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Friday the 13 Cooks Up Bad News for Mike Ferguson

Charlie Cook runs one of the most reliable and believed in political newsletters, and is particularly famous for handicapping races.  His data is usually highly proprietary and campaigns pay a lot of money to get their hands on it.  When a candidate moves within Cook’s categories, it is a sign that something is changing and usually considered a big deal.

Mike Ferguson has been moved from being safe to being in play.  Since the February 18, 2005 House Summary Ferguson has been off Cook’s radar, but the Friday the 13th, 2006 House Summary he was put back into play.  It’s still in the Likely Republican column, but still not a slam dunk.

With some work from Blue 7th and our candidates, we can move him into to Lean Republican column, then into the Toss Up column, and finally into Retirement in January 2007.

Why? Because New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District is not necessarily as Republican as folks make it out.  NJ7 has a Cook Report Partisan Voting Index of just R+1 which means it voted for Bush one percent more than that country did as a whole.  Since Bush only got 51 percent, that means he got 52 percent in the NJ7.  Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, reported in May 2002 that even in the newly redistricted NJ7 Al Gore won 51 percent of the vote. 

Voters here have demonstrated that they will vote for a Democrat when given an opportunity, and when given a choice.  Here at Dump Mike and the Blue 7th PAC it is our job to present the voters with enough information that they decide it is time to make a choice.

NJGOP Is Chicken!

Todd Riffle is the Director of Communications for the New Jersey Republicans, and he is the guy who posts the NJGOP press releases on PoliticsNJ.com.  One of the options you have when you post releases is to turn on or off the ability of visitors to comment on your release.

On December 7, Mr. Riffle posted a release about a former Bob Menendez staffer who had been indicted after leaving his employ.  Riffle left the comments open, and so HobokenMidget decided to comment about Mr. Riffle’s past as an indicted political operative.

A Republican operative working for ex-Assembly Speaker Garabed “Chuck” Haytaian’s failed comeback bid earlier this year has been indicted on charges stemming from opposition research work he did during the campaign and could face jail time.

Todd A. Riffle, 32, a former aide to Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and a staffer on several statewide GOP campaigns, was indicted on October 2 and charged with unlawfully obtaining and/or disclosing personal information from a motor vehicle record and false-swearing.

Both charges are fourth degree offenses, meaning that Riffle faces up to eighteen months in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 if he is convicted, according to John Haggerty, a spokesman for the Division of Criminal Justice.

It takes some pretty big chutzpah to blast a guy for having a former staffer who got indicted when you yourself were indicted in the past.  Plus, how can the Republicans seriously talk about cleaning up ethics in Trenton if they are hiring a guy like this for their spokesman?

But the kicker is he then posted releases on Dec. 15, Jan. 18 and Jan. 19 each of which had commenting turned off. After getting called out for his hypocricy in the comments, Riffle decided that his best course of action was to stop leaving the comments open when he posted press releases! 

How chicken can you get?

Camden County tonight will become 7th to offer Domestic Partner benefits

When Garden State Equality Chair Steven Goldstein stood up to address Ocean County’s freeholder’s last night, he sarcastically thanked them for doing so much to advance the gay rights movement:

“Not since police raided a bar called Stonewall in Greenwich Village in the 1960s have any five people advanced the cause of gay rights as much as you have.”

As one speaker last night noted, Ocean County has become the “poster child for the homophobia in New Jersey.” Disgusted by their heartless inaction and wanting to avoid a similar fate, other counties have since acted to pass domestic partner benefits to county employees. They include Bergen, Hudson, Mercer, and Union. Recently, Monmouth County – a Republican controlled county neighboring Ocean, passed domestic partner benefits. Last night, while Ocean County’s freeholders filibustered for hours, the Passaic County freeholders unanimously voted 7-0 to do likewise.

Tonight, Camden County will become the first county in South Jersey – and the seventh in the state – to grant domestic partner benefits to government employees. According to Steven Goldtein, “This demonstrates the unified disgust of all New Jersey — North, Central and South — with the grotesque hatred the Ocean County Freeholders have for Lieutenant Laurel Hester.”

(And if there’s any doubt that Ocean County has become the poster child of homophobia, take a look at all the press they’ve generated just today: NY Times, Star Ledger, Asbury Park Press, Press of Atlantic City, Advocate, 365Gay.com)

Plus Ca Change, Plus Le Meme Chose

As Wally would say. Albio Sires is the former NJ House Speaker, and is now the front runner in the campaign to replace Senator “Pope” Bob Menendez.

Sires is long thought to be some sort of Menendez protege’ and his early actions are pretty indicative of that:

Sires, who is mayor of West New York as well as the 33rd District assemblyman, is barred by state election law from accepting campaign contributions from casinos, cable companies or the tobacco industry.

But federal election law has no such restrictions, and the Sires for Congress campaign has benefited with more than $40,000 in contributions from Caesars Entertainment and Harrah’s Entertainment, Comcast, Anheuser-Busch and tobacco giant RJ Reynolds.

“Albio Sires needs to explain why he took thousands of dollars from casinos and tobacco interests, that are unlawful as Assembly speaker, and then exempted casinos from the statewide smoking ban,” said Barry Brendel, a spokesman for Perth Amboy Mayor Joe Vas, Sires’s opposition in the congressional primary.

Ah… primaries, the only time NJ politicians are kept honest!

The best arguments against the recent smoking ban center around the Casino loop-hole. These nay-sayers are generally right. Why shouldn’t casino workers be offered the same protections offered to the rest of NJ employees under this new law? I don’t think I have to get into the specifics of how such an exception got made.

However, for the fightin’ 13th we have a big business Democrat to replace the one that just got appointed to a more powerful job left. Yipee!

More Texas Shenanigans for Mike Ferguson

Mike Ferguson has received close to $200,000 from Tom DeLay and DeLay, Inc. over the seven years of his Congressional campaigning.  We’ve previously noted that almost $55,000 came directly from DeLay; another $132,000 from a fundraiser run by Congressman Tom DeLay, Acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt and DeLay’s PAC executive Director Jim Ellis; $8,500 from partners of Alexander Strategies; and another $5,000 from ex –employees of DeLay. 

We also noted that after receiving all this money from the Texas congressman, Ferguson turned around and gave $27,000 for the 2004 election alone to Republicans running for Congress in Texas.

And today we found another $3,000 from Andrew “Drew” Maloney, a lobbyist for the Federalist Group and former chief of Staff to Tom DeLay.  But what makes this particular contribution really interesting is that there are allegations the contributions may have been made using taxpayers’ dollars.

Quote of the week.

I read this earlier, and I’m pretty sure it was Senator Wayne Bryant who said it. I saw it in the Ledger. This was during Corzine’s inauguration speech apparently.

“…who elected him to determine what is political and what is necessary?”

I’m thinking that’s exactly why he was elected by the people, to make those choices.

I also heard some other assembly person grumbling about the new governor “…needs to realize the committee chairmen run the committees…”

Both of these quotes were from Democratic representatives. I’m not quite sure whether to be excited that the entrenched don’t appreciate Governor Corzine’s view for the future… or this is a diabolical plot to provide a premptive excuse if our new governor fails to enact reform. I cannot bring myself to believe that Senator Bryant would say such a thing within earshot of a reporter by accident.

Update on Podcast, Website Functionality

We’re excited to announce that Congressman Rush Holt will be our guest on the first Blue Jersey Podcast which will be out by January 30th. We want our podcasts to be an opportunity for our community to dialog with elected officials, so use the comments below to note any questions you’d like us to ask. We can’t promise that we’ll use all of the questions, but we will make our best effort to include as many as possible.

If you have iTunes on your computer, you can click on the button below to automatically subscribe to our podcast and listen to our short intro.

We also recently added tags to our diaries. Tags are just keywords that anyone can assign to categorize an entry. If you create a diary, useful tags that you might include are names, locations (legislative districts, counties, municipalities),  and issues. For example, in the previous diary titled “Ocean Co. Freeholders: Impotent“, the tags chosen were “civil rights, lesbian, gay, Ocean County, freeholders, Laurel Hester”. Any community member can add/change tags, though if that functionality is abused to include irrelevant or malicious tags, members will be banned. It’s best to use tags that already exist. Also, don’t use obvious tags like “New Jersey” or “politics” which would probably apply to every single diary on the site. Here is a complete list of existing tags. For example, clicking on the Laurel Hester tag will display the three diaries that have been tagged with that name. In the future, tags will make it easy to search for content, so start tagging now. It’s also possible to add tags to pre-existing diaries.

Come On, Bob Menendez, Make My Day

Will he or won’t he?

The Philadelphia Inquirer wonders if newly minted New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez will give thumbs up to Sam “The Sham” Alito for the U.S. Supreme Court. In response, Menendez blows enough smoke to earn himself a mention in the Kyoto Protocol. Now, I wasn’t happy when it became clear that Jon Corzine was going to put Menendez in his old Senate seat, and I complained about it here at long and no doubt wearisome length. Now that Menendez has the prize he spent decades angling for, I can only sit and hope to be pleasantly surprised, and a “no” vote on this fork-tongued, sidestepping legal apologist for the imperial presidency would definitely fall under the heading of “pleasant surprise.”

You hear that, senator? I said “pleasant surprise.” Pleasant surprise! PLEASANT SURPRISE.


Cross-posted at The Opinion Mill.

Ocean Co. Freeholders: Impotent

The Ocean County Freeholders continue to refuse to support officer Laurel Hester’s right to grant her pension benefits to her life partner.  Not really news, if you’ve been following the case at all… the OC Freeholders have seemed pretty “dug in” on this issue throughout.  Even in the face of a heartrending video appeal.

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