Corzine allies respond to Christie news

Corzine allies respond to Christie news
Gov. Jon Corzine, right, and Democratic Party State Chairman Joe Cryan

Focused on the reelection of Gov. Jon Corzine, the Democrats issued a brief statement today, taking a three-candidate in one shot in the wake of former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie’s announcement that he's planning to run for governor.   

“Whether it’s a right-wing small town mayor, a right-wing mountain man assemblyman, or a Bush-Cheney political appointee, we’ll see who wins the nomination,” said State Party Chairman Joseph Cryan, referring respectively to former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, Assemblyman Richard Merkt (D-Mendham) and Christie.

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In Morristown, Cryan says Cresitello likely to pursue reelection

In Morristown, Cryan says Cresitello likely to pursue reelection
Morristown Council President John Cryan

He’s up for re-election this year, and no one knows whether Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello will run. However, Council president John Cryan, who four years ago ran on the Democratic Party line with Cresitello, said he believes the mayor is likely to pursue reelection. 

“I don’t know what he’s going to do,” said Cryan, a first cousin of State Democratic Party Chairman Joseph Cryan.  “But I can’t see him walking away when things are starting to click, when development projects are starting to take off in Morristown. I can’t see him turning down ribbon cutting ceremonies. So my money is on him running.” 

Sources say Cresitello at one point told former Councilman Timothy Dougherty that he wouldn’t run for mayor again. Dougherty was poised to run. 

But now the trypically headstrong Cresitello isn’t sure.

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Merkt on Christie

Although he pointed out that Chris Christie’s filing doesn’t constitute a formal declaration to run for governor, today’s news didn’t surprise gubernatorial candidate Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Mendham), Christie’s former running mate.  

“A lot of people file papers and then don’t run, but he’s clearly been pointing in that direction for months,” said Merkt. “I welcome his entry into the race. I hope this is competitive race where the public picks the candidate. I look forward to being able to express vigorous differences on policy in a way that’s civil and respectful and doesn’t demean the office we’re seeking.” 

A declared candidate since last fall, Merkt has positioned himself as the only one among former U.S. Attorney Christie, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan and Franklin Township Brian Levine who possesses state government experience.

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Lonegan reacts to Christie news

Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan today took credit for what he described as accelerating Chris Christie’s formal entrance into the Republican primary for governor.  

“I’m kind of proud of myself,” said Lonegan, himself a candidate. “I filed $400,000 in matching funds and people jump. Within 48 hours of me announcing my matching funds, he gets in the race.”  

A leader of New Jersey’s conservative movement, Lonegan said he still does not know where Christie, a former U.S. Attorney with a crime fighting track record, stands on the rest of the issues. 

“He opposes corruption,” said Lonegan. “So do I. But now that he’s declared and on the battlefield, we’re going to start comparing stands on issues. It’s going to be the experience of a mayor and business owner, versus an attorney. This is a classic case of a conservative, low-tax Republican versus the status quo.

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Christie will run for Governor

Christie will run for Governor
Former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie will enter the race for Governor today.

Former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie is expected to announce today that he intends to seek the Republican nomination for Governor.  Christie will file formal papers with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Christie, 46, served as New Jersey’s federal prosecutor from 2002 to 2008, where he led a virtual war on political corruption.  His convictions included former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, former Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Wayne Bryant, and Essex County Executive James Treffinger.

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Dressel pledges union will back only Democrats if he replaces Ferriero

Dressel pledges union will back only Democrats if he replaces Ferriero
Union leader Buzz Dressel is expected to run for Bergen County Democratic Chairman if Joe Ferriero is ousted.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 164 endorsed Republican Henry McNamara for Bergen County Executive in 2002 at the request of Democratic powerhouse John Lynch, according to Richard "Buzz" Dressel, the business manager for the local.  Lynch, a former Senate President, is now serving a 39 month sentence after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.

If there is contest to replace indicted Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero, Dressel is expected to face off against Michael Kasparian, a real estate developer and Democratic fundraiser with ties to Ferriero.  Dressel says the IBEW's endorsements of McNamara and GOP County Clerk Kathleen Donovan won't hamper his ability to replace Ferriero.  He says the union was backing McNamara because he was stronger in his opposition to the Xanadu project than the eventual winner, Democrat Dennis McNerney.  And he says even Ferriero tried to get Donovan to seek re-election last year as a Democrat.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge), who met with Kasparian today, says Dressel shouldn't be penalized for a couple of union endorsements.

"That was his union, it wasn't specifically Buzzy," said Sarlo.   "Look, if the county committee picks him he would have to guarantee that all endorsements out of that union hall are Democratic."

At 3,500 members, Dressel's local is the largest electrical construction workers union in the state.

"That's the largest union in Bergen County, and the fact that he's the president could turn into a big positive for him," said Sarlo.

Dressel's union, whose campaign contributions included one to GOP gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler in 2001, will endorse only Democrats from now on.  "Without a doubt," he told PolitickerNJ.com.

"We need to bring credibility back to the Bergen County Democratic Party," added Dressel, a Commissioner of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. "This is not the Democratic Party my grandfather was a part of. We're supposed to be connecting people to the process, and that's what I want to do. I want to bring the party back together. I'd actually be calling for meetings and a transparent process. Meanwhile, there's somebody running against me who is unequivocally Joe Ferriero's clone."

On his way in to meet with Paramus developer and Democratic Party fundraiser Kasparian today, State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) dismissed the rumor of a conflict and said Dressell shouldn't be penalized for backing a Republican or two.

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Palatucci was a natural to become Bush's N.J. connection

Palatucci was a natural to become Bush's N.J. connection
Bill Palatucci, Chris Christie's former law partner, managed campaigns for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Tom Kean.

Democrats seem determined to tie former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie to President Bush if he becomes the Republican nominee for Governor, but Christie’s allies say that it was the ex-Prosecutor’s friend and top strategist, William Palatucci, who avidly championed Bush when he began running for President in the late 1990’s.

Christie, who was Palatucci’s law partner, raised money for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign as part of a bigger effort coordinated by Palatucci, a veteran Republican operative who ran campaigns for Ronald Reagan, Thomas Kean and George H.W. Bush.

“It’s hard to imagine the Democrats not using every opportunity possible to highlight the fact that Chris Christie was part of an effort that raised significant money for George W. Bush, one of the most unpopular politicians in a generation” said Ben Dworkin, director of the David Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University. “He’s had an outstanding career as U.S. Attorney. But the connection is different from the one the Democrats tried to use against U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance.”

Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Fanwood), the Democratic candidate for Congress against Lance, ran repeated TV ads of Lance’s face interposed with that of Bush.  Lance won by nine percentage points.

“But Christie’s different than Lance because Lance didn’t become an assemblyman and senator because George Bush picked him,” said Dworkin. “Christie became U.S. Attorney because George Bush did.”

The main strand of the Bush-Christie connection hinges on what for Palatucci was a fortuitous encounter with the younger Bush as the then-Texas governor geared up for his 2000 presidential campaign.

At that point, Palatucci’s relationship with the Bushes was already long and recurring, and it was in his role as the New Jersey chief of the presidential campaigns of Bush’s father that he developed a relationship with the younger Bush.

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The Back Room

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 19th

NBC News: Federal charges ruled out for Christie in Bridgegate scandal NBC News tonight is reporting that federal investigators say after nine months of investigating Bridgegate there is 'no evidence" that Gov. Chris Christie had advance knowledge about any politically motivated scheme around the bridge lane closures at the...

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Op-Ed

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 >

Contributors

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 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

“The fact is that they’ve been digging around for eight months now and have found absolutely nothing. Wrap up your work. Do your job." - Gov. Chris Christie

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