The New Jersey Political Dish You’re Starving For

Our Columnist Jay Lassiter.

Our Columnist Jay Lassiter. Jay Lassiter

Hope everyone’s enjoying our sleek new digs at PolitickerNJ. We may be a little prettier, but we’ve still got your best Jersey political dish, every day! But enough about how pretty we are, who’s hungry for a few vignettes?!

Cakewalk for Senate President

Much ink was spilled this week about who might succeed Senate President Steve Sweeney if/when he became governor. I think it’s a moot point, but Trenton loves this particualr parlor game. So let’s assess the field (in 5 words or less!)

  • Sen. Loretta Weinberg? Isn’t she next in line?
  • Sen. Joe Vitale? An adult at the till.
  • Sen. Nick Scutari? Keep your eyes on him.
  • Sen. Nia Gill? Straight to God’s ears, please!

Nanny state democrats

I was in NY last weekend visiting old friends and making new ones.

“So you’re in New Jersey politics?!” one slightly-concerned hipster asked me, “WTF is up with your Governor!? Is he in jail yet?”

After some back-and-forth about Gov. Chris Christie’s enduring irredeemability, the one republican in the room chimed in with some shade of his own.

“At least Jersey republicans aren’t trying to ban coffee in your car,” my new friend observed. “Or make it illegal to walk and text at the same time!”

He was referring to a pair of democratic-sponsored bills; the first by Gubernatorial wannabe/Assemblyman John Wisniewski to ban distracted driving. The no-texting legislation was proposed by Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt.

I won’t add my voice to the mountain of ridicule those two have endured since they dropped those bills, which frankly addressed righteous concerns. We all know how annoying and dangerous it is to share the roadways and sidewalks with someone who’s distracted.

But, damn! Did anyone in Wiz’ or Lampitt’s coterie ever take a nanosecond and say, “you know, this thoughtful well-meaning bill might not come off the way you’re intending it too. Even folks who agree with you in principle may resent the coercive, punitive nature of this approach. And everyone else will mock you for playing into the nanny state stereotype of democrats.”

I kinda feel badly for them, at least they tried, right? But I also feel badly for myself that I go to Brooklyn and this is what people wanna talk about.

For Wisniewski and Lampitt, both thoughtful legislators whose well-intentioned ideas went slightly viral for the wrong reasons, I offer this pro tip: If you wanna go (good) viral, it’s a perfect time to focus on the heroin crisis (which you probably care about already.)

National Recovery Month

If you follow Gubernatorial wannabe/State Senator Raymond Lesinak on Twitter, you know that September is National Recovery Month. Lesniak does a lot more than just Tweet about addiction. There’s a recovery high school named in his honor in Union County.

There are a half-dozen others who, like Lesniak, appear keen to succeed Chris Christie. What’s their plan to 1) keep addiction from happening 2) address addiction when it does happen and 3) help addicts in recovery amend their life to the point they can afford NJ’s property taxes.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Mayor Steven Fulop, Ambassador Phil Murphy, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, Sen. Steve Sweeney, et al are welcome to use my column space to share their vision for a less heroin-addicted garden state.

As a former IV drug user who checked into rehab on a brisk September morning 13 years ago, I want to hear their plan. And if they want to be the next governor, New Jersey needs to hear their plan too.

Jay Lassiter started covering New Jersey politics in 2005 as a blogger for After a stint as America’s first State House blogger, Jay did communication for Congressman Rob Andrews and Congressman John Adler. Jay’s best known for his work legalizing medical marijuana and gay marriage and for working to end N.J.’s death penalty. He’s on Twitter @Jay_Lass.

The New Jersey Political Dish You’re Starving For