The ghost of Sharpe James

The ghost of Sharpe James
Former Newark Mayor Sharpe James, headed to prison, is still a key figure in city politics

NEWARK - When Cory Booker toppled the old regime of Sharpe James and turned James’s most visible allies out of City Hall, the former mayor’s friends began plotting a comeback.

Now James is in a federal penitentiary serving time for fraud - and the deposed politician’s forces  believe they’re closer than ever to defeating Booker in Newark.

Recognized by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Il.) as a rising star, a statewide phenomenon and an orator who at his best makes Obama sound like a blandly serviceable warm-up act, Booker nonetheless faces political trouble at the local level, in each of the city’s five wards.

The mayor will not publicly acknowledge political turmoil.

 “As long as crime is down, it’s a good day for me,” he says.

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Going all out in Monmouth County

In Monmouth County, every town comes intriguingly into play on some level, several more critically than others.

Republicans have owned the Freeholder Board for over 20 years, but in the last two elections Democrats picked up two seats to bring them to within one of county control.

A profusion of newly registered Democratic voters have boosted the party’s confidence heading into Nov. 4th, and now Democrats Amy Mallet and Glenn Mason are ready for that 11th hour jolt of cash from the Democratic State Committee.

State Party Chairman Joseph Cryan wants to win here.

He wants it more than he would like to pick up additional warm bodies in the Assembly next year, where his party’s already built a comfortable majority.

A victory by either Mallet or Mason would make a Democratic Party statement.  But neither is a name candidate running against incumbent Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and auto dealer vice president John Curley, an intensely focused campaigner who served as a Red Bank Councilman and has close political connections to state Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth).

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With one full week left, 3rd and 7th House races still biggest flashpoints

Third Congressional

To the most hardened observer of New Jersey politics, the 3rd Congressional District race offers little more than the inevitable collision of two powerful forces in this conservative, military family values stronghold, which runs up to the edges of Democratic Party bulwark Camden County to the south.

It appears to be a classic case of military industrial complex versus party machine, as Republican Chris Myers, a $250,000-a-year earning Republican executive at Lockheed Martin, battles Harvard-educated career Trentonian state Sen. John Adler (D-Camden) for a seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Jim Saxton (R-Burlington).

Assembly Speaker – and Adler compatriot -Joe Roberts (D-Camden) argues that the only way South Jersey ever stood a chance of exerting influence statewide was to bind together.

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New York Times endorses Lautenberg

The New York Times endorsed Frank Lautenberg for a sixth term in the U.S. Senate today, lauding him for doubling Amtrak’s annual budget and being an “effective champion of banning smoking on domestic airlines and in other public places.”

The paper, however, did chastise Lautenberg for agreeing to only one televised debate.

“New Jersey voters deserved a better race this year than the nearly invisible contest between Senator Frank Lautenberg and Richard Zimmer, his Republican challenger,” read the first line of the endorsement.

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In long-shot quest, Zimmer can’t count on the media

In long-shot quest, Zimmer can’t count on the media
Former U.S. Rep. Dick Zimmer is challenging four-term U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg
Even if the New Jersey print media industry was thriving, former U.S. Rep. Dick Zimmer would still probably be a long-shot in his quest for incumbent Frank Lautenberg’s U.S. Senate seat.

But for a politician whose biggest problem this whole campaign cycle has been has lack of name recognition, the fact that most of the Garden State’s home-grown media outlets are on life support has made getting his name out there that much more difficult, Zimmer said today.

“In previous elections, I’d have Jim Goodman just bugging the hell out of me from The Trenton Times. I don’t believe I’ve been covered by the Trenton Times yet. Maybe the time I campaigned in Hamilton in Septemberfest, but I’m not sure about that,” he said in a phone interview today (Goodman was a casualty of Newhouse’s decision to combine the Statehouse bureaus of The Star-Ledger and Trenton Times last year).

Zimmer, who was plucked out of relative obscurity as a lobbyist in Washington to fill in for the beleaguered and three-week-old candidacy of Goya heir Andy Unanue, is severely trailing in the polls against Lautenberg. But that may have more to do with Zimmer’s visibility than Lautenberg’s winning campaign style. In a Monmouth University/Gannett poll released earlier this week, Lautenberg led 52 percent to 36 percent, but the most telling number with two weeks to the election at the time the poll was taken: 56 percent of voters still didn’t know who Dick Zimmer was.

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New York Times endorses Adler, Lance, Shulman

The New York Times today endorsed two Democrats and one Republican in New Jersey’s three hot congressional races.

The Times picked State Sen. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) over Republican Medford Mayor Chris Myers in the 3rd Congressional district, writing that he “is a thoughtful, moderate Democrat who has helped ban smoking and curb predatory lending.”

But the paper, a frequent target of Republicans, picked State Sen. Leonard Lance (R-Flemington) over Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Fanwood) in the 7th District, writing that both are “excellent candidates,” but that Lance’s “leadership qualities and his voice of moderation are needed now in Congress and in the Republican Party.” 

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40% decrease in Star-Ledger newsroom

The Star-Ledger said that they have accepted 151 newsroom buyout offers and will continue with 40% less staff by the end of the year. Seventeen buyout requests were turned down. Publisher George Arwady, who gets credit for saving the state's largest newspaper, said that the departues will be staggered. In an e-mail to employees, Editor Jim Willse said his new challenge is to "figure out a way to make a good newspaper with a 40% smaller staff."

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The Back Room

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: August 29th

Belmar mayor's race: a wave of post-Sandy project politics stirs up seaside Monmouth borough BELMAR - When Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty rolled out his re-election campaign in February, he did so still basking in the glow of what many residents of the 6,000-person Monmouth County seaside borough saw...

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Op-Ed

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 >

Contributors

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

"Christie’s method for coping with scandal has been more complicated. In January, the seemingly-local issue of lane closings on the George Washington Bridge, which created a massive traffic jam in the Hudson River town of Fort Lee, became one of national interest when it was revealed that one of Christie’s closest staffers had ordered them—for what looked like political retribution against a Democratic mayor. The scandal was quickly dubbed 'Bridgegate,' and unfortunately for Christie, it played into his reputation as a bully. Christie's response was to act unlike himself: humble." - Olivia Nuzzi

- The Daily Beast

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