A Conversation with the Senate President

There are two qualities that every politician has that are often in conflict.

First, there’s the ability to compromise and find common ground to attain results. Second, there’s the strength in sticking to ones principles, regardless of the outcome.

A good leader is able to balance those qualities. And naturally, he or she is both praised and vilified, often by the same people.

Lyndon Johnson was one who excelled at the political game. He was an ardent champion of Civil Rights and his Great Society approach to health care and education. But his prosecution of an unpopular war cost him another term in the White House.

Senate President Steve Sweeney reminds me of Johnson. Sweeney knows how to play the political game to further the causes he believes in and knows when to compromise to make things better but not perfect.

Chris Christie is another master of the political game but there’s a significant difference between the two men. I believe that Sweeney has empathy for the people of New Jersey, despite some of his actions that rile many Blue Jersey readers. Christie scores a big ZERO on the empathy meter.

I sat down with Sweeney in the State House this morning to get his views on a number of issues and to get him to answer the pressing question “Do you do your own tweets?”

I was disappointed by this response to my question about the Pinelands pipeline. We’re both South Jersey residents, and the Pinelands is a treasure that we should pass on to future generations. But Sweeney was unwilling to unilaterally condemn the pipeline. Let’s hope he manages to find a way to guarantee the pristine environment that is being challenged by the energy companies.

Sweeney was also generous with his praise of Majority Leader Weinberg. Could we see a Sweeney/Weinberg ticket in 2017?

Comments (29)

  1. interested observer

    wide ranging interview with lots of questions asked…

    Reply
  2. firstamend07

    Sweeney gets Chrisite to compromise. He has to get a huge amount of credit for that.

    Christie would be Scott Walker  x2 without Sweeney being Senate President.

    What would the Court look like?

    Minimum wage.

    ME.

    DREAM ACT.

    Medical marijuana.

    The truth is that a LOT got done DESPITE Chrisite being Governor and Steve Sweeney gets the credit!

    Reply
  3. Babs NJSD

    Posts a “technical” LGBT related bill to a vote and with Loretta in the hospital he can’t bring 21 Democratic votes? We needed a couple of Republican votes that came on to save it … they came on not at Sweeney’s behest. Where was he? Is this what you call leadership? Is this what you compare to LBJ? If it is … G-d bless you! … and I wish that some day you take a trip to Austin, TX and visit the LBJ Library.

    Reply
  4. Nick Lento

    …Chris Christie.   But that’s a damned low bar.

    Reply
  5. keepitreal

    He is not polished enough to know how to control his bully tendencies. He reminds you of the old union leaders who were more into knocking heads than engaging in meaningful discussions. As best I can tell, Sweeney truly cares about two issues; people with disabilities, as he has a daughter with Downs Syndrome, and the private unions, as he belongs to one. Other than that, his views are more Republican than Democratic. His spiteful ways have made him a lot of enemies. That is why I feel comfortable in saying that he will never be governor.    

    Reply

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