Brian Levine

ELEC must choose two of three suitors for GOP debate sponsorship

Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) Executive Director Fred Hermann calls it "Selection Tuesday."

The commission, which requires all candidates who receive public campaign funds to participate in two debates, will farm out the hosting of the Republican gubernatorial primary debate to two applicants on Tuesday, April 7.

Three television stations that are partnered with newspapers, civic groups and a public university have applied for the two spots. 

In one corner are the ABC affiliates from New York and Philadelphia, who applied to host the debate along with the League of Women Voters of New Jersey.  In another is My9, whose reach is limited to the New York media market but has the added heft of being partnered with the state's two biggest dailies: The Star-Ledger and The Record, and William Paterson University.  Finally, there's NJN, working in collaboration with The Asbury Park Press and The Philadelphia Inquirer - which has hosted an ELEC gubernatorial debate each year since the commission started requiring them in 1989.

So far, it looks like only two candidates will be eligible to participate: former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie and former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan.  The other three, Assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Mendham), Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine and entrepreneur David Brown, are not likely to raise the $340,000 necessary to qualify for public financing, making them ineligible to participate.

Christie, who as the frontrunner in the race might stand to benefit by facing more candidates than just his closest rival, said that he would like to see the other three Republican candidates participate as well.

"I can tell you how difficult it is to raise money out there, and I don't think money should be involved in the decision at all," he said.  "I've watched Rick Merkt, Brian Levine and Dave Brown travel all over the state."

The ELEC commissioners will consider a number of factors in picking the two winners, according to Hermann: the networks' audience reach, pre-debate publicity, time slots, audience selection (if there is an audience) and geography.

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Merkt beats Levine in Somerset

The news out of the Somerset County Republican convention tonight was that Assemblyman Rick Merkt (R-Mendham) finished in third place, far ahead of favorite son Brian Levine, the Mayor of Franklin Township.  Merkt received 28 votes, and just ten votes were cast for Levine.   There are 94 County Committee seats in Franklin, though it was not reported how many seats are filled and how many attended tonight's convention.

Christie was endorsed today by Levine's home town GOP Municipal Chairman, Bob LaCorte.

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Christie wins decisively in Somerset

At the end of this GOP convention cycle - a process that has been mostly public agony for those gubernatorial candidates not named Chris Christie - the Somerset County Republican Committee will back the former U.S. Attorney.

Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan showed he has some legs left here as the candidates head beyond the county committee processes (with the sole convention of Hunterdon remaining next Tuesday) on their way to connect with voters prior to the June Primary. 

But Christie still dusted him.

At the organization's convention in Bridgewater tonight, Christie received 204 votes, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan received 56 votes, Assemblyman Richard Merkt got 28, Franklin Mayor Brian D. Levine 10, and inventor David Brown 1.

In a contested freeholder race, the committee will go to a second ballot vote to decide between Bernards Committeeman John Carpenter and Bridgewater Council President Pat Scaglione.

Either Carpenter or Scaglione will run with incumbent Freeholder Jack Ciattarelli. 

Former prosecutor Thomas Roughneen is out.

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The build-up to a Somerset victory

The build-up to a Somerset victory

BRIDGEWATER – Here are the GOP gubernatorial candidates and a murmur running through the crowd already sounds like a coordinated build up to what will result in a sustained cheer for a winner as these formalities are meanwhile settled with two-minute apiece pitches.

Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan walks to the front of the room at the Elks Club. 

It’s not his crowd. He starts off on a high plain, going to currency issues in a speech he caps with a diss of President Barack Obama that rings in the room like a sure applause line at this Somerset County Republican Convention.

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Is today the last day of Levine's campaign for Governor?

Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine will seek the support of his home county tonight as Somerset County Republicans meet to award the organization line in the Republican gubernatorial contest. But Levine must compete without the help of his own municipal chairman, Bob LaCorte, who endorsed former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie for Governor today.   Freeholder Bob Zaborowski, a former Mayor of Franklin, also endorsed Christie.

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GOP debates likely to be Christie vs. Lonegan, without Merkt or Levine; competition for debate sponsorship

Candidates for Governor who receive public financing are required to participate in two debates before the primary election.  Unless Assemblyman Rick Merkt (R-Mendham), Franklin Mayor Brian Levine, or inventor David Brown can show that they have raised and spent $340,000 by next Monday, the GOP primary debate will be a two-man contest between former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie and former Bogota Mayor Steven Lonegan.

There will be no Democratic primary debate, since Gov. Jon Corzine is not taking public financing and former Glen Ridge Mayor Carl Bergmanson is not likely to raise and spent $340,000 by April 6.

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Christie wins Atlantic, Salem

Chris Christie won the endorsement of the Atlantic County Republican organization tonight, defeating Steve Lonegan by a vote of 932-207, 81%-18%.  Rick Merkt received four votes and one vote was cast for Brian Levine.

Christie also won the Salem County GOP convention, but the local organization has declined to release vote totals. 

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Levine won't quit: says poor totals to date won't affect advance of his campaign

Levine won't quit: says poor totals to date won't affect advance of his campaign

With his county convention vote totals adding up to less than 1% of all those cast, GOP gubernatorial candidate Franklin Twp. Mayor Brian D. Levine would appear to be at a serious gut check point in his campaign, particularly as he heads into Thursday night’s committee vote in his home county of Somerset.

But Levine has no intention of standing down – neither before nor after the Somerset convention.

“I’m in it,” Levine told on Sunday night. “Unfortunately, it’s tax season and as a CPA I’ve had to be focused on that more than I would have liked. If I did it again (mount a gubernatorial campaign), might I farm out some business in order to spend more time connecting with committee people? Yes, I think so. Hopefully, I’m a quick study."

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Christie wins Middlesex with 77.6%

Christie wins Middlesex with 77.6%

FORDS –  Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie won his 14th Republican organization endorsement for governor today, winning the line in heavily Democratic Middlesex County.  

“We’re going to work very hard here not only in the governor’s race, but every race here up and down the ticket, because it is time to bring back Republican values to Middlesex County,” said Chrsitie.  

Christie got 462 votes to former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan’s 122, Assemblyman Rick Merkt’s (R-Mendham) six, inventor David Brown’s four and Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine’s one.  

The convention took place at The Royal Albert’s Palace, a cavernous Indian-theme hall  where the two ornately decorated elephants above the podium weren’t originally intended to evoke the GOP, but served that purpose anyway.    

Unlike other county conventions, this one was open, with any registered Republican from Middlesex County – not just committeemen and women –able to pay a $10 fee and cast a vote.  Campaigns could even pay for their own delegates.  That gave Christie rival Steve Lonegan, whose campaign has often complained of a biased convention process, an opportunity to turn out his supporters en masse.  But Lonegan campaign officials said they didn't campaign much harder here than anywhere else.

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The Back Room

The Norcross State Senate Seat: two names in the game, sources say

Democratic Party sources say the party organization has not positioned the successor to state Sen. Donald Norcross (D-5), who's running to succeed U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-1) - but there are at least two names circulating as possible choices.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: October 1st

Bergen County Freeholder forum mostly convivial, but at times confrontational TEANECK - The Bergen County freeholder forum on Tuesday night was a relatively collegial affair until the final two minutes on the 90-minute event. Republican freeholder candidate Robert Avery, flanked by fellow GOP freeholder candidate Bernadette Coghlan-Walsh, referred to...


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 >


(10-1-14) Mayor Fulop’s Working Family Rebellion Spreads - What began as a commitment between Mayor Steve Fulop and the people of Jersey City is fast becoming a movement spreading... more »
In tribute to John Sheridan, a good and great man     I first learned late last night from television news that John P. Sheridan, Jr. and his wife, Joyce had... more »
(Trenton, NJ) --  On September 23, 2015 I shall dig this up and eat whatever crow I've got coming, but in the meantime only a listicle... 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

"I see Loretta Weinberg in the back of the room. Loretta, you have my eternal admiration for what you did to rid the Democratic Party of a certain political boss. However, not everyone shares that distinction." - Bergen County Republican Freeholder candidate Robert Avery

- PolitickerNJ


Which of these "Mount Rushmore of Corruption" states deserves the centerpiece?:


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