Davis still stung by Lonegan's targeting of Asselta

Last year, Americans for Prosperity, a taxpayer advocacy group headed up by former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, targeted then- Republican state Sen. Nicholas Asselta for supporting paid family leave.

Now, as Lonegan seeks the Republican nomination for governor, that could hurt Lonegan’s chance at winning support in Atlantic County.

“As a Republican County chairman, I question why someone who wants to be our gubernatorial candidate would go out of his way to spend money against a Republican, as opposed to spending those resources to grow our Republican Party in this state.  That’s something I want to sit down and talk to Steve about,” said Atlantic County Republican Chairman Keith Davis.  “We have to stop shooting at each other and start shooting at the opposition.”

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Some county chairs keep their gubernatorial options open -- for now

With the 2009 gubernatorial field still far from settled, the majority of Republican county chairs PolitickerNJ spoke to today refused to commit absolutely to anyone, though many said they leaned toward Christie.

Monmouth County Republican Chairman Joe Oxley would not formally endorse Christie before he even entered the race, but said he was hopeful that he would jump in.

“At this point I think that clearly everybody’s anticipating, hoping and expecting that Chris may very well enter the race. I certainly can tell you he’s a personal friend, and I think he’s got broad support in Monmouth County,” he said.   

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Some county chairs let Christie know they're there for him

Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie has not declared his gubernatorial candidacy yet, but without even personally pleading his case to anyone, he has already rolled up the support of several GOP chairmen -- some from heavily Republican counties.

George Gilmore, the Republican chairman of Ocean County, will personally endorse Christie if he decides to enter the race, as will his counterparts John Sette in Morris County and Doug Steinhardt in Warren County. Some other Republican chairs are circumspect about committing this early in the process, but say they lean towards Christie.

“Now this is my personal statement obviously, but I think Chris Christie, if he is desirous of running for governor, offers the best opportunity for the Republican Party to win a statewide election next year against Gov. Corzine,” said Gilmore.

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Christie says give him four to six weeks

Christie says give him four to six weeks
Chris Christie today in Newark.

NEWARK - Thirteen hours after he strode out of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the last time, a familiar Essex County scene unfolded here on another street in the Central Ward, where Chris Christie stood in front of a bank of microphones in a packed room at the Essex County Hall of Records.

After seven years of fingering corrupt politicians and putting them behind bars, Christie this afternoon allowed friends in that same, often troubled, public profession to shower him with some local love.

In a pull-out-all-the-stops event complete with Bruce Springsteen soundtrack and tears on cheeks as Christie struck a gratified and reflective mood, Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and his staff heaped gifts and kind words on the crimebuster - one day after his resignation from office.

Trying to break through the bear-hugging Christie and DiVincenzo after the ceremony, reporters crowded the likely GOP gubernatorial candidate and prodded him about whether he intends to run  against incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine.

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Codey picks Madden for labor committee chair

Codey picks Madden for labor committee chair
State Sen. Frederick Madden (D-Washington Twp.) will be the new Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee.

Senate President Dick Codey (D-West Orange) has tapped state Sen. Fred Madden (D-Washington Township) to chair the Labor Committee.

State Sen. Sandra B. Cunningham (D-Jersey City) has been named vice-chair.

The chairmanship opened up after former Chairman Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) was named to replace state Sen. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) as chair of the judiciary committee. Adler was elected last month to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Fred Madden is a natural fit to helm the Senate Labor Committee,” said Codey in a statement. “Clearly he has the experience, having already served as Vice Chair. He also has a demonstrated commitment to laws that protect workers’ rights and foster job growth, the bedrock of a healthy workforce.”

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Breaking a glass ceiling: will New Jersey get a Latino Secretary of Agriculture?

Breaking a glass ceiling: will New Jersey get a Latino Secretary of Agriculture?
The New Jersey Board of Agriculture -- seven men and one woman, all white -- will pick the state's new Secretary of Agriculture when Charles Kuperus retires at the end of the year.

The workers toiling in New Jersey's fields around Vineland are mostly Mexican, and because of that fact, Mayor Bob Romano acknowledges it might help to have a Latino serve as Secretary of Agriculture.

"I think it would be great idea," Romano said in response to the question, "as long as the person has the knowledge. You need somebody who's qualified. That's the main thing. We need someone who's going to be a strong advocate for keeping New Jersey farmers on their farms."

Acknowledging that many migrant workers in New Jersey come from Mexico and Central America, Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) jumped at the suggestion of a Latino state Secretary of Agriculture to succeed Charles Kuperus, who retires at the end of this month.

"I think a Latino would be very good for that position," said the veteran Newark senator.  "I'm sure New Jersey farmers understand the need to bring balance to that position. Diversity is our greatest strength, coupled with a candidate who would bring objectivity to the job."

However, state Board of Agriculture Vice President Robert Matarazzo says the Department of Agriculture - salvaged from the budget chopping block last year - remains in precarious shape in bad economic times. He doesn't see the recruitment of a Latino secretary, or anything else short of industry survival - as a priority.

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Corzine expects to work with state board to pick new Agriculture Secretary

Corzine expects to work with state board to pick new Agriculture Secretary
New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles Kuperus is stepping down at the end of the year. The State Board of Agriculture picks the new Secretary, and then Gov. Jon Corzine will need to sign off on the choice.

As it examines who will succeed state Secretary of Agriculture Charles Kuperus, the New Jersey Board of Agriculture finds itself in the awkward position of trying to negotiate with a governor who last year considered scrapping the department in its current form.

In an effort to save cash, Gov. Jon Corzine wanted to subordinate Agriculture to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), a move universally condemned by stewards of New Jersey's 9,600 working farms, some of whom rumbled down West State Street in tractors of defiance.

The Secretary of Agriculture is the only cabinet appointment not made by the Governor.  The State Constitution gives the appointment power to the Board of Agriculture.  The Governor can that approve or veto their choice.

Having weathered the Highlands Act political war earlier in his career, and lately in a cliffhanger with his off-again, on-again department, Kuperus announced his resignation from overseeing the department's $9.3 million budget, effective at the end of this year.

He says he's not bitter at all, and points out in defense of Corzine that from the beginning he made the budgetary suggestion at the Statehouse, the governor was clear that he was only initiating a public conversation.

"Like anything with respect to public service, you have to be looking ahead," said Kuperus, a farmer, a former Sussex County freeholder and a Republican who was named to the post by Gov. James E. McGreevey after the 2001 election.   "The state has very significant issues. We happen to be a small agency, but one that touches every New Jerseyan's life. Even the Hudson County Board of Freeholders declared that they wanted the Department of Agriculture preserved, in part because we helped them when they had a longhorn beetle outbreak."

In the lead-up to his departure, the eight-member Board of Agriculture - made up of farmers and other agricultural industry reps - is set in the middle of this month to review between 12 and 20 applications from those who wish to be the new secretary, a job that pays $141,000 a year.

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The Back Room

Dems stumble over one another on guv trail as newly mic'd up Murphy joins the fray

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) regaled the crowd tonight gathered for a Middlesex County Democratic Committee fundraiser organized by Chairman Kevin McCabe.

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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

(9-17-14) Viral Video Prompts Questionable NJ Municipal Ordinance -  Socrates said, “While I might disagree with what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say... more »
The Correct Foreign Policy – Neither Fortress America Nor Pax Americana      Last week marked the 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War 2.  It started with the... 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

“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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