PolitickerNJ News Digest: August 3rd

It’s the start of a new week in New Jersey politics, where Chris Christie’s dark horse status among local voters is loudly demonstrated at a high-profile event, but he’s still bristling for a fight with teachers.
Booker still thinks Christie’s ‘One of the most talented political people out there’
US Senator Cory Booker called NJ Governor Chris Christie “the most underestimated person in the field” of republicans vying to be their party’s next Presidential candidate. It’s not atypical for Booker to gush praise upon the Governor. But Booker’s recent characterization seems especially obsequious in light of Christie’s sinking numbers here in New Jersey. And out in Iowa.
(Jay Lassiter, NJpoliticker.com)
This week in presidential polls with Patrick Murray
Will the polls put the “wrong” candidate into the first Republican debate next week? It depends on how you calculate the averages.
(Max Pizarro, NJpoliticker.com)
Reforms now could mean stronger parties later
Without legislative reforms, New Jersey’s once strong political party system will be relegated to an after-thought.
(Jeff Brindle, NJpoliticker.com)
Where’s Kim? LG Guadagno, Iowa native, absent on campaign trail
With Gov. Christie campaigning in Iowa recently, it’s a good time to reflect on the changing dynamic between the governor and his lieutenant, one of the Hawkeye State’s most famous daughters. Kimberly Ann McFadden — now known as Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno — was born and raised in Waterloo, Iowa. In the earliest days of the Christie administration, according to two people on the political side of his operation, it was openly discussed how Guadagno “would make a great Iowa campaign surrogate for the Governor,” in the words of one operative, who insisted on anonymity.
(Kevin B. Sanders, NJpoliticker.com)
LD1 Republicans part company with Christie on casino referendum question
Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi (R-1) and his running mate for the 2015 assembly race Cumberland County Freeholder Jim Sauro hosted a town hall meeting on Thursday night on their home turf in the first legislative district.
(JT Aregood, NJpoliticker.com)
Ray Lesniak: I would be a fighter for NJ as governor
Sen. Ray Lesniak says he will run for governor if he has the necessary support. He says he would be a fighter for the people of New Jersey.
Christie booed twice at the Haskell
It was one long happy celebration at Monmouth Park for the great American Pharoah’s latest victory. At least, that is, until Gov. Chris Christie stepped into the Winner’s Circle to present the trophy.
And then, the record crowd of 60,983 booed.
(Steve Politi, NJ.com)
Chris Christie: Teachers’ union deserves punch in the face
Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said Sunday the national teachers union deserved a punch in the face.
Repeating a line of attack that he has frequently used in New Jersey, the governor told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that the national teachers union — presumably, the American Federation of Teachers — wasn’t interested in teaching America’s children.
Christie: I’ll pardon legal gun owners arrested in N.J.
Campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, Gov. Chris Christie said he’ll likely pardon several out-of-staters legally permitted to carry their firearms in their home states who have been recently arrested in New Jersey under the Garden State’s tough gun laws.
(Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com)
Trump could have spoiler effect on 2016 race, poll shows
Could Donald Trump be the Ross Perot of 2016? Or maybe the Ralph Nader?
(Brent Johnson, NJ.com)
Chris Christie’s religion: 7 facts about his Catholic faith
Gov. Chris Christie is one of six Catholics among the 17 candidates running for the Republican nomination in the crowded 2016 presidential race.
Unlike some of his competitors, who have made their faith a central theme in their campaigns, Christie has been low-key about his religion on the campaign trail.
(Kelly Heyboer, NJ.com)
Christie blasts Clinton and Trump immigration proposals
Gov. Chris Christie took aim recently and blasted both the Democratic and Republican presidential frontrunners over their immigration proposals.
(Claude Brodesser-Akner, NJ.com)
Poll shows more N.J. voters favor legalizing marijuana
As Gov. Chris Christie declares that legal marijuana would disappear if he were elected president, a new poll shows voters in his own state are becoming more open to the idea of legalizing pot.
(Brent Johnson, NJ.com)
Christie’s big-money backers revealed
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is a fan of the New York Mets. And Fred Wilpon, the team’s majority owner, is apparently a fan of Christie.
(Bob Jordan, Asbury Park Press)
How Christie’s ARC decision left us in the hole
The small corner of North Bergen overlooking the Meadowlands is quiet now. It permeates with the same silence that suddenly descended on it almost five years ago when Governor Christie abruptly shut down work on what supposed to be the entrance to a new trans-Hudson River tunnel to improve commuting from New Jersey to Manhattan.
(Mike Kelly, The Record)
High-profile losses raise questions for Bergen County Prosecutor Molinelli
From a stinging rebuke by the state’s highest court to Friday’s reversal of the official-misconduct conviction of former Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa, it’s been a bad run of late for John Molinelli, Bergen County’s longtime prosecutor.
(Jean Rimbach, The Record)
Christie: ‘Confident’ he’ll be on the GOP primary debate stage
Governor Christie, who has been behind in recent polls, said he’s confident he’ll make the cut for the Fox News debate in Cleveland Thursday night.
(Melissa Hayes, The Record)
Vineland officials need to swallow pride, start communicating
The first thing kids say when you stop them from fighting is that the other guy started it first. Same with adults, but after a certain point, how it started matters less than how it will end.
Christie on Trump: ‘Anybody can do well for a month’
Chris Christie says it’s too soon to see whether Donald Trump’s rise to the top of national Republican polls will last until votes are actually cast beginning in six months.
(Eric Bradner, CNN)
PolitickerNJ News Digest: August 3rd