Republicans on N.J. bridge scandal panel blast Democrats in new report

assetContent (5)TRENTON — The Democratic leaders of the joint legislative committee investigating the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge “ran up exorbitant public costs” and “proved to be some of the most partisan elected officials in modern times,” according to a report released today by the Republican members of the panel. The 119-page “Minority Statement,” issued… Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 9th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Bridgegate, NJ State Legislature, Port Authority | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Republicans on N.J. bridge scandal panel blast Democrats in new report

Tom Kean Jr.’s payback: NJ Senators who opposed him removed from leadership

Tom Kean Jr.’s payback: NJ Senators who opposed him removed from leadership (via NJ.com)

TRENTON — State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. has purged his leadership ranks of two men who attempted to oust him last year. Kean (R-Union) announced the Senate Republicans’ leadership team in a press release today. Absent from the list were…

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Posted: March 10th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: NJ GOP, NJ Senate Republicans, NJ State Legislature | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Tom Kean Jr.’s payback: NJ Senators who opposed him removed from leadership

Forget trying to beat Booker, the NJ GOP should plan for the next gubernatorial election

photo via facebook

photo via facebook

U.S. Senator Cory Booker is going to be elected to his own full term next November.

None of the Republicans said to be considering a challenge to Booker can beat him.

It’s not that Booker is invincible, as was widely thought prior to the Special Senate Election last October.  He is beatable.  Steve Lonegan exposed the fallacies of the Booker myth and Patrick Murray documented that Booker’s support is shallow.   Had Washington Republicans not followed Senator Ted Cruz’s lead to shut down the government in October and had State Comptroller Matt Boxer released his audit of Newark’s City Government which exposed millions of wasted taxpayer money and management practices that encourage fraud in September instead of this week, Lonegan might have pulled off the upset that Booker deserved.

There’s nothing wrong with 4 of the 5 Republicans reported to be looking to challenge Booker.  Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, Senator Minority Leader Tom Kean JR, Senator Mike Doherty or Assemblyman Jay Webber would all serve New Jersey well in the U.S. Senate.

That Darryl Isherwood included Assemblyman Chris Brown is his list of 5 Republican of potential candidates to challenge Booker is more of a reflection of Isherwood’s sense of humor than it is of Brown’s viability as a candidate for any office in the future.  After blaming his Assembly running mate John Amodeo’s 39 vote loss on Governor Christie, Brown will be lottery winner lucky if he is even re-nominated for his Assembly seat in 2015.  “What will Brown do after politics?” MMM asked a senior Republican strategist after the gaffe.  “We’ll find out soon,” the strategist said with a laugh.

(Correction:  As a commenter pointed out, Isherwood was referring to a different Assemblyman Chris Brown (the LD 8 Brown) than the one who blamed Christie for his running mate’s loss.  My mistake makes my overall point.  MMM readers are more informed than the average voter.  How many knew there was even one Chris Brown in the Assembly prior to the LD 2 Brown’s gaffe?  There isn’t a member of the legislature with the statewide name ID to compete with Booker~ Art)

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Posted: December 7th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 2014 Elections, 2014 U.S. Senate race, 2016 Presidential Politics, 2017 NJ Gubernatorial Politics, NJ GOP, Republican Party | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Kean-Christie Wounds Are Festering

While Trenton Democrats are planning their aggressive “lame -duck” agenda with an eye on making Governor Chris Christie’s 2016 prospects more difficult, New Jersey’s two most popular Republicans, Christie and former Governor Tom Kean, are letting hurt feelings over the attempted ouster of Tom Kean, JR as Senate Minority Leader dominate the news on the Republican side of the aisle.

In case you missed it or didn’t care, on the heels of his landslide reelection with no coattails, Christie made it known that he wanted Senator Kevin O’Toole to replace Kean, JR as the Republican leader in the upper house of the legislature.  Junior got wind of the coup attempt and rallied the majority of the caucus to stick with him.  The day after the election, Christie publicly expressed his commitment to continue working with Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney and declined to comment on who the leader of the Republican minority in the Senate should be.  Junior released a letter signed by 11 of the 16 Republican Senators that expressed their support of him.  The following morning, prior to the Republican caucus meeting to elect their leader, Christie summoned Junior and Republican Senators to his Statehouse office, in view of the press corps, to lobby for O’Toole taking over the minority leadership.

Junior fought back and 9 other Republican Senators stuck with him, giving him a 10-6 victory over O’Toole and giving Christie the first act of defiance from Republicans in four years.

Why did Christie want to oust Junior?  He’s not saying.  Speculation centers on two reasons; 1) Christie was doing Sweeney’s bidding in the Senate President’s ongoing feud with Junior for having the gall to try and win his seat in the Senate and 2) Christie wanted Junior to take the fall for Republicans not picking up any seats in the legislature.

After Junior retained his leadership post, he and O’Toole emerged together from the caucus meeting and put on happy faces to the press, pledging unity and to get to work on the people’s business.  That should have been the end of it.

But then Kean, SR started talking to reporters, expressing his frustration and disappointment with his mentee, Christie.  Kean SR’s comments were “tinged with bitterness” toward Christie, The Record’s Charles Stile wrote on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Kean, SR kept his disappointment with Christie in the news by granting an interview to The Star Ledger’s Matt Friedman wherein he placed the blame for the Democrats retaining the legislature squarely with the Governor.

“You assume that if the governor wins by 20 points or more you’d have coattails,” Kean said. “No governor I know in any state has won by 20 points and not had coattails.”

By Friday, the Kean-Christie story had seemed to blow over. But it had not.

Yesterday, The Associated Press’s Angela Delli Santi posted a story quoting Kean SR as being “as surprised as I’ve ever been in my life in politics,” and how disappointed he is that Christie has yet to call him or Junior, to mend fences.

None of this reflects well on Christie, the Keans or the NJ GOP.

And none of it will help Republicans, Christie and members of the legislature, continue to “turn Trenton upside down.”


Posted: November 17th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: 2013 Election, 2016 Presidential Politics, NJ SAFE Task Force | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments »

Guadagno Watch

Governor Chris Christie’s choice of running mate for his 2013 reelection campaign will have little to do with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno’s performance during the first Christie term.  By all accounts Guadagno has done her job well.  She’s been a good soldier, loyal and obedient surrogate and fine ambassador to the business community.

The hint of scandal that NJ Watchdog has been pushing about Guadagno during her days as Monmouth County Sheriff will have little impact on her status on the ticket.   Just like U.S. Senator Robert Menendez’s prostitution scandal,  nobody in the media cares about the story Mark Lagerkvitz has been pushing for over two years about Gaudagno arranging for Mickey Donovan being able to collect a police pension while acting as her law enforcement chief in Monmouth.   If Trenton Democrats were going to make an issue of Guadagno’s role in Donovan’s double dipping, there probably would already have been hearings in the Senate or Assembly into the matter already.

The imminent decision about Kim Guadagno’s future is all about 2016 and 2017 politics.  It has little to do with the 2013 gubernatorial election.

There has been quiet speculation that Guadagno would not be the second term LG for months.  A story was floated over the summer that she would become New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney if Mitt Romney was elected president.

If Christie runs for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination he will become a part time governor sometime in 2015.  If he becomes the front runner for the nomination he could resign early 2016.  Whether he resigns or not, New Jersey would need an acting governor who is really in charge.  As often as Guadagno has been acting governor over the past three years, no one believes she was really in charge.   If Christie runs for president in 2016, his lt. governor will be running for governor in 2017 as an incumbent, effectively.

Christie probably hasn’t made a decision about 2016.  Yet, he undoubtably wants to keep his options open and to leave New Jersey is strong hands should he decide to run.

If Guadagno is the LG candidate in 2013, that would be a signal that Christie believes that she is ready to be governor and ready to lead the NJ Republican Party.

Bergen Record columnist Charles Stile posted a column yesterday speculating about possible Guadango replacements.  Stile named Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan and six state senators as possible future acting governors;   Joe Kyrillos,  Tom Kean, JR, Jennifer Beck, Diane Allen, Dawn Marie Addiego and Kevin O’Toole.

Christie chose Guadagno over Donovan, Allen and Beck in 2009.  He’s not likely to choose any of them as his running mate in 2013.   Choosing Kyrillos would create a context for Joe’s lackluster campaign against Menendez for U.S. Senate this year.  Other than Kean, son of the former governor and the 2006 U.S. Senate nominee, none of the other mentions significant statewide name recognition.  Kryillos just spent a year and $5 million building statewide name recognition.

Posted: December 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: 2013 Gubernatorial Politics, 2016 Presidential Politics, Chris Christie, Joe Kyrillos, Kim Guadagno, Mickey Donovan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Senator O’Toole Makes Case For Christie’s Supreme Court Nominees

By Senator Kevin O’Toole

The appointment of Justices to the Supreme Court of New Jersey is one of the most important duties afforded to the Governor under our Constitution.  The men and women called to serve as members of our State’s highest judicial body must grapple with the most significant disputes arising from laws in a variety of areas, ranging from criminal justice to corporate governance.  Rightfully, the qualifications of any attorney nominated to sit on the Supreme Court should be carefully scrutinized.  In the case of Governor Christie’s two recent nominees, Bruce Harris and Phillip Kwon, that study reveals the backgrounds of extremely well qualified candidates whose experience is entirely consistent with the past and present Justices of the Supreme Court, all of whom enjoyed swift and strong Senatorial support.

Phillip Kwon has admirably dedicated nearly his entire career to various positions in public service within New Jersey.  A graduate of Georgetown University and Rutgers Law School, Mr. Kwon has worked over the last decade for the State’s Attorney General and the United States Attorney’s Office as the lead trial prosecutor in matters such as narcotics trafficking, gang violence, and public corruption.  He has served with distinction as a manager of dozens of federal prosecutors and thousands of state attorneys, earning the accolades of colleagues and adversaries.  As both a private attorney and a judicial law clerk, he has experience in the same variety of civil matters that will occupy the Supreme Court’s docket in the years to come.

Mr. Harris has achieved the rare distinction of combining a successful career as an attorney at two of the State’s most prestigious private firms, with nearly eight years of elected public service.  A magna cum lade graduate of Amherst College, Mr. Harris also holds an M.B.A, with honors, from Boston University and a law degree from Yale.  In legal practice that spanned nearly two decades, Mr. Harris personally negotiated a wide array of financial transactions, in both the public and private sector, valued in excess of $8 billion.  His legal advice and representation ranged from matters involving environmental projects, health care facilities, and public libraries, to assisted living homes, nonprofits, and residences for the disabled.  Simultaneously, Mr. Harris volunteered his time with a host of local charities, including the Chatham Environmental Commission, the Chatham Historic Preservation Commission, and as a Trustee of the Foundation of the UMDNJ and New Jersey Health Foundation.  He also combined his legal practice with nearly eight years of elected service, first as a member of the Chatham Borough Council and now as Chatham’s Mayor.

Notably, the backgrounds of both of these candidates are highly similar to the experiences and qualifications of our current and past Justices, all of whom received quick approval by the Legislature.  Like Justice LaVecchia, who was confirmed within four days, Mr. Kwon is a graduate of Rutgers Law School.  Mr. Harris not only has a legal degree, but also holds a Masters in Business Administration, which he obtained in 1979.  Similar to Justice Rabner, who was confirmed within 17 days, Mr. Kwon clerked in the U.S. District Court, and held leadership positions in the Office of the United States Attorney.  Both Justices Rabner and Patterson garnered experience at the Office of the Attorney General, as has Mr. Kwon, who has been with the Office since 2010.  Three of the five current justices have extensive legal experience in private practice, as do both Mr. Harris and Mr. Kwon.  Like all members of the court, Mr. Harris and Mr. Kwon have worked in prominent New Jersey law firms.  Nor will Mr. Harris become the first elected Mayor and Councilman to sit on the Court, as Justice Daniel O’Hern served as both Mayor and Councilman of Red Bank before his service as a Justice.Water Sports Product

Moreover, the confirmation of both Mr. Harris and Mr. Kwon will restore much-needed political balance to the high court.  By unwritten rule, Governors have maintained a political party affiliation split on the New Jersey Supreme Court, with no more than four Justices of the Governor’s party serving at the same time.  Since 1947, however, the implementation of that “tradition” has produced a Republican majority a mere five times compared with nineteen Democratic majorities.  Governor Christie’s appointments will honor the real intent of the compromise by creating a true party balance comprised of three registered Republicans (Hoens, Patterson, Harris), two registered Democrats (Rabner, Albin), and two unaffiliated Justices (LaVecchia, Kwon).

 The Constitution does not permit indefinite, or even lengthy, vacancies on the Supreme Court.  While the power of appointment and re-appointment rests solely with the Governor, the Senate holds the privilege of providing advice and consent of all persons asked to serve the people as members of the Court.  The Governor’s selection of these two exceptionally qualified candidates, whose backgrounds are substantially similar to the attorneys who have served our State with distinction, will allow the Senate to move swiftly to publicly consider the temperament of these nominees in fulfillment of our Constitutional duty.

Posted: February 2nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: NJ Supreme Court | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Senator O’Toole Makes Case For Christie’s Supreme Court Nominees