Morning Digest: April 21, 2014

The Political Passion of Paterson: Goow campaigns in the 4th, Pascrell to vote for Sayegh, Torres backers party at Makao

PATERSON – That most pagan rite of NJ politics rages on the day before Easter here, on the day before the death of Paterson boxing legend Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, on eight square miles packed with 52 ethnic groups all seeking representation three and a half weeks until Election Day.

In that 1.5-mile concentration known locally as “the hood,” the mood is grim among seniors crammed in high rises afraid of going outside because of gunplay that has left people dead and bullet holes in aluminum siding on the nearby scraggly homes of their neighbors.

A 95-year old woman shows a picture she keeps of former NBA player Tim Thomas, a treasure to her, because the Paterson native once visited the building, but that was a long time ago, she says.

“The workforce system is a mess and nihilism among Paterson youth is the highest I’ve seen,” says a woman, speaking on condition of anonymity, who rose out of this city of 150,000, the state’s third largest, and made her own way into the world beyond its borders.

In a mayoral election season, one man becomes the natural focal point of blame. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

The Political Passion of Paterson: Goow campaigns in the 4th, Pascrell to vote for Sayegh, Torres backers party at Makao | Politicker NJ

Watson Coleman’s committee team includes Buono, Mercer allies, Green, Silva and Randal Pinkett

The Bonnie Watson Coleman for Congress campaign today announced their campaign committee in CD12.

“I am proud to have the support of such a diverse and respected assortment of individuals as we move forward with our campaign,” said Watson Coleman.  “These folks not only represent some of the best and brightest in the 12th Congressional district, they are also people that I know are as committed as I am to the priorities of President Obama and Democrats in Congress.  They have all contributed towards the tremendous momentum our campaign has already achieved in this race and I am looking forward to their continued support and guidance as our campaign progresses.  I know that each of these members will continue to help us as fundraisers, surrogates and strategists as we move forward to victory on June 3rd.”

The list of members is below.  Member biographies and backgrounds can be found at the following link on-line:  (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ)

Watson Coleman’s committee team includes Buono, Mercer allies, Green, Silva and Randal Pinkett | Politicker NJ

Newark mayor’s race: Jersey City Mayor Fulop, a Baraka backer, endorses Ramos, Jeffries slate member

NEWARK – To the casual observer of Newark politics, the scene at Don Pepe’s restaurant on Thursday night was confusing, unless one considers a force that is at times more powerful than politics: friendship.

North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos, Jr. hosted a fundraising event where more than 200 people waited to hear him speak. Ramos, an erstwhile mayoral candidate, dropped his bid to be Newark’s political CEO in February. Shortly thereafter, he joined the council slate of mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries.

But before Ramos addressed the crowd, one supporter stepped forth and stepped up to the microphone: Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.

“I probably share the sentiment like many of you in this room that I would have hoped that [Ramos] would be on the [mayoral] ballot here because I really believe in my heart that he was the best candidate for mayor,” said Fulop, who sent political shockwaves throughout New Jersey when he endorsed Jeffries’ rival, South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka in February, less than a week after Ramos left the mayoral race.

In the heat of the contentious Newark mayoral race, it seems a Fulop-Ramos alliance would be presently impossible. But shedding some light on the two politicians’ long-standing relationship makes it seem almost probable. (Bonamo/PolitickerNJ)

Newark mayor’s race: Jersey City Mayor Fulop, a Baraka backer, endorses Ramos, Jeffries slate member | Politicker NJ

Bergen County candidates for June 3 local primary elections

Here is a listing of candidates for the upcoming primary election on June 3. County freeholder and municipal council races are for two seats, unless otherwise noted. (D) denotes Democrat, (R) denotes Republican





Elizabeth M. White — (R)

No Democratic candidates

Borough Council

Jacqueline McSwiggan — (R)

Amy Wilczynski — (R)

No Democratic candidates

– See more at:   





Online poker is North Jersey’s latest tourism draw

On any given Sunday, Mike Azzaro — or mikeycasino, as he’s known online — will travel from his home in Yonkers, N.Y., to a Ramsey hotel room for the night.

The reason is not glamorous, but it is profitable: Azzaro, 27, is a professional poker player.

Of the online players who have signed up to play in New Jersey at, 15 percent don’t live in the state. You must be within New Jersey’s borders to play, but residency isn’t required. That so many out-of-state players are traveling to New Jersey — call it “poker tourism” — is an encouraging sign for the fledgling industry, which so far has been generating less than $2 million per month in tax revenue for the state budget.  (Brennan/The Record)  

Chris Christie’s comments spark debate over realty transfer fees in NJ

FRANKLIN — Several months ago, Scott Packwood, a retired state trooper, started looking for a smaller, less expensive place for his family to live.

The eldest of two daughters was planning to move out after graduating from college, and the family’s 10-room house in the Somerset section of Franklin Township was suddenly larger than he and his wife needed. Property taxes, Packwood said, had also grown to more than $13,000 a year.

“We said enough was enough,” the 52-year-old explained.

The house sold quickly. But when Packwood was about to close on the sale last month, his attorney told him something that shocked him: He had to pay $5,435 for a realty transfer fee imposed by the state.

“It’s painfully ridiculous,” said Packwood, who has since moved to North Brunswick. “I mean, $5,400?”

So when Gov. Chris Christie held a town hall in Somerset last Tuesday, Packwood reserved a spot in the audience, raised his hand, and asked the governor why the fee exists.

“It’s a grab by the government to take more money for no good reason,” Christie said, blaming Democrats for raising the fee years ago. “A sales tax? There’s a rhyme or reason to it. An income tax? There’s a rhyme or reason to it. A corporate business tax? There’s a rhyme or reason to it. A realty transfer fee? From my perspective, it makes no sense.” (Johnson/Star-Ledger)  




Chris Christie’s NJ budget proposal slashes funding for cancer research

TRENTON — New Jersey’s leading cancer research organization faces the loss of about a third of its funding in Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed budget, provoking criticism from those concerned by the cut of $10 million in state subsidies.

Doctors and lawmakers alike say the reduction in funds for the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey continues the Christie administration’s history of shortchanging state financing for homegrown research.

The line item in the budget for the institute, the state’s only nationally recognized comprehensive cancer center, is scheduled to drop from $28 million to $18 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

In addition, for the third time in four years, a $1 million appropriation for the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research — which had been a mainstay in the state budget for three decades — is missing from the state Health Department’s $1.8 billion proposed budget.

In a state with the seventh-highest cancer rate in the nation, members of the Assembly Budget Committee pressed state Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd in a hearing this week to explain why the administration was skimping on funds for research.

“This doesn’t seem to make financial sense,” Assemblyman Gary Schaer (D-Passaic), chairman of the Budget Committee, said at Monday’s hearing. “We’re trying to establish New Jersey’s presence in the field … (of research and development) and attracting good jobs coming to New Jersey.” (Livio/Star-Ledger)  





From the Back Room

Sweeney goes on offense

Days after Jersey City Mayor (and 2017 gubernatorial hopeful) Steve Fulop declared his support and fundraising devotion to South Jersey Congressional candidate Bill Hughes, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) see-sawed onto Fulop’s turf with his own “I can find pockets of love in every part of this state including JC” statement.

At an event earlier today in Fulop’s city, Sweeney, who also is eyeballing the governor’s mansion, received an award for his support for women from the Women’s Advisory Group (WAG) headed up by state Sen. Sandra Cunningham (D-31).

There were 400 people in attendance and the general topic was “Power of Women Plus One.”

Sweeney goes on offense | Politicker NJ

Bonnie and the Lonny Factor

Rolled out this week as the finance chair of Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman’s (D-15) 12th District Congressional Campaign, Trenton attorney Lionel “Lonnie” Kaplan arrives with an unusual asterisk alongside his public endorsement record for someone burnished as a Democratic Primary weapon.

Kaplan backed old pal and arch conservative Rick Santorum for president.

According to New Jersey Jewish News, “Rick Santorum, running under the slogan ‘the True Conservative,’ may seem an odd match with a Trenton attorney often referred to as a ‘prominent New Jersey Democrat.’

“But Lionel ‘Lonny’ Kaplan is urging fellow Jews to look past Santorum’s views on abortion, contraception, and religion and consider the Republican candidate’s views on Israel and, especially, his proposals for fixing a troubled economy.

“Kaplan, a former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has donated the allowable maximum to Santorum’s campaign — $2,500 — and expects to play a large role in the Pennsylvania Republican’s fund-raising efforts.

“It is the third time that Kaplan, who defines himself as a pro-choice liberal, has crossed party lines to back the Catholic conservative who has been his friend since 2000.

“They met when Kaplan was AIPAC president and Santorum was seeking Jewish support for reelection to his United States Senate seat.”

“Rick was very good on Israel, but the people in the pro-Israel world who were helping him were having some trouble with his campaign for reelection,” said Kaplan. “They came to me and said, ‘Lonny, can you help?’ And I did,” he told NJ Jewish News in a Feb 23 telephone interview. “When he ran in 2006 he asked me to get involved again, and I did.”

Watson Coleman is running in the Democratic Primary against state Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14).

Bonnie and the Lonny Factor | Politicker NJ Morning Digest: April 21, 2014