PolitickerNJ News Digest: Jan. 29th

Wisniewski Chief Tim O'Donovan.
Wisniewski Chief Tim O’Donovan.

Good morning. It’s Friday in New Jersey, and we explore the future of Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential hopes and the race for the Democratic nomination.

Quote of the Day: “I think Bernie Sanders will make Hillary Clinton a better president, a better candidate, and if he were to be our candidate that would be good for the country as well.” – Senator Ray Lesniak on the Democratic presidential race.

Will Christie Drop Out After New Hampshire?
The clock is ticking for presidential candidates to sway voters as Iowa and New Hampshire loom just a few days away. Thursday will mark the last GOP presidential debate where the candidates (minus Donald Trump, who has opted out) can take their messages to the national stage before Iowa.
Alyana Alfaro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Legislative Scorecard: January 28th
Thursday’s Senate committee hearings saw notable advances for bills on potential local ethics boards across the state and public health benefit double-dipping as the Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee voted unanimously to release six bills. The double-dipping bill, to prevent public employees from unduly collecting on health benefit waivers, was brought to the committee by Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-37).
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

Lesniak: Hillary 2016 ‘No Longer Inevitable’
Following reports that Hillary Clinton’s lead over Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) is shrinking in Iowa, the progressive upstart is getting closer and closer to besting the establishment favorite. Sanders has shot ahead by 17 points since last month, though Clinton still leads with 47 percent of likely Iowa Democratic caucusgoers to Sanders’ 42.
JT Aregood, PolitickerNJ Read more

Suffolk New Hampshire Poll: Christie Bunched up Way Behind Trump
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump (27 percent) holds a commanding lead over his opponents in the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary contest, according to a Suffolk University poll of likely Republican primary voters released this afternoon.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Senate Committee Passes Weinberg’s ‘Smart Gun’ Bill
The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee this morning released S-816, which requires retailers to sell personalized handguns, also known as “smart guns,” in the same manner as other handguns.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Will the Tallest Building in NJ Cast Too Big a Shadow Over Other Guv Hopefuls?
Home to seven of the state’s ten tallest buildings, Jersey City will claim the tallest come 2018. That’s a date that doesn’t perhaps contain the same resonance for Mayor Steven M. Fulop as 2017, a gubernatorial election year and presumably one in which the mayor hopes to compete.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Helmed by Wisniewski, Bernie Sanders for NJ Launches in Sayreville
The late Ray Durkin liked to deadpan that when you see a parade, jump in front, and so it was that the prince of Parlin leapt jauntily into the role of head trapeze artist above this raucous Bernie Sanders circus, somersaulting impeccably into New Jersey’s 2016 public consciousness as undisputed leader of a ragtag statewide progressive movement.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

The Day that Bill Pascrell Debated Bernie Sanders
Fierce Hillary Clinton backer U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) doesn’t dislike Bernie Sanders, the scrappy Brooklyn-born 74-year old candidate for president who is five years Pacrell’s junior.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Paterson Backroom Brawl Ultimately Results in Pols Hitting Flood Map Issue
In a backroom political shoving match this week, Ward 6 Councilman Andre Sayegh demonstrated why it helps to be the incumbent – and why it certainly doesn’t hurt to have an above average alliance with U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9).
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Pascrell Wants Answers from Christie on Botched HUD Application
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9) told reporters here yesterday that the Christie Administration has not adequately explained what went wrong with New Jersey’s application for disaster relief aid from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

POP Backs Bernie Sanders for Prez
The People’s Organization for Progress (POP), a grassroots political operation led by veteran activist Larry Hamm, has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Guadagno Trumpets Fresh Schedule of Business Round Tables
Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) had his listening tour with public officials in key counties, Mayor Steven Fulop had his insistence on an alternative casinos bill, Phil Murphy has his television ad blitz, Ray Lesniak his pet progressive causes, John Wisniewski Bernie Sanders, Mike Doherty Donald Trump, Jack Ciattarelli his expressed irritation with Gov. Chris Christie.
Max Pizarro, PolitickerNJ Read more

Mayor Felix Roque Seeks Help for Cuban Refugees
Perhaps the best illustration of the disconnect between Barak Obama’s Cuba policy and the Cuban people can be seen in the current sad condition of the Cuban Refugees stranded in Costa Rica.
Donald Scarinci, PolitickerNJ Read more

GOP rivals open debate by mocking Trump for skipping
Donald Trump’s Republican rivals mocked the billionaire businessman for skipping Thursday night’s debate, then moved quickly to capitalize on a rare opportunity to step out of his shadow.
Associated Press Read more

The NJBIZ Power 100: The state’s most influential people in business
What’s the definition of power? It’s the question we get most often at NJBIZ, when it comes time for the Power 100.
Unfortunately, there’s not an easy explanation.
The one we often give is this: “If you called the governor, how quickly would he call you back? If at all.”
NJBIZ Staff, Read more

2011 Christie road repair funding move now center of lawsuit
Lawyers warned five years ago that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to take $1.8 billion from a bistate port agency to fix state roads might cause legal problems.
Associated Press, Read more

Should the state investigate questionable behavior by local government officials?
A Senate committee Thursday voted 5-0 to dissolve local and county ethics boards and turn the responsibility of investigating the questionable behavior of any government official to the State Ethic Commission.
Susan K. Livio, NJ.com Read more

Newark official fires back at councilman who called for his job
The city’s top snow removal coordinator is firing back at East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador, saying the councilman’s recent call for his job is motivated by a petty personal vendetta.
Dan Ivers, NJ.com Read more

The Donald trumps Christie as being the most searched GOP candidate in N.J.
Love him or hate him, people are interested in Donald Trump.
He’s been polling well and people are searching for him — a lot.
Jonathan D. Salant, NJ.com Read more

N.J. lawmakers: Corporate tax loophole robs $200M from state
State Senate Democrats made a renewed push Thursday for a bill to close corporate tax loopholes in New Jersey that died in the last legislative session.
Samantha Marcus, NJ.com Read more

PARCC helped close ‘honesty gap’ in N.J., report says
New Jersey’s new standardized tests might not be popular, but they do produce more honest results than the prior exam, according to a new study by education reform groups.
Adam Clark, NJ.com Read more

Christie says candidates should release medical history, but status of his records unclear
Americans should know everything they can about the health of candidates running for president, Governor Christie said in a radio interview this week. Then he told the host of the show that he released his own medical records when he announced his candidacy last summer.
Dustin Racioppi, The Record Read more

State Sen. Cardinale targets Paterson’s contract with its police chief
A state senator from Bergen County on Thursday condemned Paterson’s new contract with its police chief as an abuse of taxpayers’ money, saying it highlighted the need for state reform of pension and public employment laws.
Joe Malinconico, The Record Read more

N.J. Senate President Sweeney: Make temporary housing help permanent
Senate President Stephen Sweeney Thursday proposed permanently funding a $15.5 million project that helped chronically ill and disabled residents with temporary housing assistance until the program expired in July.
John C. Ensslin, The Record Read more

Hamilton mayor undergoing testing for Lyme disease
Hamilton Mayor Kelly Yaede was tested for Lyme disease Thursday and will be out of the office for a few days, her office confirmed.
Cristina Rojas, NJ.com Read more PolitickerNJ News Digest: Jan. 29th