The big story in yesterday’s Asbury Park Press was the political spat between southern Jersey lawmakers and U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg over the proposed Rutgers-Rowan merger. Large photos of State Senate President Sweeney and Lautenberg covered most of the front page.
In case you haven’t been following, Governor Chris Christie has proposed reorganizing Rutgers, Rowan and the University of Medicine and Dentistry. Rutgers-Camden would become part of Rowan. Rowan would get a medical school associated with George Norcross Univeristy Cooper University Hospital. Robert Wood Johnson Hospital would become part of a medical school at Rutgers-New Brunswick, and it will be a while before there are more UMDNJ indictments.
MMM hasn’t been following it all that much. Our young legal eagle friends at Save Jersey don’t like it because they think it will devalue their law degrees if they apply to a firm that doesn’t know the difference between Rutgers-Camden and Rutgers-Newark. And then there’s the two idiots who don’t like the deal…that former Navy SEAL that ran for Assembly who got into it with Christie at a Town Hall meeting and Lautenberg.
If not for the idiot SEAL and the idiot U. S. Senator nobody from New Jersey who isn’t directly affected by the merger would know about it, except for news junkies like us.
Lautenberg wrote to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan alleging the proposed merger is improper and copied U.S. Attorney General Eric “Fast and Furious” Holder and New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney Paul “New Jersey is not corrupt” Fishman, thereby implying that the merger is criminal.
Having already used “idiot” and “numb-nuts” with great fanfare, Christie’s team dubbed Lautenberg’s letter as “outrageous,” “uninformed,” and “bizarre.”
None of that was front page newsworthy. It took Norcross and Sweeney launching Sweeney’s 2014 campaign for Launtenberg’s job to make the front page of the APP.
Wednesday morning Sweeney emailed a scathing open letter attacking Lautenberg for opposing the merger and for his failure as a U.S. Senator to bring home Washington money for New Jersey’s higher education institutions. Several other south Jersey lawmakers, including two Republicans, signed with letter with Sweeney. Norcross later sent a statement calling Lautenberg a “great Senator for north Jersey” who has failed southern New Jersey to the same email list.
The Sweeney/Norcross statements are not really about the Rutger-Rowan merger. The real message is that Lautenberg’s career is coming to an end. That message has been confirmed by the silence of Democratic leaders who have staid out of this fight. U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, Assembly Speaker Sheilia Oliver, Democratic State Chairman John Wisniewski, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker have all been silent. No one is backing up Lautenberg.
The message to Lautenberg…prepare for retirement… just don’t quit and let Christie appoint your replacement. The message to Democratic donors…don’t give to Lautenberg’s 2014 reelection campaign.
So, the point of the last 460 words is that The Asbury Park Press made the 2014 race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate front page news yesterday. That wouldn’t be so bad if there were not a U.S. Senate election between two relatively unknown candidates, U.S. Senator Bob Mendendez and State Senator Joe Kyrillos this year.