationally have struggled to attract.

The governor prevailed despite holding positions contrary to those of many New Jersey voters on several key issues, including same-sex marriage, abortion rights and the minimum wage, and despite an economic recovery that has trailed the rest of the country. (Zernike and Martin/New York Times) 












Christie: Sought second term to ‘finish the job’

ASBURY PARK – Declaring he didn’t seek a second term in office to “do small things,” Gov. Chris Christie vowed to build on his record while in office and expand on his successes.

The governor took to the microphone before hundreds of cheering supporters in the Asbury Park Convention Hall after sailing to victory in the blue state against his Democratic opponent.

“I sought a second term to finish the job,” Christie declared. “Now watch me do it.” (Arco/PolitickerNJ)








Greenstein wins in LD14

State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14) has defeated GOP challenger Pete Inverso in LD 14.

Inverso won his hometown of Hamilton by roughly 100 votes, and he needed 5,000 to offset Greenstein gains elsewhere, sources said. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)






Gordon: LD 38 victor says he’s “still standing” despite Christie “carpetbombing”

HASBROUCK HEIGHTS – State Sen. Bob Gordon, in the midst of celebrating a close win over GOP challenger Fernando Alonso, stopped to speak about how he also held off Alonso’s most prominent backer: Gov. Chris Christie. 

“The governor launched personal attacks against us in District 38. They spent over a million dollars on television ads. They practically carpetbombed us with attack mailers. And we’re still standing, as far as we’re concerned,” Gordon told  

Christie won by more than 46,000 votes in Bergen, part of his decisive 60 to 38 percent margin of victory over Democratic challenger Barbara Buono. (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)










Chris Christie’s next big move toward 2016


Chris Christie will cap his landslide reelection in New Jersey by taking the reins of the Republican Governors Association, a platform that promises to enhance his stature as a leader of the Republican Party and 2016 frontrunner but also threatens to tether him more firmly to the tattered GOP brand.


In assuming the chairmanship of the association later this month – the highest-profile position in the party that Christie has taken on – Christie will be able to travel the country and tout the successes of a rare collection of bright spots in the GOP the past three years – its governors.


And that will mean, implicitly or perhaps even explicitly, Christie trumpeting his own legislative and electoral success as a Republican leader in a Democratic state. If he can do it, part of the governor’s message will undoubtedly be, so can the party at large. (Haberman/Politico)








Chris Christie to President Obama on ACA: Don’t be cute, don’t ‘lawyer it’

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has some friendly advice for President Barack Obama on his Affordable Care Act woes: Don’t be cute and don’t be a lawyer.


“Here’s what my suggestion would be to him. Don’t be so cute,” Christie told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “[W]hen you make a mistake, admit it. And, listen, if it was a mistake in 2009, if he was mistaken in 2009, 2010 on his understanding of how the law would operate, then just admit it to people.”


Christie was responding to news of the approximately 3.5 million consumers have received notices from their insurance companies in recent weeks cancelling their current plans, which has called into question the president’s promise that people can keep health care plans that they like.


“I think people would give any leader in that circumstance a lot of credit for just, you know, owning up to it instead of now trying to — like, don’t lawyer it,” Christie said. “People don’t like lawyers. I’m a lawyer.” (DelReal/Politico)






Democrats Stand Fast in Senate, Lose Two Seats in Lower Chamber

Concerns about the length of Christie’s coattails prove unfounded, but a number of races qualify as ‘nail-biters’ and will probably kick off recounts

Click on a district to see the latest results for NJ legislative contests. Democratic districts are in blue, Republicans are in red and those with split representation are in pink. The darker the color, the larger the margin of victory. All results are in real time and all are unofficial until certified by state election officials later this month.

The Christie tidal wave, as one Democratic leader called it, did not wash away the Democrats’ legislative majorities.

As of midnight, it appeared the party lost only two seats in the Assembly — one in the 1st district in South Jersey and the other in the 38th in the North — and none in the Senate. That’s a far cry from the 14-seat gain the Republicans made in 1985, when Gov. Thomas H. Kean won re-election in what remains the largest landslide in modern state history. (O’Dea/NJSpotlight) 






New Jersey Voters Give State’s Lower-Wage Workers a Big Boost

Minimum hourly pay goes from $8.25 to $9.25, with hikes tied to cost of living, as constitutional amendment wins approval


New Jersey voters yesterday approved an increase to the minimum wage and gave their blessing to allowing veterans organizations to pay their operating costs with money raised by hosting games of chance.

By a vote of 61 to 39, voters passed a controversial constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage to $8.25 per hour and mandate annual increases. The ballot measure was expected to pass, though not by the margins of the veterans’ initiative, which passed 81 percent to 19 percent, according to vote totals with about 99 percent of voting districts reporting at 1:00 a.m. (Nurin/NJSpotlight) 




Reelected Christie thanks N.J. for making him ‘luckiest guy’

Republican Governor Christie easily won reelection Tuesday, defeating Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono with the largest margin in almost 25 years and setting the stage for a possible run at the White House in 2016.


Christie was leading Buono by a margin of 60 percent to 38 percent with 98 percent of the vote counted.

His victory, apparent just after polls closed at 8 p.m., would be the most lopsided since 1989, when Democratic Rep. Jim Florio beat fellow Rep. Jim Courter, a Republican, by 24 points. (Hayes, Reitmeyer, and Fallon/The Record) 










Meadowlands mall deal has its critics


A decision by a state board to approve a record-setting tax break for developers of Meadowlands American Dream doesn’t guarantee that the shopping mall next to MetLife Stadium will be open any time soon.

The $390-million deal comes with strings attached, with the state winning some oversight of the project formerly known as Xanadu, but a termination agreement, if American Dream’s doors don’t open, doesn’t kick in until 2019.

The leader of a liberal think tank says the money the state will be giving up in the deal is needed elsewhere. (State House Bureau/Daily Record) 






GOP claims upset in A.C. mayor race; Hoboken mayor fends off challenge

ATLANTIC CITY — Republican Don Guardian won an upset victory in Atlantic City’s mayoral race Tuesday over longtime incumbent Democrat Lorenzo Langford, and immediately vowed to repair relations between the city and newly re-elected Gov. Chris Christie, with whom Langford had long fought.

“I’m going to open the doors of communication with our governor and create an atmosphere where we can attract new jobs and investment to Atlantic City,” he told The Associated Press.

Guardian is head of the city’s special improvement district, an area overseen by a state-run authority under Christie’s five-year plan to turn around Atlantic City’s struggling fortunes.

“I have a wonderful relationship with the state, and I see them as our partner,” he said.

With all precincts reporting, Guardian was ahead by 162 votes out of more than 6,100 cast.

His campaign said Tuesday night that of the approximately 850 absentee ballots submitted in the election, 650 were collected and submitted by Guardian’s campaign, although they hadn’t yet been opened and counted.

In his concession speech, Langford said, “I don’t want anyone to feel bad. We ran a good race,” The Press of Atlantic City reported.

Democrats outnumber Republicans in Atlantic City by a 9-to-1 margin. (Parry/Associated Press) 






Peter Barnes wins Buono’s N.J. Senate seat in Middlesex County


TRENTON — Barbara Buono may have lost the race for governor, but her Legislative district remains under Democratic control.

Voters elected state Assemblyman Peter Barnes (D-Middlesex) to fill the state Senate seat Buono vacated to run for governor. Barnes had faced a tough and well-financed challenge by East Brunswick Mayor David Stahl, who had been a Democrat but switched parties to run for the seat.

State Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan, who chairs the lower house’s education committee, also held on to his seat. East Brunswick Councilwoman Nancy Pinkin, a Democrat, has won the Assembly seat that had been occupied by Barnes. They beat Republicans Robert Bengivenga and Lisa Goldhamer. (Friedman/Star-Ledger) 






Barbara Buono slams Democratic party bosses after loss to Chris Christie

TRENTON — Barbara Buono, the Democratic candidate for governor, just lost to Republican Gov. Chris Christie. But it was her own party she targeted in her concession speech.

Saying New Jersey represents one of “the last vestiges of old boy machine politics,” Buono tonight said that Democratic political bosses helped win the election for Christie and decried “the onslaught of betrayal from our own political party.”

“We rose above the political system that too often requires surrendering one’s values. A system where backroom deals fueled with greed and self interest are just the order of business,” the state senator from Middlesex County said. “The Democratic political bosses some elected some not made a deal with this governor despite him representing almost everything they’re against. They didn’t do it for the state. They did it to help themselves politically and financially. But we did it our way and I’m proud of that.”

Buono did not name the bosses, but she has been critical of South Jersey power broker George Norcross and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo. DiVincenzo publicly backed Christie. (Friedman/Star-Ledger) 





Christie, De Blasio Win as McAuliffe Prevails in Virginia


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie bolstered his standing as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2016 by cruising to re-election, while Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the Virginia governor’s race after tying his opponent to the Tea Party movement.


In New York, Bill de Blasio won resoundingly yesterday to become the first Democrat to take the mayor’s office in the most populous U.S. city since 1993. In his campaign, he called for higher taxes on the wealthiest residents to fight inequality.


“The challenges we face have been decades in the making, and the problems we set out to address will not be solved overnight,” de Blasio, 52, told supporters celebrating inside a Brooklyn armory. “But make no mistake: the people of this city have chosen a progressive path, and tonight, we set out on it together as one city.”


As U.S. residents chose their leaders in off-year elections, voters in six states also decided 31 statewide ballot issues, including imposing a tax of as much as 25 percent on retail sales of marijuana in Colorado and approving as many as seven casinos in New York, according to the Associated Press.


The gubernatorial votes in New Jersey and Virginia were seen as significant for a Republican Party debating its future after the 16-day partial closing of the U.S. government last month exposed a rift between its populist Tea Party and business wings. In a U.S. House of Representatives special-election primary runoff in Alabama, a self-described Tea Party Republican was beaten by U.S. Chamber of Commerce-backed Bradley Byrne. (Niquette/Bloomberg) 




Democrats Seek Support for Bills to Offset Obamacare Woes

Two Democratic senators from states that lean Republican are rallying support for proposals that would delay penalties or let people keep existing health plans after flaws hobbled the federal online exchanges.


Senate Democratic leaders aren’t saying whether they will allow votes on the proposals by Mary Landrieu of Louisiana on existing policies or Joe Manchin of West Virginia to delay fines for a year. The efforts underscore Democrats’ anxiety over the failures of the online exchanges


“We’ll have to see: There are hundreds of bills introduced every week and we have to sort through those that have the opportunity to be voted on,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, told reporters today when asked whether he’d allow a vote on Landrieu’s bill.


Since opening Oct. 1, the online website serving 36 states has been plagued by delays, error messages and hang-ups that prevented customers from completing applications. The flaws unleashed a fresh round of criticism from Republican opponents. (Hunter/Bloomberg) 









 From the Back Room



Change in leadership could be coming to New jersey’s Senate minority office

According to a Republican source, Senate President Steve Sweeney told a state senator a Gov. Chris Christie agenda in the Senate wouldn’t have much success if Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. keeps his leadership position.

Several Senate Republicans are seeking a change in minority leadership and the front office has already been approached about Kean being removed, according to sources.

The comments to PolitickerNJ come as Sweeney told supporters at his victory rally tonight that Kean “has to explain to his people” why he didn’t win seats in the upper chamber.

“He has to explain to his 16 [GOP senators] why he didn’t win,” Sweeney said. “All I know is Tom Kean said he had five seats.” (Arco/PolitickerNJ)








Priebus celebrates Christie victory in N.J.


Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is in Asbury Park to celebrate Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election.

The national chairman was one of a handful of GOP officials to give a speech to Christie supports ahead of the governor’s victory speech. Priebus and others spoke in a room where a slew of dignitaries gathered in the Asbury Park Convention Hall. (Arco/PolitickerNJ)












Christie’s strategy of wooing key Democrats pays off big


A day after routing Jon Corzine in 2009, Republican Governor-elect Chris Christie placed a call to the Democratic mayor of Woodbridge, John McCormac, inviting him to join his transition team.

McCormac, a state treasurer under Gov. James E. McGreevey who continues to be a fixture in the state Democratic Party, was happy to sign on.

It proved to be a wise move for McCormac and his town. Three years later, Christie returned the favor, using his political muscle to help approve a 700-megawatt power plant for Woodbridge, a project expected to generate jobs and revenue for decades.

“After elections, it doesn’t matter what party” people are in, McCormac said. “We all have to work together for the benefit of our citizens.”

The “I’ll help you, you help me” alliance with McCormac, made within hours of Christie’s victory four years ago, illustrates an overlooked tactic that propelled his win Tuesday over Democrat Barbara Buono, a longtime state senator from Middlesex County.

Christie’s bold leadership during Superstorm Sandy, the shrewd marketing of his Jersey tough guy persona and several important legislative accomplishments are indeed important factors in the strong support for his reelection. But while the public was seeing all of that, Christie discreetly and methodically courted Democrats with every lever of power at his disposal. By the end, many of those Democrats would supply the manpower, money or simply the photo ops for his campaign. (Stile/The Record) 










Other states allow early in-person voting.  Why won’t N.J.?


What if you didn’t have to show up with all the other harried voters at the polls today because you already cast your ballot — at your own convenience?

That’s what our elections would be like, had Gov. Chris Christie not vetoed early voting this spring.

The governor said the proposal was “hasty, counterproductive and less reliable.” Which, in reality, much better describes the process of cramming our elections into a single Tuesday.

Remember what happened last year? Hurricane Sandy upended Election Day and chaos ensued. County clerks were swamped by an unanticipated flood of electronic ballot applications.

If we’d had early voting, those displaced people could have easily shown up at an election office to cast a ballot, without the hassle and confusion of electronic forms — and the risk of error. We already allow absentee voting. Why not early in-person voting, too?

Christie argues it’s a matter of cost, that taxpayers should not have to foot the extra bill for early voting. That’s rich, coming from a governor who wasted $12 million on a totally superfluous special election for U.S. Senate. In any case, the additional cost of early voting could actually be quite minimal, according to the nonpartisan Early Voting Information Center at Reed College in Oregon. (Star-Ledger Editorial Board)  

Morning Digest: Nov. 6, 2013