Winners and Losers: The Last 90 Days Begin

Who’s up and who’s down this week in NJ politics.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie, the leader of Donald Trump's White House transition team, says he stands with Trump's campaign chair following Ukraine allegations.


The Monmouth County Democratic Committee

Democrats in one of New Jersey’s most competitive counties saw a huge turnout for a fundraiser in Belmar. The committee netted two surprise Assembly seats last year, and looks well-positioned to make inroads in county government despite decades of Republican dominance on the freeholder board. Chairman Vin Gopal’s slate could see even more surprise victories in a better-attended presidential year — a feat that would lay the groundwork for successfully challenging statewide Republicans next year.

Cory Booker

The U.S. senator gave his blessing to Gopal’s ticket, bringing the full brunt of his newfound star power to that fundraiser. Though the crowd was less than enthusiastic when he touted Clinton’s “historic” nomination during the Democratic National Convention at which he distinguished himself as one of the least-heckled speakers during the first night’s discontent over the primary, he drew big applause with his call to advance Democratic candidates at the local level.

Bill O’Dea

The Hudson County freeholder is eyeing the mayoralty in Jersey City as incumbent Steve Flop weighs his own bid to succeed Governor Chris Christie. O’Dea held a successful early fundraiser this week, walking away with $200,000 in contributions. That campaign cash and goodwill from supporters of the longtime incumbent will come in handy when he faces Assemblyman Raj Mukherji in the primary. Union City Mayor Brian P. Stack, an infrequent presence at such events, gave his tacit vote of confidence by attending.

Hillary Clinton

The Democratic presidential nominee was up this week in national polls, edging out her Republican opponent Donald Trump in crucial swing states like Virginia and Florida. That news came as Trump took heat from the New York Times for his deep discount on bankruptcy debt in Atlantic City. Republican operatives are now proposing that the national GOP shift focus from Trump’s campaign to Senate races in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and North Carolina so that the party doesn’t lose its majority.

Steve Fulop

The Mayor of Jersey City collected the endorsement of incumbent Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp, overseer of a key Union County city.


Atlantic City

The down but not out casino town got some rare good news this week as ratings agency Moody’s declared a bridge loan to the city from the state a “credit positive.” Although Atlantic City’s credit is still anchored to a junk-status bond rating, the agency predicted that the loan will allow the city to continue paying its debts in the time between now and local officials’ October deadline for presenting the state with a long-term financial recovery plan to prevent a takeover.


Donald Trump

The Republican presidential nominee took several hits this week on top of declining poll numbers. Front page stories in the Times pointed to campaign chair Paul Manafort’s financial ties to the pro-Russian ruling party in Ukraine, and to Christie’s administration cutting a deal by which the real estate magnate payed pennies on the dollar for his bankruptcy debt in Atlantic City. Trump also shuttered his New Jersey campaign office, despite his earlier predictions that the state would be in play in the run-up to the general election.

Chris Christie

The governor, who serves as the leader of Trump’s White House transition team, also had a bad week. Christie recalled his own time on the front page during the Bridgegate scandal during a State House press conference where he said he stands with Manafort. Messages from Christine Renna, a former intergovernmental affairs aide who texted campaign staffer Peter Sheridan that Christie “flat out lied” about senior staff’s involvement in the lane closures, also surfaced.

Republicans on Lumberton’s Township Council

Republican Township Council incumbent Mike Dinneen, who would have gone up for reelection this year, resigned following a complaint against him with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. Dinneen and four other Lumberton Republicans face accusations that they illegally pooled their campaign cash, transferring funds between their respective committees in excess of state candidate-to-candidate contribution limits. Treasurer Mike Mansdoerfer took responsibility, characterizing the violations as an oversight.

Michael Dachisen

The mayor of Rockaway faced scrutiny for his hiring of a new director of public works for the town. Councilman Jeremy Jedynak brought attention to the fact that Dachisen awarded the job and its $126,965 annual salary without conducting interviews, and without adequate notice for the Township Council. Jedynak alleges members of the council received information on the appointee’s resume and qualifications just a day in advance. Dachisen did not respond to this publication’s request for comment.

John Wisniewski

The Assemblyman and former New Jersey chairman of Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign drew the ire of one local Democratic chairman. Mark Razzoli of the Old Bridge Democratic Organization chewed out Wisniewski in an email obtained by Observer’s Max Pizarro, accusing the gubernatorial hopeful of trying to rally his supporters against his own reelection campaign. The incident marks another case of the Assemblyman drawing opposition before his campaign has even gotten started, coming on the heels of progressive outcry against his endorsement of U.S. Representative Donald Norcross earlier this year. Winners and Losers: The Last 90 Days Begin