In the battle for third in Union, Merkt and Levine seek to lower expectations

In the battle for third in Union, Merkt and Levine seek to lower expectations
Franklin Mayor Brian D. Levine, left, and Assemblyman Rick Merkt are polling at 5% and 2%, respectively, in the race for the Republican nomination for Governor.

Anything less than a win at Saturday's Union County Republican Convention and Chris Christie's campaign would hear echoes of Anne Evans Estabrook, whose 2008 U.S. Senate bid began to unravel after State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio beat her in Union County.

It would be similarly problematic if conservative Steve Lonegan, who has spent most of the last five years running for Governor, finishes below second place.

But then what happens appears less predictable, less solid, as Franklin Township Mayor Brian D. Levine and Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Mendham) battle in the real contest of the day: a contest for third place between two other contenders eager to break out of a field that has grown to seven candidates for the chance to take on Gov. Jon Corzine in November.

Already, the Merkt campaign is minimizing expectations. The candidate is leaving the state tonight for a business trip.

 "I actually have to work for a living," Merkt, a corporate attorney, told "I have to feed my family."

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Sorantino confirms that he will resign tomorrow

Citing business troubles that have left him with little time to devote to his party, Doug Sorantino confirmed that he will resign from his post as Cumberland County Republican Chairman tomorrow.

Sorantino, a former freeholder who has been chairman for one year, said that income from his construction supply and trucking company took a nosedive last year, and that his own economic troubles are distracting him from being able to lead the party.   

“This is an important year for Republicans. We haven’t had an opportunity like this in quite a few years, and given the financial situation, my business is in the construction supply industry, I can’t give the organization the attention it needs to be victorious this year,” said Sorantino in a phone interview with PolitickerNJ.  “My priority would be in the wrong place if I didn’t focus on my business… and I didn’t want to shortchange the organization.” 

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Giuliani endorses Christie for Governor

Giuliani endorses Christie for Governor
Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie received the endorsement of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani today. Behind the two ex-Prosecutors is Maxwell Place, the condominium where Gov. Jon Corzine lives.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani today endorsed Christopher Christie for the Republican nomination for Governor.  Giuliani came to Hoboken this afternoon to announce his support for his fellow former U.S. Attorney.  

"Chris is a decisive leader who knows how to make the tough decisions. He will make New Jersey prosperous by cutting taxes, eliminating wasteful spending and bringing jobs back to the state," said Giuliani, who served as Mayor from 1994 to 2002.  "And Chris Christie has a plan to revitalize New Jersey's cities by bringing new jobs here, challenging failing school districts and making the streets safer. Chris is a bold leader who will bring real change to New Jersey."  

Last week, Christie won the support of the New Jersey GOP's leading elder statesman, former Gov. Thomas Kean.  The former federal prosecutor and Morris County Freeholder has announced endorsements from nearly 600 Republican party leaders and elected officials since entering the race on February 4.  A Quinnipiac University poll released the day Christie announced showed him with a 44%-38% lead over the Democratic incumbent, Jon Corzine.  

"I am humbled to have the support of Mayor Giuliani, whose strong leadership made New York City a better place and positively affected the lives of so many New Jerseyans," said Christie. "In these trying times, I will be the leader our state needs to make the tough decisions necessary to get New Jersey back on track." 

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Vineland businessman says he'll seek Assembly seat

Vineland businessman Sam Fiocchi said today will seek the Republican nomination for State Assembly in the first district, which is expected to be one of the most competitive legislative races of the year.

"It's just the state of affairs in New Jersey. I've been a small businessman," said Fiocchi, a Vineland resident who heads up a family run irrigation company.  "It's difficult to operate in this business environment, and I'm a Republican. I always felt if you want to make change, you have to step up and do something about it."

Three Republicans have submitted letters of intent to party leaders of the three counties that make up the southernmost legislative district in New Jersey.  They'll compete for two spots on the county lines to take on incumbent Democrats Nelson Albano (D-Vineland) and Matt Milam (D-Vineland).

The district is politically competitive, and both parties view Albano and Milam as vulnerable, especially without the benefit of State Sen. Jefferson Van Drew (D-Dennis) at the top of the ticket.

Michael Donohue, an attorney from Cape May County who came close to winning an assembly seat in 2007, is running and is expected to have no problem securing the party nod.  The real competition will likely be between Fiocchi and Upper Township Committeeman Frank Conrad.

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Wolfe replaces Karrow on budget committee

Assembly Minority Leader Alex DeCroce (R-Parsippany) named Assemblyman David Wolfe (R-Brick Township) to the Budget Committee today.

Wolfe replaces state Sen. Marcia Karrow (R-Raritan), who was elevated from the Assembly earlier this month to replace U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton) in the state senate. 

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Doyle endorses Holt in the 23rd

Doyle endorses Holt in the 23rd
Hunterdon County Freeholder Matt Holt

Locked in a three-way fight to claim a vacant Assembly seat in the 23rd District, Hunterdon County Freeholder Matt Holt today announced the support for his campaign of former Hunterdon County Sheriff Bill Doyle.

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Daggett will run for governor as an Independent

Daggett will run for governor as an Independent
Christopher Daggett, a former state Commissioner of Environmental Protection, says he'll file papers within the next to weeks to run for Governor of New Jersey as an Independent.

Christopher Daggett, who held top environmental posts under Gov. Thomas Kean and President Ronald Reagan, says he will mount an Independent bid for Governor of New Jersey this year.

Daggett served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Kean, as regional administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and in Kean's cabinet as Commissioner of Environmental Protection.

The Basking Ridge resident says  he has become disillusioned with the two major parties, which serve entrenched interests, in his view, and not the will of the people.  Daggett says Democrats and Republicans are mutually mired in special interest party loyalties that prevent them from working across the aisle.

“Look how much hope the country had after the presidential election, which broke down along party lines and partisan bickering as Congress tried to pass the federal stimulus package,” Daggett said. "I feel bad for Obama.”

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Sources say Cumberland GOP chairman will quit

Sources say Cumberland GOP chairman will quit
Cumberland County GOP Chairman Douglas Sorantino, left, is expected to resign the post he took over last year when Larry Pepper, center, retired after 33 years. The leading candidate for the chairmanship is Bob Greco, right, who managed the GOP campaign in 2008.

After a bruising loss in November in which his party lost two constitutional officers and its last seat on the freeholder board, Cumberland County Republican Chairman Doug Sorantino is expected to step down from his post tomorrow.

Two Republican sources say Sorantino, a former freeholder who took over the party last year after 33-year reign of former chairman Larry Pepper, will likely be replaced by Bob Greco, a party activist who managed the Republican county campaigns last year.  Sorantino's name has already been removed from the Republican State Committee website.

Sorantino could not immediately be reached for comment. Greco said that he would leave it up to Sorantino to announce his own plans, but acknowledged that he is interested in taking over the post if there is an opening.

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The Back Room

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 2nd

Campaign season now under way in Bergen County Politics is practiced year-round in Bergen County, and street-level campaigning has been going on quietly all summer. But both Republicans and Democrats say the Rutherford Street Fair on Labor Day signals a more intense phase of electioneering. (Ensslin/The Bergen Record)  ...

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Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"Governor Christie ripped President Obama this summer for failing to carve out some time during a Texas fundraising swing to visit the Mexican border, where the unprecedented flood of immigrant children from Central America had reached a crisis point. ...Yet Christie is not squeezing in a tour of the troubled border during his own three-day trade and diplomatic mission to Mexico, which is set to begin on Wednesday. The governor is planning a series of meetings with Mexican officials, including President Enrique Peña Nieto and the finance and energy ministers." - columnist Charles Stile

- The Bergen Record


Governor Chris Christie's trip to Mexico...:


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