Good morning. It's Saturday, February 21st and it's Election Day in New Jersey, again

Voters will go to the polls today, likely in very small numbers and using paper ballots, to elect Fire Commissioners and approve fire budgets in a more than 25 municipalities throughout the state.  In many towns, Fire Commissioners are paid positions.  Polls are typically open from 2PM to 9PM, and most contests are unopposed. 

The premier Fire Commissioner race is in Woodbridge, where former Council President and Republican Municipal Chairman Kenneth Gardner hopes to restart his political career as a District 1 Fire Commissioner.  Gardner, who sought the GOP nomination for Congress in 2000 and lost bids for local office, is hoping that the Fire Commissioner seat might help him return to public office or enhance his ability to get a state job if a Republican is elected Governor.  He faces Ryan Horvath, a young fire captain who has been visiting voters door-to-door.

Republican County Committee in Hunterdon and Warren County are meeting today to elect a new Assemblyman from the 23rd district.  Hunterdon Freeholders Matthew Holt and Erik Peterson, and Warren Freeholder John DiMaio, are vying to fill the vacant seat created when Marcia Karrow moved up to the State Senate earlier this month.

And in Union County, Republicans will hold the first-in-the-state gubernatorial convention to award the organization line for the June primary.  Former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie is favored to win, and former Bogota Mayor Steven Lonegan is likely to finish second.  The real race is for third place between five-term Assemblyman Rick Merkt and Brian D. Levine, the Mayor of Franklin Township.

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Weekend TV: schools, the budget, Corzine

Weekend TV: schools, the budget, Corzine
New Jersey Education Association President Joyce Powell will be on NJN this weekend to talk about school district consolidation.

Governor Corzine will appear on Face the Nation on Sunday, airing 10:30a.m. on CBS.    

Today at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m., Michael Aron will host Reporters Roundtable, where four journalists will discuss Gov. Corzine’s budget announcement, the plan to furlough state workers, Chris Christie and Steve Lonegan’s contrasting budget ideas, Chris Daggett’s run for governor and the federal stimulus package.  Panelists are Max Pizarro of PolitickerNJ, Mary Fuchs of WBGO-WHYY Public Radio, The AP’s Angela Delli Santi and the Record’s John Reitmeyer.

This weekend’s On the Record, also hosted by Aron, will be about school district consolidation and will feature a discussion with NJEA President Joyce Powell; Assemblyman/Democratic State Chairman Joe Cryan; Dr. Gerald Vernotica from the Department of Education and a school district attorney Vito Gagliardi.  The show airs Sunday at 9a.m. and 11a.m., and again on Monday at 6:30a.m.


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Christie picks up 234 GOP endorsements in Lonegan's home county

Gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie today picked up the endorsements of 234 Republican leaders and elected officials in Bergen County, the home county of his chief rival, former Bogota Mayor Steven Lonegan.  Christie has the support of two-third of the county’s GOP Municipal Chairmen, and 23 Republican mayors.

Christie’s supporters include Bergen County GOP Chairman Robert Yudin, State Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest), County Clerk Kathleen Donovan, Assemblymen John Rooney (R-Northvale) and David Russo (R-Ridgewood), Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk (R-Montvale), and former Bergen County Executive William “Pat” Schuber.

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Conrad steps in to 1st District race

Upper Township Committeeman Frank Conrad will enter the competitive county committee process for the party nod in the 1st Legislative District.

“It is my pleasure to ask for your endorsement as a Republican Candidate for the General Assembly Seat representing District 1 in the November 2009 general election,” Conrad wrote in a letter of intent to the Republican parties of the district’s 3 counties: Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic.

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Star-Ledger and Record combine statehouse staff

The Star-Ledger and The Record announced today that they are combining their statehouse bureaus, calling the new team of reporters “the largest in the nation” for a state capital.

Both papers, known to compete fiercely for scoops, have hit tough times with the economic downturn, and have recently taken cost saving measures from buying out 40% of newsroom staff in the Ledger’s case to closing newsrooms and making reporters go mobile at The Record.  

“At a time when newspapers have had to cut back news staffs, this cooperation allows us to pool resources and better serve all our readers,” Jim Willse, editor of The Star Ledger, in a press release.

Combined, the two papers will have a statehouse staff of 11.

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Environmental group leaders say Corzine has no lock on their support

Environmental group leaders say Corzine has no lock on their support
State environmental leaders hint that their endorsements in the 2009 gubernatorial campaign could go to Gov. Jon Corzine (D), former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie (R), or former Environental Protection Commissioner Christopher Daggett (I).

In his 2005 gubernatorial bid, then-U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine had the whole-hearted support of New Jersey's biggest environmental groups, who called his campaign platform "one of the most comprehensive" ever outlined by a gubernatorial candidate.   

"We were the first to publicly endorse him," said New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel. 

This time around, that is far from certain.

"I think Corzine has aggravated and frustrated the environmental community at large," said Tittel. "I think that in a lot of ways, peoples' patience has kind of run out, partially because a lot of things that he committed to doing really haven't gotten done. Part of it has also been that a lot of little bad things have happened."

With the national and state economy in shambles, residents concerned with their property taxes and state workers' unions rebelling against money-saving measures, the environment will almost certainly not be the foremost issue this election cycle.  Tittel acknowledges that, but doesn't think that it relegates his cause to the back burner, especially since it's tied into the economy by President Obama's green jobs plan. 

The announcement this week that former Commissioner of Environmental Protection Christopher Daggett, who held posts in the Kean and Reagan administrations, will run for Governor as an independent could force the two major party candidates to spend more time talking about the environment than they otherwise would.

Environmentalists put the Governor's lack of commitment to open space funding among the worst parts of his record.  Corzine favors once again funding open space through a ballot question, which annoys environmentalists who believe the issue is too important to depend on the whim of the electorate.

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Teaneck Councilman to challenge Johnson, Huttle at Dem convention

Teaneck Councilman Adam Gussen, a critic of the Democratic splinter group headed up by state Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck), plans to seek an Assembly seat against Weinberg's allies in the District 37 Democrats' convention next month.

"I believe by and large the problems in New Jersey today are the result of the collective product of our legislators, and we cannot fix the problems with the people and the thinking that caused the problems," said Gussen in a phone interview with

Gussen said that he has filed to take on incumbents Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Fair Lawn) and Gordon Johnson (D-Englewood).

The convention, where county committee members from the eleven towns that comprise the legislative district will choose who will get the party line in the June primary, is planned for Wednesday, March 11th.

Gussen said that he will not run in the primary if he does not win, and that he's signed an affidavit to that effect.  Johnson and Huttle both said they refused to sign the affidavit when it was presented to them, since at the time they were not convinced the convention would be fair.

Gussen called Johnson a hypocrite for using "rhetoric about reform, transparency and open government, and yet you have someone representing the district who is a triple dipper, a dual office-holder and has financially supported Lyndon LaRouche."

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Morning News Digest: February 20, 2009

The Back Room

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: October 1st

Bergen County Freeholder forum mostly convivial, but at times confrontational TEANECK - The Bergen County freeholder forum on Tuesday night was a relatively collegial affair until the final two minutes on the 90-minute event. Republican freeholder candidate Robert Avery, flanked by fellow GOP freeholder candidate Bernadette Coghlan-Walsh, referred to...

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Legislation needed for publicly financed gubernatorial elections

By JEFF BRINDLE It is critical that the Legislature soon enact a pending bill that would ensure the state’s Gubernatorial Public Financing Program is available in the event of a special election for governor.  Not only is there no current legal... Read More >


(10-1-14) Mayor Fulop’s Working Family Rebellion Spreads - What began as a commitment between Mayor Steve Fulop and the people of Jersey City is fast becoming a movement spreading... more »
In tribute to John Sheridan, a good and great man     I first learned late last night from television news that John P. Sheridan, Jr. and his wife, Joyce had... more »
(Trenton, NJ) --  On September 23, 2015 I shall dig this up and eat whatever crow I've got coming, but in the meantime only a listicle... 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

"I see Loretta Weinberg in the back of the room. Loretta, you have my eternal admiration for what you did to rid the Democratic Party of a certain political boss. However, not everyone shares that distinction." - Bergen County Republican Freeholder candidate Robert Avery

- PolitickerNJ


Which of these "Mount Rushmore of Corruption" states deserves the centerpiece?:


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