Morning Digest: Nov. 8, 2013

Eagleton Poll: Voters still question Christie’s performance on key issues

As voters headed to the polls Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election bid was buoyed by some of his highest favorability ratings – 65 percent – since February 2013, according to the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Only 27 percent of registered voters held an unfavorable impression of the governor. Similarly, 68 percent approved of the incumbent’s job performance and 59 percent said his work deserved at least a “B” grade.

Christie’s new ratings were nearly as high as they were right after Sandy, when 67 percent of respondents had a favorable impression and 61 percent awarded him at least a B. As he concludes his first term, Christie’s favorability rating is more than 20 points higher than it was just weeks after his inauguration in January 2010.

Despite Christie’s overall consistently high ratings, voters continued to question his performance on important issues. Near the campaign’s end, voters remained less than happy with his performance on taxes (42 percent) and the economy (45 percent). Voters were more taken with Christie’s Sandy recovery effort (80 percent approving), which kept his overall ratings high throughout the year. (PolitickerNJ)






Senate GOP caucus protects Kean with 10-6 vote

TRENTON – While Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) stormed the state preparing for a gubernatorial run, and Gov. Chris Christie traveled to Union City for his bipartisan end-zone dance as prep work for a presidential bid, state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) frantically worked the phones.

Kean was not focused on the next political iteration of himself but on protecting what he has right now – the job he has held for the last six years.

He was calling nearly every Republican senator in his caucus and asking for his or her support for another term as leader.

He got 11 out of 16 names on a letter that was issued Wednesday. (Pizarro and Arco/PolitickerNJ)






Prosecutor: Garden State Plaza gunman committed suicide inside mall, body found

The body of a 20-year-old Teaneck man who walked into the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus on Monday night and fired six shots, setting off a panicked frenzy and a six-hour manhunt, was found in a storage area inside the shopping center early Tuesday morning with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head, authorities said.

John L. Molinelli, the Bergen County Prosecutor, identified the shooter as Richard Shoop, 20, at a predawn press conference. He said authorities recovered a note from the house Shoop shared with his parents on Emerson Avenue in Teaneck. Molinelli did not describe its contents but said he would not classify it as a suicide note.

Molinelli said Shoop, dressed head-to-toe in black and wearing a black helmet, entered the mall about ten minutes before it was due to close at 9:30 and fired six rounds from a Sig Sauer rifle that had been modified to resemble an AK-47-style assault rifle. The rounds struck an escalator and an elevator, but Molinelli said Shoop did not appear to be firing at anyone. (Koloff, Green, and Norman/The Record) 






Obama, Christie to speak at same D.C. event

President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie won’t be sharing a stage, but they will both be speaking at the same event in Washington later this month.

The president is speak on Nov. 19 at the annual meeting of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, the paper said Thursday. He will deliver a short speech and take questions from a senior Journal editor at the event, which is in Washington.

Christie is also scheduled to speak at the meeting, which takes place on Nov. 18 and 19. The audience includes more than 100 chief executives from around the world. (Epstein/Politico) 






Chris Christie to tour Sunday shows

 New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will appear on four of the five Sunday shows this coming weekend, POLITICO has confirmed.

The tour — not quite a “full Ginsburg,” as he is not scheduled to appear on CNN — comes on the heels of Christie’s landslide victory in the New Jersey gubernatorial race and amid intense debate about his prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

Christie will appear on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” ABC’s “This Week,” CBS’s “Face The Nation” and Fox News’s “Fox News Sunday.” He is not scheduled to appear on CNN’s “State of the Union,” though he did give an exclusive election-day interview to CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday. (Byers and Kopan/Politico) 




Advocates Say It’s Time for State to Mandate and Expand Paid Sick Leave

Jersey City passes sick-leave ordinance, business groups question need for any statute

Paying employees when they’re out sick has been standard practice at many companies for decades, but state legislators are eyeing a bill that would expand the benefit to a wider range of workers.

Following the passage of a municipal paid sick-leave statute in Jersey City, advocates believe that momentum is building for statewide changes. Assembly Speaker-elect Vincent Prieto (D-Bergen and Hudson) mentioned the issue in his first press conference after being chosen to lead the Assembly starting next year, saying that he wants to see the issue addressed.

Advocates point to potential health benefits that would accrue when sick employees stay at home, rather than coming in to work and spreading their germs. A bill that’s been introduced in both houses of the Legislature A-4125/S-2866] would give all employees earned sick leave based on the number of days they have worked. It’s opposed by some in the business community, who question whether there is evidence of a problem in New Jersey.

The bill would enable employees to accrue one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours of work. Companies with fewer than 10 workers would have to provide a minimum of 40 hours of paid sick leave each year, while those with more than 10 would have to provide a minimum of 72 hours. (Kithcenman/NJSpotlight) 





Big win fuels Christie frenzy

From the cover of the forthcoming Time magazine to a Sunday talk-show lineup that seems to be made up of Christie, Christie and more Christie, the governor’s post-election moment is turning into a full-blown national MOMENT.

If you didn’t catch the governor on “The Michael J. Fox Show” on Thursday, you can catch him on “Fox News Sunday,” or “Face the Nation” on CBS, or “Meet the Press” on NBC, or “This Week” on ABC this weekend.

The governor made a strong point while in Union City on Wednesday, population 66,455, that his focus was firmly on New Jersey and he bid a national corps of reporters adieu when they headed back across the Hudson River after his appearance. But now he seems to be following them. (Jackson/The Record)   




N.J. students again rank near top on ‘nation report card’

New Jersey remains near the top of performance on the test known as the “nation’s report card,” and ranks No. 2 in eighth-grade math and reading after Massachusetts, according to data released Thursday.

This year, 49 percent of New Jersey eighth-graders scored as proficient in math, including 16 percent deemed to be advanced. In reading, at least 47 percent scored as proficient, including 8 percent hitting the advanced level.

Looking at it another way, roughly half of New Jersey students failed to demonstrate solid performance of the skills expected of them at eighth-grade. New Jersey ranks seventh among states in fourth-grade reading and math.

These figures come from the federal study known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which administers tests every two years across the country to enable comparisons over time and across state lines.

New Jersey teachers often cite the state’s consistently high ranking to show the quality of their work with students, especially in countering Governor Christie’s charges that poor cities have too many failing schools. Christie has specified that many districts are successful but chronically troubled schools require aggressive state interventions. (Brody/The Record) 





Buono cast herself as party outsider as strategic move

TRENTON — It was one of the strangest parts of this year’s campaign for governor: The Democratic nominee, again and again, railing against Democratic Party bosses she said had cozied up to the Republican governor, calling it “the Boardwalk Empire that is New Jersey politics.”

The attack stretched into Barbara Buono’s concession speech after being trounced by Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday. “I took one for the team,” she said. “The only problem: I realized too late, there was no team.”

But the strategy of a Democrat attacking fellow Democrats was pushed by out-of-state consultants connected to the team that helped elect President Obama — and bitterly opposed by Buono’s New Jersey advisers, according to three people familiar with the campaign’s planning. (Hutchins/Star-Ledger) 






Bill to create task force to targer illegal telemarketers advances N.J. Legislature

TRENTON — The state Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee today advanced legislation (S1985) requiring the state Division of Consumer Affairs to establish a telemarketing fraud investigation unit to go after illegal callers. (Baxter/Star-Ledger) 





Rand Paul Rails Against Chris Christie’s ‘Offensive’ Appearances in Hurricane Sandy Ads

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) — both possible 2016 Republican presidential contenders — may be at odds again, the day after Christie celebrated his reelection.

During a Senate hearing Wednesday on the federal response to Hurricane Sandy, Paul voiced his disproval of the way some have politicized television ads meant to garner support for recovery fund campaigns.

Though Paul did not address Christie by name, he railed against funding campaigns in New Jersey that heavily featured political candidates, saying the ads give “a little bit of a black eye” to recovery efforts. The October 2012 storm killed more than 148 people and caused $68 billion in property damage.

“Some of these ads, people who are running for office put their mug all over the ads while they’re in the middle of a political campaign,” Paul said. “In New Jersey, $25 million was spent on ads that included somebody running for political office.” (Alman/Huffington Post) 






Obama Gets Behind Democrats’ $10.10 Minimum Wage Proposal


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is throwing his support behind congressional Democrats’ proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 and peg it to inflation, more than a dollar higher than the $9 proposal he made in his State of the Union address in February.

A White House official confirmed to HuffPost Thursday that the administration backs the legislation introduced earlier this year by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.). The Hill reported Thursday that Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said the White House was willing to get onboard with the measure. (Jamieson/Huffington Post) 





Senatoe Oks gay rights bill banning discrimination 

WASHINGTON — The Senate approved legislation outlawing workplace discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, demonstrating the nation’s quickly evolving attitude toward gay rights nearly two decades after Congress rejected same-sex marriage.

Fifty-four members of the Democratic majority and 10 Republicans voted Thursday for the first major gay rights bill since Congress repealed the ban on gays in the military three years ago. The vote in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act was 64-32.

Two opponents of a similar measure 17 years ago, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, the presidential nominee in 2008, and Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, backed the measure this time.

“We are about to make history in this chamber,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine and a chief sponsor of the bill, said shortly before the vote. (Associated Press) 





Chris Christie’s short cottails: He wins big, but not GOP


TRENTON — Chris Christie’s election coattails weren’t long enough to allow him to discard the infamous veto pen he’s used to block or rewrite dozens of bills from Democrats the last four years.

The Republican governor’s landslide victory this week for a second four-year term was the only good news for state Republicans on election night. Democrats held their majorities in the Senate and Assembly, mostly pummeling the GOP in the races for 120 state Legislature seats also on the ballot.

Christie said he “campaigned hard” for down-ballot party candidates but said outside spending by Democratic groups and a gerrymandered legislative map that protects incumbents could not be overcome. (Jordan/Asbury Park Press) 





Time cover: Chris Christie ‘The Elephant in the Room’

It didn’t take long to begin testing Chris Christie’s pledge that presidential ambitions will not distract from his second term as New Jersey’s governor.

Following Christie’s landslide re-election victory Tuesday, Time magazine is out with Christie on the cover and a package of stories evaluating the 51-year-old Republican’s chances in a 2016 White House run. The edition is titled “The Elephant In The Room,’’ double entendre references to the Republican Party mascot elephant and to Christie’s weight.

The cover has a silhouette of Christie from a photo taken in the Port Monmouth section of Middletown on Oct. 14. (Jordan/Daily News) 




 From the Back Room



Diner Conversation: The Kean Win  

The Democratic Party insider’s voice sounded in the silverware clanking confines of a Central Jersey diner.

The insider couldn’t believe what he had just read, namely the victory Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) scored this afternoon over state Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-40), an inner sanctum ally of Gov. Chris Christie’s.

“He’s a lame duck,” the insider said, assessing the governor. “Can you imagine something like that happening two years ago? No way.” (PolitickerNJ) 




Allen enters governor’s office; so does Addiego 

Sen. Diane Allen (R-7) just went into the governor’s office.

Gov. Chris Christie is exerting pressure on state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) to reconsider his decision to stay in leadership after Tuesday’s election, sources say.

Allen is one of 11 GOP caucus members who signed their name in support of Kean’s return to the chair of power, but sources say she could change her mind if Christie persuades her that the party needs to move in another direction.

Sen. Dawn Marie Addiego (PolitickerNJ)  







Booker gets prime office space, Belmar Republicans go after Christie and more

Getting into the U.S. Senate at an unusual time has its perks.

After Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was sworn in on Thursday, he didn’t get the usual rookie hazing: the worst office space available. Instead, the former Newark mayor nabbed Office 141 in the Hart building, a spot well above his station as a freshman.

The office had been occupied by a very senior senator, Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), who served for more than two decades and retired in January. Then Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) took it over. Lautenberg died in June, and after his staff cleared out, interim Sen. Jeff Chiesa settled in. Now, after Booker won a special election to fill out the remainder of Lautenberg’s term, it passes to him.

“There is a significant amount of space for the new office. It’s obviously nice to be able to have that space,” Booker spokesman Kevin Griffis told The Auditor.

But Booker shouldn’t get used to such fancy surroundings. He’ll have the office only until January 2015, when Lautenberg’s term expires. If Booker is re-elected to his own full term next year, he’ll have to move to a more cramped office and let a more senior senator take over.

“We’ll move to an office that is commensurate with seniority,” Griffis said. “They’re going to be more modest digs.” (Star-Ledger Editorial)  

Morning Digest: Nov. 8, 2013