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Morris Board of Freeholders Up for Grabs

Okay, “up for grabs” may be a bit hyperbolic. But still, the announcement that two Republican Freeholders will not be seeking reelection in November is pretty good news. Republican Freeholders Frank Druetzler and Cecilia Laureys may be joined by their colleague John Murphy, who failed to win the GOP nomination for Governor last year. While he’s not committed one way or the other, he’s said that he “believes that one can stay too long in a government job, that you can hang around too long” and that “maybe it’s time” for him to step down.

I don’t have to tell you how Republican Morris County is. But as Blue Jersey readers, I also probably don’t have to tell you that the Democrats have at least one really solid candidate in the county who is well positioned to take one of these two or three seats. I don’t know what she’s thinking about doing, but Dana Wefer has a real shot at making the board a bit more blue.

From The Daily Record:

Democratic chairman Lew Candura said the announcements are “a wonderful opportunity.” In last year’s freeholder race unknown law student Dana Wefer captured 40 percent of the vote against incumbent Republican Margaret Nordstrom, now the board’s director.

A virtual clown car full of Republicans is expected to enter the primaries to replace Druetzler and Laureys. There were reportedly 14 candidates in the GOP primary the last time there was an open seat, and this year will not likely be any different. If the Republican base is depressed enough by their party’s national scandals, there could be a local pickup opportunity here, which would be a great boost for Democrats in the county.

Now if only we could find someone to challenge Frelinghuysen…

Poll: NJ Overwhelmingly Supports Same-Sex Marriage

A new Zogby poll of 802 residents finds that by a 56%-39% margin, New Jerseyans support gay marriage. The poll had a margin of error of +/-3.5%. A similar poll conducted by Zogby in April of 2005 found similar support for gay marriage with 55% favoritng and 40% opposing. The change is well within the margin of error, but confirms the previous poll results.

         Feb 06  Apr 05
For        56%   (55%)
Against    39%   (40%)

The same poll found that 67% of New Jerseyans opposed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Arguments Made Before NJ Supreme Court

While over 100 supporters of same-sex marriage rallied outside, the attorney for the plaintiffs in Lewis v Harris, David Buckel told the court that “what we want for the plaintiffs is the dignity and the worth that the New Jersey constitution protects for all individuals, in terms of their freedom.”

The Assistant Attorney General argued against the plaintiffs claiming that the “state’s ban on gay marriage is based on the ‘historical tradition’ that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

But Justice Deborah Poritz didn’t buy the argument. She responded:

“You say it over and over again. It is an historic fact, as Justice Long has pointed out, that marriage has been defined as between a man and a woman. But there are other historical facts. For a long time women were property in the marriage relationship. For a long time women could not make the claim of rape against the husband. There have been lots of ways in which the traditional ways of marriage, and the relationship in marriage, have changed. So why should we just simply defer to “it’s historical”?

After the hearing, the plaintiffs were hopeful:

The justices reserved their decision until a later date, but after the hearing members of the seven same-sex couples suing the state were near tears with optimism and relief.

“There’s nothing like knowing that you’re close to the win,” said Alicia TobyHeath, a Newark resident.

Gay Haters Start Constitutional Ban Effort

State Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-39) is going to try to put an anti-gay marriage amendment on the ballot this year.

“With this history of contempt for the law and the Constitution it is entirely probable that the Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey will decide to allow gay marriage. In order to counter the likelihood of the Court’s decision we will move to protect New Jersey families and six thousand years of western tradition by drafting a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. I hope this amendment will be ready for introduction by Monday February 27.”

Six thousand years, huh?  That’s an interesting figure. 

Because I don’t think there really is six thousand years of western tradition that he can point to that denies same-sex couplings.  Ancient Greece, pre-Christian Rome and warrior tribes in Germany all practiced homosexuality openly.  Since a good bit of our philosophy and history comes from those times and places, I wonder what Cardinale is referring to.

Anyone think that Senator Cardinale is sending a code to the religous right by using the “Biblical” age of the Earth in his press release? 

Laurel Hester in a Coma

Lieutenant Laurel Hester, the 23 year veteran of the Ocean County prosecutor’s office who spent nearly a year fighting for her rights while battling cancer, recently fell into a coma and is near death. Our thoughts and prayers are with Laurel, her partner Stacie Andree and their family and friends.

Despite her health, Laurel’s legacy lives on. Last night, Berkeley Township became the second municipality in Ocean County to pass domestic partner benefits.

NJ Could Become 2nd State to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

Several state court systems are currently considering cases on whether or not to legalize same-sex marriages. In Washington state the Supreme Court heard arguments nearly a year ago and is expected to decide soon. But some are speculating that New Jersey may leap-frog those other states and become the second state to legalize same-sex marriages:

Despite rejections at the trial and appellate court levels, lawyers and scholars say the New Jersey Supreme Court could cut ahead of similar suits pending in Washington, California, New York, Maryland, Connecticut and Iowa by swiftly legalizing gay marriage.

“New Jersey’s court has a long and proud history of interpreting cases in favor of civil rights, and a victory in this case would be in keeping with that tradition,” said Sally Goldfarb, a family law professor at Rutgers University Law School in Camden who studies family law issues. “The New Jersey Supreme Court has not hesitated to overturn state laws, and so these litigants are in a better position than they would be before most other courts across the country.”

NJ: 200 Years Ahead of Cheney

State Senator Joseph Vitale today asked the U.S. Secretary of the Interior “to designate Weehawken, New Jersey as the official site of the first time a sitting Vice President of the United States shot a private citizen.” Way before it was cool for Vice Presidents to shoot other people, Aaron Burr challenged Alexander Hamilton to a duel. On July 11, 1804, each brought a .56 caliber pistol. Burr mortally wounded Hamilton, who died the next day. Burr was later indicted for murder in New York State.

This post would be incomplete without a Daily Show quote from last night:

Rob Corddry: “Jon, tonight the vice president is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Wittington. According to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time there were quail in the brush. And while the quail turned out to be a 78-year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face. He believes the world is a better place for his spreading buckshot throughout the entire region of Mr. Whittington’s face.”

And for more fun, play Hunting With Dick!

Government Stops EZ-Pass Robbery!

My State Senator Nick Sacco (sounds like he could get a part on the Soprano’s), chairs the Transportation Committee. He is pushing for a bill that would make it a “distinct” crime to steal an EZ-Pass Tag.

Now that is what I think every legislature should be worried about. Changing the penalties for EZ-Pass tag thieves.

There must be an astounding number of EZ-Pass tag thievery going on. It is most certainly the most pressing issue of the day! Great job Sen. Sacco!

Now if only your committee could figure out a way to solve the Transportation Trust Fund, and keep the EZ-Pass tag issuers from robbing the tag holders, we would be getting somewhere.

Labor backing LoBiondo’s run

A handful of protestors showed up outside the meeting.  From the Press of Atlantic City

It was warm and comfortable in the upstairs room at Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern here Monday night.

It got even more cozy as labor leaders, politicians, casino representatives and business organizations from throughout southern New Jersey gave U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, what amounted to an endorsement of his re-election bid.

Across the street, about 15 protesters bundled in coats, hats and gloves to hold off the cold tried to turn up the heat on LoBiondo: Members of Citizens for Progressive Representation, or CPR, held up signs and called out to those entering the restaurant that LoBiondo’s congressional voting record is the opposite of what his supporters inside were celebrating.

“The Bush administration has been one of the most anti-worker, anti-union administrations on record, yet LoBiondo has voted with Bush almost all of the time on labor matters,” said CPR Chairwoman Janet Fayter.

Those inside took note of the protest, but not the way CPR would have wanted: Labor officials said LoBiondo has always been there to strengthen the city’s gaming industry, fight for more jobs and stand up for the working man.

“The people who are outside, that’s where they’re going to stay,” said state AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech. “Outside.”

LoBiondo told supporters the protest was an example of a political climate in which people “choose to ignore reality and real facts.”

We’ve had previous diaries on whether there will be a Dem challenger, but some from labor were discouraging that.

Another reality that was clear from Monday night’s event was that organized labor, traditionally considered a supporter of Democrats, was sending a message to any Democrat considering a challenge to LoBiondo: Don’t do it.

Roy Foster, president of the Atlantic-Cape May Central Labor Council, said there “won’t be no money” from labor for any Democratic congressional candidate in the 2nd District. Democrats in the district may think they’re automatically entitled to labor’s support, but they are “guests in our house,” he said.

LoBiondo said the event sent a “very clear message” to any potential Democratic challenger.

That creates something of a bigger problem for southern New Jersey Democrats.

And surprise, surprise, LoBiondo doesn’t want to limit himself to his promised 6 terms.  What about the supposed targetting of the district by the DCCC?

LoBiondo had originally pledged to serve only six terms. That would mean LoBiondo should now be serving his last year in Congress.

LoBiondo broke the pledge, saying he gave in to pressure from supporters.

Now, Democrats who hoped to win the seat this year are again faced with the prospect of running a candidate against the popular Republican, who usually wins his elections by wide margins.

Labor officials said they held Monday’s event because of concern that the National Democratic Committee is targeting LoBiondo’s seat in this year’s election…

Outside, Fayter said CPR, a new organization with as many as 100 members, is upset that labor’s decision to back LoBiondo now will stifle something necessary for Democracy — a strong challenge by an opponent and a differing point of view for voters to consider.

CPR is also upset that LoBiondo broke his term-limit pledge, she said.

“It’s time for a change,” Fayter said.