Sires: Dems have economic issues and diversity on their side; calls on Obama to pick Clinton

U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) in his new district office in Journal Square.: Politicker photoU.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) in his new district office in Journal Square.: Politicker photo 

JERSEY CITY - The Democrats have the economic argument on their side in this presidential year, in part because they’re more in touch with a broad swathe of the country’s population, argues U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York).

In a small but significant example, Sires says the Republican Party does not have a diverse caucus in the U.S. Congress like the Democrats, and that has made the GOP gradually more isolated.

"When you look at our caucus, you see everyone," says the freshman congressman. "Then you look at the Republicans, and they’re all the same."

It’s a striking snapshot to Sires, who represents many ethnic communities in his 13th Congressional District.

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On ARC, Sires confident he’s on track with feds, now it’s Trenton’s turn

JERSEY CITY - U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) been in Congress for almost two years, and he says his second year was a big improvement on the first, in part because he feels focused in his new job as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

"It takes a while to be effective because it’s very much based on seniority," Sires said of the Congress. "The first year was very difficult. I was new. The entire Democratic Congress was new.

"But I have a mission now," said the freshman congressman. "I still enjoy being on the foreign affairs committee very much, but I also have transportation now and that’s critical. My job is to go after the money for transportation and infrastructure projects."

Sires has confidence he can get federal money for the ARC (Access to the Region’s Core) Tunnel, but he needs the state to get in gear.

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Cryan engages Kyrillos in early gubernatorial proxy fight

In what could turn out to be the first proxy fight of the 2009 race for governor, Democratic State Chairman Joe Cryan chastised State Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Middletown) for his claim that public corruption prosecutions by U.S.Attorney Chris Christie helped end “Christmas Tree” budget items.

"Mr. Kyrillos should get his facts straight and get the story right,” said Cryan. “It was Governor Corzine who did away with Christmas Tree spending and it's Governor Corzine who has reformed other aspects of the budget process, effectively changing spending practices by both political parties for years, if not decades.”

“Christmas tree items” referred to legislative pork, often in the form of last minute expenditures added to the budget for legislators’ pet projects. Corzine vowed to end them for the 2009 budget, while they drew scrutiny and subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney’s office during previous years.

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Rasmussen: Lautenberg breaks 50%

Frank Lautenberg has an 18-point lead over Dick Zimmer in New Jersey's  U.S. Senate contest: Getty Images PhotoFrank Lautenberg has an 18-point lead over Dick Zimmer in New Jersey's U.S. Senate contest: Getty Images Photo
A Rasmussen poll shows Sen. Frank Lautenberg hitting the 50% mark that pundits say is so crucial for any reelection effort.

The survey puts Lautenberg at 51% to Zimmer’s 33%. That’s up two points for Lautenberg last month, when Rasmussen put him at 49% to Zimmer’s 36%. Lautenberg is supported by 78% of the state’s Democrats, while Zimmer is backed by 72% of Republicans. Lautenberg has a commanding lead with the state’s unaffiliated voters, besting Zimmer 45% to 28%.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama continues to have a high single-digit lead over John McCain.

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With Clean Elections program stumbling, its opponents try to knock it down

TRENTON -- With the future of the Fair and Clean Elections program hanging in the balance and its supporters set to try to negotiate its fate in two weeks, four of its opponents gathered in the State House today to question not only the program's effectiveness, but the sincerity of some of its proponents.

Assembly members Jay Webber (R-Morris Plains) and Allison Littell McHose (R-Franklin) joined Virginia-based Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) President Sean Parnell and Center for Policy Research (CPR) of New Jersey Executive Director Greg Edwards to outline preliminary findings of the CCP's report that they say shows the program has been ineffective in virtually all of its stated goals.

Most notable, according to Parnell, was the fact that special interest groups still appeared to exert large influence in collecting the hundreds of $10 donations needed to participate in the program.

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Menendez in Afghanistan

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez is in Afghanistan today as part of a week-long fact finding mission that will take him to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Germany.  His Afghanistan itinerary included meetings in Kabul with U.S. troops and with President Hamid Karzai.  Menendez, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will return to Washington on Monday.

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Rone exit stirs mild public response at city council meeting

NEWARK - The seat on the far side of the dais was empty.

That’s where Central Ward Councilwoman Dana Rone sat for Newark City Council meetings in the chamber on the second floor of Newark City Hall.

Banned yesterday by an assignment judge from serving on the council now and in the future because of her obstruction of justice conviction, Rone was nowhere to be found on the premises.

But the public comment segment of today’s meeting brought forth some commentary on the situation that West Ward Councilman Ronald Rice has already said may be a case of "selective prosecution."

Public reaction to Rone’s case included both chastising words for the Council and for the mayor.

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The Back Room

National progressive group backs Watson Coleman in CD12

The Progressive Democrats of America Co-Founder and National Director Tim Carpenter and State Chair Mary Ellen Marino today endorsed Bonnie Watson Coleman for the Democratic nomination in the 12thCongressional District.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 24, 2014

Organization to honor Gov. KeanAn event next month for Community Options, Inc. will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the organization's founding and honor Governor Tom Kean, Sr., a was an advocate over 25 years ago for bringing individuals with developmental disabilities out of state institutions into small group homes.Robert...

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Op-Ed

How the City of Paterson became a city in crisis

By HAYTHAM YOUNES As the May 13th election for Paterson officials nears, I've noticed a lot of candidates running using slogans and empty promises as if they weren't around watching Paterson get to where it's at today. I think it's important that... Read More >

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

"This is the only Tea Party group that endorsed Mitt Romney. These guys are the Vichy French of the Tea Party movement. They're the guys who say 'Viva la France,' and then you can't find them when the fighting starts. Come on." - GOP strategist Rick Shaftan, on the Independence Hall Tea Party group.

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