TRENTON – Fraught with adjectives like “decent” and “hardworking,” the New Jersey Senate today honored the departure of outgoing U.S. Rep.-elect Donald Norcross (D-1), who was sworn in to Congress last month after winning his CD1 election against Republican opponent Gary Cobb.
“I can’t think of anyone that deserves to be a congressman more than Donald Norcross,” said state Sen. James Beach (D-6), who began a round of backslapping and congratulatory remarks that spanned the aisle.
Praise came from Republicans like Senate Minority Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-21), Joe Kryllios (R-13), Diane Allen (R-7), as well as members of his own caucus, like state Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-29), who called the moment “bittersweet.”
“We thank you for your honesty, integrity, and your willingness to always think outside of the box,” she said of the former electrician.
“The bottom line is this — it’s about the people when it comes to Donald Norcross,” said state Sen. Fred Madden (D-4).
After winning both the remainder of retiring U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews’ term as well as a full term starting in 2015, Norcross entered Congress sooner than other freshman congressmen and women elected on Nov. 4th in New Jersey. He’s already gotten to work, too, casting his first vote (he was one of 31 House Democrats to cross party lines and vote in favor of a bill to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline, saying it would create jobs) and finding a strong political post (he was one of two freshman representatives named to the House Democrats’ Steering and Policy Committee).
State Sen. Bob Smith (D-17) lauded Norcross’ rapid political ascent, from electrician to assemblyman to senator — and now congressman.
“Now that is a lightspeed career. If I was U.S. Senator Cory Booker or Bob Menendez, I’d keep my eye behind me,” Smith said.
Of course, Norcross is also the younger brother of South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross III — something state Sen. and former governor Dick Codey (D-27) pointed out, saying the fact didn’t keep the two from working together.
“Despite the obvious obstacles between me and the senator, there’s never been an unkind word between us,” Codey said.
Later, Norcross, who replaced Camden Mayor Dana Redd in the fifth legislative district’s senate seat in 2010, returned the compliment, noting this might be the first instance of a “governor speaking nicely of a Norcross.”
“The only thing that might go further is to have an iron worker as the senate president — or an iron worker as the governor of New Jersey,” Norcross added, referring to a comment made earlier about having an electrician in Congress and glancing at Senate President and close ally Steve Sweeney (D-3).