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 as a star performance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Belmar's boardwalk was rebuilt before Memorial Day last year, supported by an aggressive rebuilding effort directed by Doherty. The reconstruction campaign was fueled in part by a borough-sponsored website that allowed residents and visitors to securely purchase the actual boards that comprise Belmar's new boardwalk.
The boardwalk was rebuilt with the considerable help of Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who met with Democrat Doherty soon after the storm. Doherty continues to tout an approach to local government that has helped Belmar to not raise taxes in the years since Doherty took office in January 2011. But a recent setback related to Sandy recovery has put a pothole in Doherty's heretofore apparently smooth road to re-election.
On Aug. 19, Belmar voters rejected a plan to borrow $7 million to rebuild two beach pavilions that were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. The special vote, which defeated the pavilion proposal by a 1,041 to 756 vote margin, or 57 to 43 percent, was a win for the plan's opponents, who argued that the project could be completed for less by using Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) and insurance moneys. Supporters, however, claimed that the project was worth the expense since the pavilions must be built stronger to hold up to potential future hurricanes.
In an interview with PolitickerNJ, Doherty, who is now considering options provided by Belmar residents regarding the future of the pavilions, took umbrage at the way the "no" side presented their argument. Ken Pringle, a former Belmar mayor and fellow Democrat, played a leading role in the pavilion opposition, sending out a letter shooting down Doherty's plan just before the referendum vote. The letter, the production and distribution of which was paid for by Pringle and his wife, left Doherty particularly miffed.Read More >
We all know the story: An amiable, even-keeled doctor, in an effort to separate the good from his darker impulses, concocts and consumes a secret potion that, momentarily, induces a metamorphosis of physical and mental being and turns him into a monstrous and unconscionable brute. Things go OK for a while, the doctor reveling in his cleverness and scientific acumen, but the experiment doesn't last: The doctor soon finds himself unable to control the brute within, changing over more frequently and for longer intervals, until one day he wakes up permanently transfigured and ultimately exacts his own demise.
It's not quite the same problem New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie has, but the allegory that is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde does provide some insight into the evolution of one of the biggest political personalities this side of the 2016 presidential primaries.Read More >
Republican Governors Association Chairman Chris Christie versus Democratic Governors Association Chairman Peter Shumlin
It was hard to escape the optics: Christie zooming down to Arkansas for another campaign event, while Shumlin soaked up victory in his own low-key, low-turnout primary election.
He won re-election last year with over 60% of the vote, got mangled by Bridgegate and now appears unwilling to let the scandal inhibit his brand as he ravenously campaigns countrywide. Chair of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and a prospective 2016 presidential contender, Christie’s breakneck pace through the summer months has taken him to places like Colorado, Illinois, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Iowa, and (today) Arkansas. Occasionally he comes back to New Jersey to stick a boardwalk landing.
For those who don’t know him he’s the governor of Vermont, which, for people who don’t know, is a state located north of New Jersey in the United States, which is the country where both New Jersey and Vermont are located, which gives them something in common. A political animal (by Vermont’s standards), Shumlin was in Montpelier yesterday to celebrate his Democratic Primary win in the Vermont Governor’s race, but says he does not intend to begin campaigning until after Labor Day.Read More >
NEWARK - The school year is set to start next week in the state's largest city, but many Newark residents feel schooled by what they see as a confusing school enrollment plan put in place by the controversial One Newark school reorganization plan.
"I can't find the right school for my kids," said Yahira Mallol of Newark's North Ward on Tuesday afternoon, standing outside of Newark Vocational High School on West Kinney Street moments after she enrolled her daughters, Yarlissa, 15, and Noelia, 11. At this point, Yarlissa has been placed in a North Ward high school, while Noelia could be placed in a South Ward grammar school. "In Georgia, where we used to live, if you come from out of state, you don't have to wait. You just sign up, and you go to school."Read More >
WESTFIELD - The lead campaign strategist for Gov. Chris Christie told PolitickerNJ on Tuesday that, regarding plans for a potential Christie run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, inquiring minds will have to wait.
"I'm not doing any '16 stuff on the record until the '14 elections are over," said Michael DuHaime, a partner at the public strategy firm Mercury Public Affairs, in a phone conversation from his Westfield office. "That's just kind of a rule I've made for myself."Read More >
ROSELLE - Senate President Steve Sweeney said today that he won't stake out a position on Gov. Chris Christie's top pick for the state's next attorney general until the governor actually submits the nomination.
Appearing at a presser in front of the Gordon Street Bridge in Union County to champion recent efforts to raise money for a currently depleted Transportation Trust Fund, Sweeney remained somewhat mum on the subject of a forthcoming nomination for current Christie chief of staff Kevin O'Dowd, saying it's too early to take a stance.
"The governor has to make the nomination and he hasn't done it yet, and once he makes the nomination we can take a position on it. But we can’t make assumptions on if he will or won't," Sweeney said.Read More >
ROSELLE - The Gordon Street Bridge -- a teetering, hundred-year old arch of rusted steel in Union County's Roselle township -- has a sufficiency rating of 22.5 out of 100, making it structurally deficient, by most building standards. Yet it's still used by tens of thousands of commuters who traverse the bridge daily, making their way to and from work.
It's just one example of many deteriorating transportation infrastructure projects in the Garden State in desperate need of repair, according to Senate President Steve Sweeney, who appeared here today to continue his fight to find funding for the state's Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).
"These are the bridges we go over every single day, and we don't think anything of them because we expect the government to ensure our safety as we travel," said Sweeney. "These bridges aren't safe anymore. They need to be addressed."Read More >
FAIR LAWN - On a stop at a Bergen County hardware store, state Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) hit the Democrats with a figurative two-by-four, attacking the recent push for paid sick-leave legislation in New Jersey municipalities.
"The radical Democrats are now competing for the most radical ideas," said Bramnick on Friday, standing next to Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan at Kuiken Brothers Company in downtown Fair Lawn. "They have put on the table a paid sick-leave bill that is now starting to develop in municipalities around the state. In New Jersey, the last thing we need is more regulation on business.
"We know this is a political issue between the left wing of the Democratic Party getting ready for a post-Chris Christie era," Bramnick added. "If we're going to have this era, despite the fact that Chris Christie has three and a half years left as governor, we're going to be in big trouble."
Bramnick's trip to Bergen, New Jersey's most populous county, comes at a time when because of Gov. Christie's increasing national profile as a potential Republican presidential candidate, the 2017 Garden State gubernatorial sweepstakes has begun sooner than usual.
Bramnick is reportedly looking to take the GOP nominee slot, while three Democrats, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, former U.S. ambassador to Germany and ex-Goldman Sachs executive Phil Murphy and state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) are testing the campaign waters on their side of the aisle.Read More >
RED BANK - Joe Kyrillos' perspective on New Jersey politics has roots in his Monmouth County home, but has stretched statewide because of a word critical in Garden State politics: relationships.
The veteran Republican state Senator from the 13th Legislative District, who has served in the Legislature since 1988, has built a network from his Middletown home base that has extended around New Jersey, as evidenced during his unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Bob Menendez in 2012.
Kyrillos' close political and personal alliance with Gov. Chris Christie is well known. The governor even played matchmaker for Kyrillos and his wife, Susan.
In a phone interview with PolitickerNJ from his Red Bank office, Kyrillos, 54, riffed on Republican power in Monmouth, as well as the direction of the GOP in the Chris Christie era.Read More >
JERSEY CITY – Young people are despairing and the Democratic Party provides no hope, said U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8), in a sit down interview Tuesday with PolitickerNJ.
“We are floating on a barge with no direction,” said Sires, the former West New York mayor and Assembly Speaker who whipped Joe Vas of Perth Amboy to win Bob Menendez’s vacant congressional seat.
“I think there’s despair. People see no future. Jobs are limited. I think there’s despair in the air,” said Sires. “Young people are falling into debt. They can’t afford their education. We get calls here all the time.”
Republicans implemented a better redistricting strategy 10 years ago to win statehouses and governorships, Sires said, but the GOP is mired in a fundamental cynical misunderstanding of the role of government in American life.Read More >
Tepid fundraising, underperforming candidates and a lousy party brand are threatening to deprive House Republicans of the sweeping 2014 gains that some top party officials have been predicting this year, according to Politicker alum Alex Isenstadt, now of Politico.Read More >
Campaign season now under way in Bergen County Politics is practiced year-round in Bergen County, and street-level campaigning has been going on quietly all summer. But both Republicans and Democrats say the Rutherford Street Fair on Labor Day signals a more intense phase of electioneering. (Ensslin/The Bergen Record) http://www.northjersey.com/news/campaign-season-now-under-way-in-bergen-county-1.1079080 ...
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 >
"Governor Christie ripped President Obama this summer for failing to carve out some time during a Texas fundraising swing to visit the Mexican border, where the unprecedented flood of immigrant children from Central America had reached a crisis point. ...Yet Christie is not squeezing in a tour of the troubled border during his own three-day trade and diplomatic mission to Mexico, which is set to begin on Wednesday. The governor is planning a series of meetings with Mexican officials, including President Enrique Peña Nieto and the finance and energy ministers." - columnist Charles Stile- The Bergen Record
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