Gov. Chris Christie’s announcement that he favors a ballot question for the placement of North Jersey casinos came as arguably the biggest political news this week in New Jersey.
The Governor’s remarks on 101.5 FM:
“I have absolutely no problem with that question going on the ballot right away, because the competition is only going to grow in New York in particular. So if we could plant our flag firmly in the ground in the northern part of the state I think that would make the project even more successful. So even though I have no role in the process because of the constitutional amendment the governor doesn’t play a role in it, but I certainly would be publicly supportive of getting this question done as quickly as we could so that we can proceed to expanding if that’s the will of the people, they need to decide whether or not to amend the constitution to expand gaming beyond Atlantic City. I think that given the competition around us, it would be the right thing to do. Again, as long as there is a provision to have some of the revenue used to help Atlantic City and the workers down there who have lost their jobs because of the downsizing, whether that’s allowing them to have jobs, you know, right of first refusal of the jobs in the northern casinos if they want to move or something that would help them advance their career given that many of them have lost their jobs in Atlantic City due to the expected downsizing of the casino industry there given the competition that’s all around us.”
From a campaigns and elections standpoint, at the very least the issue would significantly impact ground zero in LD2, the district that contains Atlantic City, where rival incumbents Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-2) and Assemblyman Chris Brown (R-2) want to win reelection.
Both lawmakers oppose a plan that would enable casinos outside of Atlantic City. How a ballot question would play in their contest and in LD1 to the South, which is also intimately connected to Atlantic City, and in that other competitive district – LD38 in Bergen County – will no doubt become a large part of the analysis as we head toward the November general election.
Leading lawmakers are no examining the efficacy of a ballot question this year.
One person who favors the ballot question now, and who enthusiastically welcomed Christie’s comments, was Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-28), chairman of the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee.
“We need good news,” Caputo told PolitickerNJ. “The fact is that the collapse in Atlantic City has resulted in layoffs and a regional depression. We now need $100 million in funding for Atlantic City. A casino in the north could help generate the revenue for that funding. I’ve been fighting for this for five or six years. Now it’s a question of getting it passed. This is a good year to do it. Of course, the decision is up to leadership. But I think the time is now to take our best shot.”
If the question goes on the ballot this November, lawmakers have to get it done by August 3rd.
“I’m absolutely thrilled that this is coming to a head,” Caputo said. “The loss of [the] Revel [Casino] had a tremendous negative impact. The only way they [Atlantic City] can survive is from some other source. The transition would be rough, and to be clear, none of us should stand in the way of people making a decision about where they want gaming in the state.”
We’ll get there. Can’t wait. For now…
NJTV, New Jersey’s public television network, this week opened its new 10,000 square-foot television studio at 2 Gateway Center, connected to Newark Penn Station. The ribbon-cutting ceremony turned out a star-studded cast of New Jersey’s own version of Hollywood: thick-set men in trench coats arriving in black SUV vehicles with black-tinted windows.
Last Friday, the former Councilman at Large for the City of Trenton and Chairman of the NJ Dominican American Elected and Appointed Officials Caucus celebrated with over 350 guests at the caucus’ third annual gala. Invited guests and speakers included State Democratic Chairman John Currie, state Senator Joe Vitale (D-19), and keynote speaker New York Senator Adriano Espaillat.
Caucus members include over 50 representatives through the state including recently elected West New York Commissioner Margarita Guzman and the first Dominican American elected President to the Newark Board of Education Ariagna Perello.
The classy 39th District Assemblywoman emerged successfully this week from brain surgery in New York City, where doctors removed a brain aneurysm.
We will find out on Election Day, Tuesday, June 2nd.
There are no losers heading into Decision Day, just grim-faced warriors trudging toward euphoria – or, in the inimitable words of Lou Manzo – that feeling of just having been hit with a ton of bricks.
Below find just some of the key rivalries to watch come Tuesday.
We will put together a special Post Election Day Winners and Losers edition next Wednesday.
Of course, PolitickerNJ reporters will be in the field all weekend and through Tuesday to bring you all your up-to-the-minute Primary coverage.
In the meantime:
Joe Pennacchio versus Tony Bucco.
Already squabbling behind the scenes, the two Republican lawmakers have lined up publicly behind opposing freeholder slates. The Scapicchio/Krickus Team wins, Bucco wins. The Cesaro Team wins, Pennacchio wins. Tom Mulligan wins, and Tom Mulligan wins. May the best man (and woman) win.
Chris Russell versus King Penna
The lethal Russell is on the Krickus payroll in Morris. Penna is with Cesaro. King took a jab at Russell today because of the longtime GOP operative’s work as a campaign consultant for Fruqan Mouzon, a Democrat Associate of State Senator Steve Sweeney, in a race to head the New Jersey State Bar Association. “Interesting news,” remarked Penna. “What about the fact that the New Jersey Bar Association reviews and comments on Supreme Court nominees before they are confirmed? Are Krickus, Scapicchio, and Smith OK with Russell helping a well-connected Democrat lead the Supreme Court confirmation process?” Perhaps alluding to Penna’s insistence on staying put during a debate two weeks ago, Russell shot back, “Unlike King Penna, I recognize these campaigns aren’t about me. They are about the candidates running for office. I suppose when you can’t muster any legitimate explanation as to why the so-called Republicans you work for, like John Cesaro, Angelo Tedesco and Christine Myers, are being bankrolled by powerful Democrats, liberal special interests and big union bosses, you write forgettable releases like this one to kill time before Election Day.”
William Carlos Williams versus Bayonne
Ahh, Rutherford. Thank you for injecting into this world of baseball bats getting jammed down people’s throats a remembrance of one of our state’s noblest sons. But now we must respectfully take leave of you. Somewhere a bomb is going off in Bayonne. Pat Desmond is calling us back to Hudson County for Election Day coverage!
Christine Dansereau versus Cecilia Dallas Ricks
The sitting mayor affiliated with Assemblyman Jamel Holley is trying fend off a return to City Hall by former Councilwoman Ricks, who went for the nuclear option by hiring Pablo Fonseca. Having just won a contest in West New York, Fonseca left the war paint on for Ricks. Shoulder to shoulder with Holley stands Secaucus-proud Mike Makarski of Vision Media, an operative to be reckoned with in any fight.
Monteiro versus Quijano
Leonard Lance versus David Larsen
The presence of King Penna on the Cesaro Team in the Morris County Freeholder contest prompted the 7th District Congressman to dash off a pair of checks to Scapicchio and Krickus. Penna works for Larsen, who’s challenged Lance three times as a Tea Party iron man, and appears fresh for a fourth run come 2016.
Parsippany/East Hanover versus Western Morris