After talk with Diaz, Balut plans to give up governor's race; vows to back Christie

After talk with Diaz, Balut plans to give up governor's race; vows to back Christie
Perth Amboy Councilman Ken Balut says he won't challenge Jon Corzine in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, and expects to back Republican Chris Christie for Governor.

No devotee of Gov. Jon Corzine, freshman Perth Amboy Councilman Ken Balut nevertheless says he doesn't get the sense there's any Democratic Party exodus in his direction, and therefore plans to end his campaign for governor. 

His decision comes after Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz advised him to rethink his plan, and a day after political consultant James Devine sent out an email declaring Balut's intention to run a scrappy, anti-establishment campaign against Corzine. 

An entrenched opponent of Democratic State Committee Chairman Joseph Cryan and a critic of Corzine's, Devine advised Balut to get in the statewide primary, and as of Sunday remained convinced the councilman would remain steadfast in his dedication to a blue collar run for governor. 

"He's exploring a run in the primary," Devine told "He's laying the groundwork but he hasn't filed the paperwork. He's running." 

But following a Thursday lunch meeting with Diaz at the Barge on Perth Amboy's waterfront in which the mayor asked Balut to join her in focusing on the city rather than creating a distraction with a quixotic run for higher office, Balut admitted she had a point.

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Karrow wins Senate seat; calls for unity as Doherty vows to fight her in primary

Karrow wins Senate seat; calls for unity as Doherty vows to fight her in primary
Senator-elect Marcia Karrow (R-Raritan) won a special election convention today with 58% of the vote. She'll replace Leonard Lance, who was elected to Congress.

CLINTON - Running as a homegrown conservative who knows the difference between hay and straw, Assemblywoman Marcia A. Karrow of Raritan Twp. prevailed here over Assemblyman Michael Doherty of Washington Twp. in the special 23rd District convention, 195 to 143 to votes. 

Despite what most observers conceded was a sizeable victory in this rural western legislative district and Karrow's from-the-podium call for unity in a gubernatorial election year, Doherty said he intends to fight on and face the senator-designate in the June Republican Party primary.

"I would hope he would abide by the voice of the people in the district," Karrow told reporters moments after her victory. "I won by 25%, and we need to have unity in the state. The Democrats are very well organized. We need to focus on the governor's race. We need to focus on defeating Jon Corzine."

But Doherty said he's dug in to claim the senate seat U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton) gave up last year when he won his 7th District Congressional race.

Although admittedly surprised by the results of this convention, Doherty took a grassroots view of the situation and said he likes his chances in a head-to-head with Karrow away from the halls of party power. 

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Voting underway now in Clinton in a larger context as Lonegan makes an appearance

Voting underway now in Clinton in a larger context as Lonegan makes an appearance
Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan

CLINTON - Now a long line of people moves toward the stage to vote, 184 committee people from Hunterdon and 160 from Warren, according to unconfirmed joint committee sources.

"I'm glad they decided to do this professionally with voting machines, taking a page from Dale Florio over there in Somerset County," says Hunterdon County Freeholder William Mennen.

Just before the crowd breaks to vote, there are unmistakable implications of stagecraft, as former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan can be seen lingering on one side of the room, the anti-establishment Republican candidate for governor, balancing out the organizational presence on the other side of GOP operative Mark Duffy and former U.S. Senate candidate Dick Zimmer.

"I'm here backing Doherty," says Lonegan. "Marcia's good, but Mike has a terrific record. He's backed me in the past, and now I'm backing him."

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Karrow presents herself as rural and local

Karrow presents herself as rural and local
Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow (R-Raritan Twp.)

CLINTON – Her father’s struggles in the Depression shaped Assemblywoman Marcia Karrow’s (R-Raritan Twp.) conservatism, she tells the crowd of Warren and Hunterdon County county committee people. 

Unlike her opponent, Assemblyman Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp.), Karrow, 49, grew up here in the 23rd District, daughter of a local public official, who knows about barn building and bringing in the hay. She goes hardcore local in an emotional speech.

“Those of you who were born here know about taking care of one another,” she says. “My passion as a public servant comes from that. You’re my passion.”

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Doherty presents himself as the fiscal and social conservative

Doherty presents himself as the fiscal and social conservative
Assemblyman Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp.)

CLINTON – His name’s in and Assemblyman Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp.) strides across the stage in front of the burgundy curtain, a 45-year old retired Army captain, 6 ft. 2 and ramrod at the podium now, telling the crowd he wants government out of people’s lives and out of their wallets. 

To win today, Doherty will need to prove he did the political legwork in Hunterdon County, which has about 40 more county committee seats than Doherty’s Warren County.  His allies say he has them, thanks to his vanguard role as a movement conservative, and it doesn't take long for the boom to come into his voice as he tries to prove his viability. 

“I’ve run in a lot of hard primaries, ladies and gentlemen, but I’m the senior guy for a reason,” Doherty cries. “Voters are pretty smart. They know who the Reagan conservative is. I’m always been the top voter, ladies and gentlemen, in Hunterdon and Warren counties."

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Nominating speeches moments away

Nominating speeches moments away
State Sen. Minority Leader Thomas Kean (R-Union) and Hunterdon County Freeholder William Mennen to his immediate left.

CLINTON TWP. - Hackettstown Mayor Michael B. Lavery nominates Assemblyman Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp.) and Raritan Twp. Mayor Richard O'Malley backs him up.

"Mike has an overwhelming passion to vote against taxes, as you see in your packets, he's voted 103 times against taxes," O'Malley tells the packed house.

In the back of the crowd stands State Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr. (R-Union).

"I'm neutral," says Kean of the Karrow-Doherty showdown. "I will support the Republican nominee."

He removes an envelope from his pocket.

"There is a senate pin in there that I will present to the winner," says Kean.

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It has begun

It has begun
Hunterdon County GOP Chairman Henry Kuhl

CLINTON - The middle school sits on the side of  Route 78 and a packed parking lot gives an early indication that turnout is heavy for this special Republican Convention where committee members from Warren and Hunterdon counties will determine the party nominee for state senator in the 23rd District.

Both candidates, Assemblyman Marcia Karrow (R-Raritan Twp.), the Hunterdon-based candidate - and Assemblyman Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp.) from Warren, work the coming throng in the hallway outside the auditorium, where voting will occur.

"The guy's a political animal," says a political insider, observing Doherty going for people's hands even before their gloves are off as they come through the big double doors and into the school.

And there's Karrow,

She's mobbed by committee people just before they go through the hallway doors.

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Republicans to fill Lance seat today

Today is Election Day in parts of Hunterdon and Warren counties, where members of the Republican County Committee from the 23rd legislative district will hold a special election convention to replace Leonard Lance in the State Senate.  Lance resigned from the Senate on January 3 to take his seat in Congress.

Two Republicans are seeking to replace Lance: four-term Assemblyman Michael Doherty, 45, a former Warren County Freeholder and West Point graduate; and Marcia Karrow, 49, a two-term Assemblywoman who has served as a Hunterdon County Freeholder and as Mayor of Raritan Township.

 Doherty is viewed as one of the most conservative members of the Legislature and has mulled bids for higher office in recent years, including an exploratory committee for the 2008 U.S. Senate nomination.  He was he only legislator to back Ron Paul for President in the last election.  Karrow, a graduate of Smith College, has masters degrees from the University of Michigan and CUNY.  She  is viewed as a moderate and has the backing of the Hunterdon County Republican organization and eight mayors from Warren County.

The winner will get sworn in to the Senate at their next session, now scheduled for February 23.  The Senate contest will trigger another special election convention to fill the soon-to-be vacant Assembly seat.

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The Back Room

POLITICO: GOP on track to expand House majority by 5 or 6 seats

Tepid fundraising, underperforming candidates and a lousy party brand are threatening to deprive House Republicans of the sweeping 2014 gains that some top party officials have been predicting this year, according to Politicker alum Alex Isenstadt, now of Politico.

Read More >

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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White House’s Tuition Challenge Being Met in NJ

By MICHAEL W. KLEIN In his weekly radio address on August 16, President Obama challenged colleges “to do their part to bring down costs” and lighten the tuition burden on students.  The state colleges and universities in New Jersey have... Read More >


My Republican Hillary Clinton Experience    There is a veritable plethora of reportage in print, internet, television and radio media speculating as to whether Hillary Clinton will seek the Democratic... more »
(8-27-14) All Americans Should Support Gov. Perry - Political prosecutions have no place in American life. Those who use the justice system as they are using it in Texas... more »
(Asbury Park, NJ) -- There's a word for someone who says one thing and does another: hypocrite.  There's no shortage of 'em in Trenton -- from ... more »
 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... more »

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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