FAIR LAWN – On a stop at a Bergen County hardware store, state Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) hit the Democrats with a figurative two-by-four, attacking the recent push for paid sick-leave legislation in New Jersey municipalities.
“The radical Democrats are now competing for the most radical ideas,” said Bramnick on Friday, standing next to Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan at Kuiken Brothers Company in downtown Fair Lawn. “They have put on the table a paid sick-leave bill that is now starting to develop in municipalities around the state. In New Jersey, the last thing we need is more regulation on business.
“We know this is a political issue between the left wing of the Democratic Party getting ready for a post-Chris Christie era,” Bramnick added. “If we’re going to have this era, despite the fact that Chris Christie has three and a half years left as governor, we’re going to be in big trouble.”
Bramnick’s trip to Bergen, New Jersey’s most populous county, comes at a time when because of Gov. Christie’s increasing national profile as a potential Republican presidential candidate, the 2017 Garden State gubernatorial sweepstakes has begun sooner than usual.
Bramnick is reportedly looking to take the GOP nominee slot, while three Democrats, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, former U.S. ambassador to Germany and ex-Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy and state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) are testing the campaign waters on their side of the aisle.
Fulop has been a major proponent of paid sick leave legislation in New Jersey. Jersey City became the first New Jersey municipality to mandate that most private businesses provide paid sick leave for its workers in September 2013, with the law taking effect in January. Newark also recently adopted an earned sick leave ordinance, with other New Jersey municipalities now considering similar legislation. State Assembly Speaker Vinny Prieto (D-32), a Fulop ally, announced earlier this month that the Assembly will begin considering earned sick leave legislation in September, beginning the push to require earned sick leave for workers in the state.
“The assemblyman and I get along personally, but he is way off here,” Fulop told PolitickerNJ is response to Bramnick’s comments. “Jersey City was the first in the state to enact earned sick leave over a year ago and at the same time over the last year according to the federal Bureau of Labor, Jersey City has outpaced the state in lowering our unemployment rate. Clearly, the facts don’t support the rhetoric the assemblyman has said against earned sick leave. This is a policy that helps both working families and job retention of employees at good employers. It is a win-win and Jersey City is proof.”
Bramnick said he would “need a crystal ball” to figure out his own political future when pressed about his plans. But Bramnick cast a jaundiced eye at the current jockeying among some potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates.
“In the left wing of the Democratic Party, they are now trying to find out who hates Chris Christie more. They fight against each other to be more anti-Chris Christie. But when you’re anti-Christie, you’re anti-business,” Bramnick said. “Everything Gov. Christie has done is try to open the door to business. So if you’re going to have a primary for the next three years, you’re going to get anti-business legislation, and that’s what you see. Steve Fulop and Steve Sweeney – I don’t care if they run against each other. Just leave business alone while you’re doing it.”
Donovan, a Republican and a Christie ally, is locked in a re-election fight with Democratic Bergen County Freeholder Jim Tedesco. Bramnick noted his support for Donovan, and the incumbent Bergen County Executive said she wouldn’t mind seeing him visit her county, seen as the bellwether in statewide elections, more in the future.
“[Bramnick] has been coming here as long as I’ve been in politics, and as long as he’s been in politics,” Donovan told PolitickerNJ. “He wouldn’t be coming in as an interloper. But anybody is welcome.”