Bill Baroni

Source: Kanka gearing up for legislature run

Source: Kanka gearing up for legislature run
Credit: source: Getty Images Photo
Richard Kanka

Richard Kanka, the father of Megan Kanka, the little girl whose murder 17 years ago by a twice convicted pedophile became the impetus for Megan’s law, is gearing up for a run at the state legislature, a Mercer County Republican source told PolitickerNJ.

Kanka, who is a school board member in Hamilton, has the blessing of the county and state party, the source said. 

Kanka’s name has been mentioned for both the state assembly and the state senate, but Mercer Republicans would like to see him headline the ticket as the senate candidate.

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Port Authority opens in Shanghai and London; Baroni credited on bridge

Port Authority opens in Shanghai and London; Baroni credited on bridge
Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni

BAYONNE - Having just committed $1 billion to raise the Bayonne Bridge, “The Port Authority was created for this,” said Anthony Coscia, chairman of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Before, “The ships were virtually fighting with each other in the harbor.”

He credited the agency for port stabilization, river dredging, and a $600 million rail system. And today, the Bayonne Bridge.

“People around the world are watching what we do,” Coscia said of the project, which should preserve jobs and reincarnate “the premier port on the east coast of the United States.”

The Panama Canal widening that precipitated the raising was approved by Panamanian voters in 2006, so this wasn’t news. “We knew it,” said Coscia. “So why is it that we waited until today? Because we needed leadership,” Coscia said. “I’m glad that this governor understands that.”

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Legislative specials

There will be two special elections for State Senate in November: in district 5, where Democrat Dana Redd resigned in January to become the mayor of Camden, and in district 14, where Republican Bill Baroni left to become the Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  Both races will be to fill the remaining fourteen months of the current terms.

Redd was replaced by Donald Norcross , a South Jersey labor leader who had been elected to the State Assembly in November.  Norcross will face Republican Harry Trout, who works as a wine consultant.  Norcross is the overwhelming favorite to win the special election.

Baroni’s replacement is Republican Thomas Goodwin, who gave up his Hamilton Township Council seat to serve in the Senate last month.  Goodwin faces six-term Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein in what might be one of the premier campaigns of the year in a politically competitive district.

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Goodwin picks up Baroni ethics reform bills

Goodwin picks up Baroni ethics reform bills
State Sen. Thomas Goodwin (R-Hamilton)

State Sen. Thomas Goodwin (R-Hamilton) says he’ll take over the sponsorship of several ethics reforms bills that had been introduced by his predecessor, Bill Baroni, including a prohibition on campaign contributions by public contract holders.

Goodwin was elected to the Senate last month after Baroni left to become Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  The new Senator says he has also become the sponsor of a bill that would stop campaign contributions from anyone involved in eminent domain proceedings.

“Although New Jersey has a long history of political corruption, it’s something that we can prevent from continuing,” said Goodwin. “Most importantly, these reforms will help eliminate the ‘corruption tax’ that adds to the cost of government and every resident’s tax bill.”

Goodwin’s legislative portfolio also includes Baroni’s proposals to increase the statute of limitations on political corruption crimes from five to seven years, and a constitutional amendment to suspend elected officials under indictment.

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North Ward vaudeville: Adubato event features D's and more than a few R's in Christie era

North Ward vaudeville: Adubato event features D's and more than a few R's in Christie era
From left at the North Ward Center on Friday evening: Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford), State Democratic Chair John Wisniewski, and State Republican Chair Jay Webber

NEWARK - That fragile world of political decorum - sustained by public egos keeping one another in check, rituals of politeness and restraint suppressing everyone's underworld of agony and envy - crashed inexorably Friday night at the North Ward Center as it does annually.

"I've been speaker for 73 days, and it feels like it's been 73 years," admitted Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange). "I'm only dealing with a Republican governor, a senate president who thinks he's a Republican governor, a majority leader who thinks he's the speaker, a minority leader who insists on calling me dear, an out-of-control deficit, and unions who want to run me out of town." 

Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) doubled over with laughter in a crowd crammed alike with the aging and cherubic faces of older operatives and political crumbums, and those connected to the new axis of power, including Sweeney, Oliver, DCA Commissioner Lori Grifa, and state Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Red Bank).

Towering side by side in the crowd stood State Republican Chairman Jay Webber and State Democratic Chairman John Wisniewski, studiously paralyzed, grinning like gunfighters glad they don't have to draw as the barbs flew all around them.

"This event always gives us a chance to see Republicans no one's ever heard of, like, uh, what's his name...? - Goodwin - Tom Goodwin," said staccato Steve Adubato, Jr., to which Goodwin gave a sheepish wave.

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With Mercer victory, Greenstein seals Dems' backing for Dist. 14 run against Goodwin

With Mercer victory, Greenstein seals Dems' backing for Dist. 14 run against Goodwin

The Mercer County Democratic Committee on Saturday unanimously endorsed Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) as their candidate for senate in the 14th District. 

Last week, the veteran assemblywoman received the backing of the other half of her party in her home county as the Middlesex County Democratic Committee endorsed her by acclimation.

With both counties formally locked up now, Greenstein is the Democrats' official candidate to run against state Sen. Tom Goodwin (R-Hamilton) in a November special election.

Goodwin last Monday assumed the oath of office to fill the seat vacated by former Sen. Bill Baroni, Christie's choice to serve as deputy director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. 

In her speech yesterday, Greenstein went directly at Gov. Chris Christie's Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal.

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Greenstein wins Dem Party backing in Middlesex

Greenstein wins Dem Party backing in Middlesex
Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) with her husband, Michael.

EDISON - Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) tonight won the unanimous backing of the Middlesex County Democratic Committee for the 14th District Senate seat occupied yesterday by Tom Goodwin of Hamilton.

Sen. Goodwin assumed the seat with the departure of former state Sen. Bill Baroni, Gov. Chris Christie's choice to serve as deputy director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

On a single line shout-out from County Chairman Joe Spicuzzo that included U.S. Rep, Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), U.S. Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell Twp.), and U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York), Greenstein won the support of the party to face Goodwin in a November special election to succeed Baroni.

Greenstein next will go before the Mercer County Democratic Committee, where she is expected to receive her party's full support in the other participating county in the 14th Legislative District. 

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Goodwin elected to State Senate

Goodwin elected to State Senate

HAMILTON -- Hamilton Council President Tom Goodwin was elected the interim state senator for the 14th Legislative District tonight, beating out former assemblywoman Barbara Wright for the seat of Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton).

Goodwin got 75 votes to Wright’s 31 among Republican county committee members from the distirct’s seven towns in Mercer and Middlesex County.  State Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield), who was on hand to give Goodwin his official state senator pin, said Goodwin will be sworn in on Monday.  He will have toseek reelection in the June primary and November general election, most likely against Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro).  That race is expected to be one of this year’s most competitive and expensive.

The two Republicans made their pitch at a catering hall where the Mercer GOP regularly holds events. Both describing themselves as conservative and pro-life.Voter turnout was about 53%, with 106 of 199 Republican County Committee members voting.   As of last week, Mercer had 136 of 168 seats filled, and Middlesex had 63 of 172. 

Goodwin told the crowd that Hamilton faced a similar fiscal bind that the state is in now two years ago.

“Our former mayor took our municipal to the brink of economic collapse. But just like Governor Christie is doing right now, we took action,” he said, adding that under Republican leadership they transformed a budget deficit into a surplus.

Wright played down her defeat by Greenstein in 1999, arguing that the Republican Party is better positioned than it was a decade ago.  She also argued that it was important to run another woman against Greenstein, and that she has stayed involved on the policy front, most recently managing the state Nurses Association.

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New Senator to be elected tonight

Today is Election Day in the 14th district, where Republican County Committee members from seven towns in Mercer and Middlesex counties will hold a special election convention for State Senator.  Hamilton Councilman Thomas Goodwin and former Assemblywoman Barbara Wright (D-Plainsboro) will compete to fill the seat of Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton), who resigned earlier this month to take a post at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  The winner is expected to take office next week, in time for Gov. Christopher Christie’s budget address before a joint session of the Legislature.

The Mercer portion of the district (Hamilton and West Windsor) has a substantial edge in the number of filled County Committee seats, making Goodwin the front runner for tonight’s vote.  Goodwin has also won endorsements from key Middlesex Republicans, including the GOP County Chairman.  The 76-year-old Wright, who represented the district from 1992 to 2000, has been going door-to-door in Mercer in an attempt to pick off Goodwin votes.

The likely Democratic nominee, Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) has beaten both Wright and Goodwin.  Greenstein unseated Wright by 1,238 votes in 1999, and beat her by 5,075 votes in a 2001 rematch.  In 2007, Greenstein defeated Goodwin by 3,968 votes; Goodwin lost to Wayne DeAngelo (D-Hamilton) by 821 votes.

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Wright says she'll fill county committee seats

Wright says she'll fill county committee seats
Former Assemblywoman Barbara Wright (R-Plainsboro)

Former Assemblywoman Barbara Wright (D-Plainsboro) said that Middlesex Republicans plan to fill vacant 14th District county committee seats in advance of Thursday’s convention, where Wright running to fill the seat of former state Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Hamilton). 

The Republican committee from Wright’s home town of Plainsboro is meeting tonight, and the 76-year-old Wright said she expects them to fill several of the town’s vacant county committee seats.   

Wright is running against Hamilton Councilman Thomas Goodwin.  If the vote breaks down along geographical lines, Goodwin has a huge advantage: as of last week, 136 of Mercer County’s 168 seats were filled, while only 63 of Middlesex County’s 172 were filled.  The largest numbers of Mercer County seats are from Goodwin’s home town of Hamilton. 

Wright acknowledged that she’s the underdog based on the seat count but said that she has been reaching out to committee men and women from both of the district’s counties, and that she will be able to appeal to Mercer County voters because she represented them for eight years. 

“To be honest, I’d rather do this than a primary.  This is a smaller group and I’ve been reaching out directly,” she said.

Although Wright has the support of the municipal chairs from all of the legislative district’s Middlesex County towns, Goodwin today announced the endorsement of former Rossmoor Republican Club President Sidna Mitchell, a former Monroe Township Republican chairwoman who ran for assembly in 2003 and narrowly lost to incumbent Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro). 

“We need to make sure Middlesex County has a true advocate for the issues we care most about,” said Mitchell, who ran for the State Assembly in 2003.  “No one will work harder for us, or more effectively, than Tom Goodwin."

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The Back Room

Bonnie and the Lonny Factor

Rolled out this week as the finance chair of Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman's (D-15) 12th District Congressional Campaign, Trenton attorney Lionel "Lonnie" Kaplan arrives with an unusual asterisk alongside his public endorsement record for someone burnished as a Democratic Primary weapon.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: April 18, 2014

Fulop endorses Smith in Bayonne mayoral raceBAYONNE - Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop parachuted into the Bayonne mayoral race on Thursday night by endorsing incumbent Mayor Mark Smith."It is a pleasure to be with you here, Mark," said Fulop to a crowd of more than 125 supporters at a...


Paterson can flourish with a second chance

By ASLON GOOW, SR. I have spent the past three decades raising a family, building a business, and working to improve our Paterson communities.  I am proud of those accomplishments.  In 2002, I spoke at an expungement... Read More >


(4-16-14) New Jersey Vote By Mail Law - The voter turnout for New Jersey’s November gubernatorial election was the lowest since the days of prohibition, coming... more »
When it comes to profiling Christie, facts are for wussies (4/10/14) - As the national media stories on our Guv pile up, expect more blunders about the Garden State.... more »
This week I begin a series called Dispatches from Somewhere Else. Based on my on-going experiences as an everyman in New Jersey politics, these Dispatches review the hollowness of... more »
Watching Governor Chris Christie's shocking BridgeGate implosion, it's easy to forget the time when he truly seemed unstoppable.  Blessed with incredible political gifts and a Jersey bluster to match,... more »

Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

"This is my first Mark Smith event. There have been a lot of changes in Hudson County over the last year and a half, and the most important change that has happened is that there really is unity. For the first time, we really are working together. Despite political differences. Mark and I have worked very hard to repair that. I'm really happy to be here in support of him, because I recognize that when you work together, politics becomes secondary and you really have time to focus on government, which is the most important thing." - Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop



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