In 2017 Governor Murphy’s progressive agenda won support of 1,203,110 citizens while Senator Sweeney won the support of 31,822 citizens. As a result one might think that Murphy would exert considerably more sway over government. Indeed, former Governor Christie with his two victories took on a commanding role, negotiating with Democrats when necessary but frequently obtaining the results he desired.
It was no surprise in 2018 that although both the executive and legislative branches were under Democratic leadership, there would still be disagreements. Indeed there were such arguments during the period when Democratic Governor Corzine and the Democrats controlled the Legislature.
However, in this current Game of Thrones Senator Sweeney retains one huge advantage. He operates under the leadership of George Norcross, an unelected Political Boss, with tentacles in and beyond South Jersey. In addition, as Senate President, only Sweeney decides which bills come to the floor for a vote. He can favor those his boss wants, and spend time preventing some of Murphy’s progressive agenda.
It is now that we have the best opportunity to end the scourge of this political boss. In the most recent development yesterday, as reported by POLITICO, Gov. Phil Murphy refused to sign legislation that would require “dark money” political organizations to disclose their donors. One of the proposed changes in the governor’s conditional veto of the bill, NJ S1500 (18R), is almost certainly a shot at South Jersey Democratic power broker George Norcross by requiring companies that receive tax incentives to have stricter campaign donation disclosure requirements.
In a Philly Inquirer opinion piece Will Brunch says, “Under George Norcross’ autocratic rule, Camden has become a full-blown kleptocracy.” He points out “Suddenly, hard questions are being asked about a report that firms in some way linked to Norcross and his family sucked up an astounding $1.1 billion of Camden’s $1.6 billion from the state job-creation program, and about what was claimed to get that money.”
The Murphy-commissioned probe has clearly upset Norcross who is now in full-battle mode. He lashed out at the governor and even his adviser-wife, Tammy.
Nonetheless, as many as 100 progressive challengers to the Norcross machine did make the June primary ballot last year in Camden County. Sue Altman, a community activist, and now state director of the progressive New Jersey Working Families, has been a vocal critic. Another critic is activist Keith Benson, head of the Camden Education Association teachers’ union, who is fighting the latest school scheme. There are many more seeking to dethrone the boss.
In recent episodes of Game of Thrones we have seen the autocratic Daenerys Targaryen’s fall from grace. She is told, “They won’t obey you unless they fear you.” It is time to stop fearing Norcross because he likewise is falling from grace. We now have an opportunity which we should seize – support our governor and speak out forcefully against the deleterious power of Norcross. Our very democracy in New Jersey deserves no less.