MMM Year In Review – April

As is customary, April started with a joke.   This year the month of April ended with two jokes; the school board elections  and the President of the United States of America released his long form birth certificate.

After three years of study, Hopewell Township passed an ordinance regulating chicken sex.

A tongue in cheek post about who the Democrats could get to challenge Senator Joe Kyrillos when their endorsed candidate failed to submit his nominating petitions, generated more calls from Trenton than any other post of the year.

The worst joke of the month has consequences that will last at least a decade.  “Continuity of representation,” a political value in the mind of Rutgers professor Alan Rosenthal, trumped competitiveness and the state constitution in determining the lines of the new gerrymandered legislative map.

The stakes were so high that Governor Christie got personally involved in the negotiations regarding the map.  But Rosenthal’s was the only vote that counted.  The professor was not persuaded by the governor.

The map was so gerrymandered for the Democrats that Christie and the Republicans did not even try to win control of the legislature.  The governor, who came into office vowing to “turn Trenton upside down” transformed into the “compromiser in chief” in order to salvage what he could of his reform agenda.

While Rosenthal preserved the status quo for the Trenton trough swilling class, he unwittingly contributed to the creatation of a national Republican rock star, as Christie, freed up from having to work to win control of the legislature transferred his political attentions to the national stage.

The new map was no joke for many in Monmouth County

Senator Sean Kean of Wall was put into the same district as his friend, Senator Robert Singer of Lakewood.  After a few days of saber rattling about a primary for the seat, cooler heads prevailed as Kean agreed to go back to the Assembly to represent the safely Republican 30th district. 

Ocean County Republican Chairman George Gilmore told MMM that the Democrats put Singer and Kean in the same district in the hopes that the GOP would waste resources on a contentious primary in a safe district.  The real reason was that the Democrats were horrified at the prospect of Dan Jacobson returning to the legislature in the upper house.

Jacobson was preparing a fanatasy Republican primary challenge to Kean for Senate should Wall and Asbury Park remain in the same district.   The Democrats, who have never understood Monmouth County, didn’t realize the futility of such an endeavor.  But they knew Jacobson and they weren’t taking any chances.  So they put Senator Jennifer Beck in the same district as Jacobson, knowing that he would never challenge her in a primary.  Jacobson, through his newspaper, created Jennifer Beck.  Just ask him.

The new 11th district would be represented by Beck in the Senate and Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande in the Assembly.  A district represented by three women.  A historic first. 

Assemblyman Dave Rible, formerly of the 11th,  was now in the 30th with Singer and Kean.

The new 12th district provided brief drama due to the fact that the lines created a senate vacancy.  Sam Thompson of Middlesex County and Ronald Dancer of Ocean County were the incumbent Assemblymen in the predominently Western Monmouth district.   The Monmouth GOP wanted to keep three senators.  Thompson wanted to move up. Freeholder Director Rob Clifton had long eyed Thompson’s seat in the assembly, but the senate vacancy presented an unexpected opportunity.  Always level headed and not one to needlessly rock the boat, Clifton let the Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex and Burlington chairmen figure it out.  Thompson got the senate nod and Clifton joined the ticket with Dancer running for assembly.

The 13th district became even safer for Senator Joe Kyrillos.  Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon of Little Silver joined Kyrillos and Assemblywoman Amy Handlon in representing the district.   Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornick, a Democrat, had his ambitions put on hold by the map makers who put Marlboro into the 13th.

The Democrats did the best they could, but only put up nominal opposition in the Monmouth legislative districts and on the county level.

Former Howell Chair Norine Kelly passed away in April.

Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno threw Carl Lewis off the 8th legislative district ballot for Senate.

A team of six Red Bank Regional High School students won the national Cyber Patriot III competition in applied defense technology.

The Monmouth County Freeholders established term limits for boards and commissions.

Posted: December 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 2011 Year in review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

MMM Year In Review – March

Governor Christie’s flirtation with the national media and GOP fundraisers over running for president started to build momentum during March.  He told reporters in Washington that he wouldn’t be governor in 2014.  He told the National Review’s Rick Lowry “I already know I could win” the presidency.

The Monmouth County Freeholders suspended three SCAT drivers who had called out sick on February 25 but were caught on camera protesting labor reforms in Trenton.  State Senator Joe Kyrillos praised the Freeholders for their action and stepped up his call for civil service reform.

Anna Little told The Auditor that she was thinking of running for U.S. Senate instead of Congress.

Peter Burnham was suspended as Brookdale College President on March 3.   On March 9 Burnham resigned.

Citizen journalist James O’Keefe embarrassed NPR and came to Monmouth County as a Special Guest Speaker at the Bayshore Tea Party Group’s St. Patrick’s Day Celebration.  O’Keefe ended up being embarrassed himself over the press coverage of the event which included accurate reports that he did not want the event videoed.

Monmouth University Pollster Patrick Murray accurately predicted that Dr. Alan Rosenthal, the tie breaking member of the legislative reapportionment, would choose the Democrats new legislative map.  Murray based his prediction on Rosenthal’s scholarlly work espousing “continuity of representation,” i.e.,  that there is a value to voters being continuously represented by the same legislator after redistricting.

Even though MMM debunked the value of “continuity of representation” and the Bayshore Tea Party Group submitted a constitutional map, Rosenthal did indeed side with the Democrats, thereby assuring Democratic control of the legislature at least until the 2021 election.

After months of reading MMM, former Democratic Assemblyman and triCityNews publisher Dan Jacobson had an epiphany and registered as a Republican.   Jacobson started submitting his weekly columns to MMM and prepared to challenge Senator Sean Kean in old 11th district Republican primary

Spring Lake Councilman Gary Rich received the Monmouth GOP’s endorsement for Freeholder.  Rich received 25 votes from the screening committee.  Manalapan Mayor Andrew Lucas received 23 votes and Wall Committeeman George Newberry received 22 votes.  Howell Mayor Bob Walsh removed himself from contention prior to the committee vote.

Posted: December 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: 2011 Year in review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on MMM Year In Review – March

LD 16 Assembly Race: A Classic Grassroots vs. Establishment Matchup

The 16th legislative district Assembly vacancy caused by the untimely death of Assemblyman Peter Biondi is resulting in yet another NJ Republican grassroots vs. establishment, conservative vs. moderate, battle.

The new LD 16 is comprised of parts of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset Counties.  Somerset dominates the district.  The Somerset GOP is dominated by Princeton Public Affairs Group, perhaps the most powerful lobbying firm in Trenton. The current Somerset GOP Chairman, Alfred Gaburo, is a senior executive at PPAG.  The former Somerset GOP Chair, Dale Florio, founded PPAG.

PPAG’s Republican members have deep roots in the NJ GOP establishment dating back to the Whitman-DiFranceso-Haytaian era.   PPAG’s Democrats have equally deep roots in their party.  PPAG and their clients are prominent among the “Who’s Who” of New Jersey.  It doesn’t get more establishment than PPAG.

The Somerset GOP has lined up behind Hunterdon County Freeholder William Mennen to fill Biondi’s Assembly seat, according to Politickernj.  Mennen lives in Tewskbury, part of the new 23rd legislative district.  He will move into the 16th.  Most probably he will move into a Hunterdon County town in the 16th, as his Somerset County support is very likely the result of a deal between the Hunterdon and Somerset GOP chairs.   The other LD 16 legislators, Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman and newly elected Jack Ciattarelli hail from Somerset.  Ciattarelli is a Somerset County Freeholder.  He was nominated for Assembly after incumbent Denise Coyle was redistricted out of the district and decided to retire rather than move.

You really need a score card to keep track of the players in this district.  Biondi’s death and Coyle’s decision not to move really messed up Dr. Alan Rosenthal’s theory of continuity of representation, at least as it applies to LD 16.

Mennen is an heir of the deodorant company that was founded in Newark in 1878 and moved to Morristown in 1953.  He is the great-great grandson of company founder Gerhard H. Mennen.

The company, which was sold to Colgate-Palmolive in 1992, donated the land for the William G. Mennen Sports Arena to Morris County in 1973.  G. Mennan “Soapy” Williams, grandson Mennen’s founder, was the Democratic governor of Michigan from January 1, 1949 through January 1, 1961.  You don’t get much more establishment than Mennen.

Challenging Mennen and the establishment will be grassroots activist Bill Spadea of Princeton.  Princeton is in the Mercer County part of LD 16, but the Mercer and Middlesex GOP organizations have little say in the race.  They are minority portions of the district and the counties are Democratic strongholds.

Spadea was the 2004 GOP nominee for Congress against Rush Holt.  In 2008, Spadea and his friend, biotech executive John Crowley, founded Building a New Majority, who’s stated mission is to develop Republican candidates for local, county and state offices through direct financial contributions and grassroots support.  The organization’s pragmatic mission was widely considered  to be the  building of a network to support Crowley’s political ambitions to be a U.S. Senator, which have waned in recent years.

Spadea sent an email to Building a New Majority members last night announcing that he was stepping down as President to prepare for the LD 16 Assembly race.

While an activist with strong conservative credentials and relationships, Spadea is not a fire breathing RINO hunter in the Lonegan tradition.   Through Building a New Majority he has sought to be a bridge between to the establishment and the more conservative grassroots Republicans.  His bridge building could work against him in a primary.  Establishment voters will automatically support Mennen.  Conservatives may hold Spadea’s support of Rudy Guiliani in the 2008 presidential primary against him.

Spadea’s conservative supporters are already positioning him as the real conservative over the moderate Mennan.  However that could prove to be a tough sell.  Mennen’s record of fiscal conservatism as a Hunterdon County Freeholder is solid.

Spadea has little hope of winning at a convention to replace Biondi.  If he is able to raise money to fund a competitive primary against likely incumbent Mennen, he will face a very uphill battle in a presidential year where Mennen will likely be sharing the line with the Mitt Romney, another heir of a Michigan governor, who will have likely have already locked up the GOP presidential nomination.

Posted: November 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Legislature, NJ GOP, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Murray: Dems will get their map

By Art Gallagher

New Jersey will have a legislature controlled by the Democratic party for another ten years, according to Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray.

In a column posted on Politickernj and on his own blog Murray dissects the tea leaves of that Alan Rosenthal, the tie breaking 11th member of redistricting commission, revealed in his public statements about the standards that will be used to determine the new legislative map.  Murray concludes that the Rosenthal approved map will result in 22 “safe” Democratic districts and 18 “safe” Republican districts.

Murray says that Rosenthal values “continuity of representation” ….that incumbents should be drawn into districts where the majority of voters are already represented by them…over “competitiveness”  and that as a result the new map will have a “deminis” impact on the status quo.

Murray also implied that the Democrats have outmaneuvered the Republican in there redistricting preparation. He says Democrats organized themselves to negotiate with the 11th members of the commission whereas the Republicans organized themselves to challenge the new map in court, where they will likely lose.

Murray’s margin of error is +/- 100% of Rosenthal’s consistency with his historical body of work.

Posted: March 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Legislature, Monmouth University Poll, Patrick Murray, Reapportionment | Tags: , , | 3 Comments »