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Do House primaries kill challengers in NJ?

First diary here, and I admit this is not a topic I’m an expert on. But having two Democrats running for the primary to challenge Ferguson in the NJ-07 seems like a huge mistake strategically. Now I’m not against the democratic process and anyone who can get the signatures or whatever should be allowed to throw their hat into the ring. But the fact that we won’t have a name to officially run until June gives Ferguson a huge advantage. It kills fundraising and confuses what little media converage you can get for such races.

Beating Ferguson will be hard enough with the insane media prices and gerrymandering that keep the 7th incumbent friendly, but if ever there was a cycle this has to be it. Corruption all around, Ferguson deep in the pockets of Delay. It just kills me that this isn’t more of a top tier race.

Does anyone have stats on this for how much, if at all, going through a primary in a NJ house race hurts the challenger? I’d be interested to see them. Again I’m not for muscleing anyone out of the race, but an appeal to party unity would be nice given all the facts.

Uncle Floyd’s Amtrak Show

Floyd Hall is one of the lucky 17 recess appointments the President Bush made yesterday. (via Kos)

Uncle Floyd’s $300,000 in soft money contributions to the Bush Campaign have landed him a 5 year job on the AMTRAK reform board.  Many will remember Uncle Floyd from his days as CEO of the KMart that went Bankrupt.

In fairness, Uncle Floyd is Montclair State’s favorite uncle, and he generally has done lots of good for the community. The appointment speaks more about the Bush Presidency than it does about Uncle Floyd.

However, when Uncle Floyd is placed together with co-appointees such as Halliburton head Robert Crandell, and railroad privatizer Louis Thompson, Amtrak’s future is bleak at best.

Having such distinguished Republican free marketeers at the helm can mean REAL trouble for the already embattled Amtrak.

Come to think of it, our new Senator Menendez used to be quite the Defender of Amtrak, heck he even sat on the committee in charge of it. I wonder what he thinks of Bush’s sneaky appointment of this fellow New Jerseyan?

Amtrak is a crucial part of the Northeast’s economy. It needs real leadership to see it through the troubled times ahead, not Katrina-esque cronyism running it into the ground.

News Roundup

  • Education Week gave New Jersey’s school system a B-, barely above the national average of C+. Minority and low-income students are closing the “performance gap” between white, more affluent students.
  • Plans for Corzine’s inaugural seems to be more low-key than in previous years.
  • “The state’s independent ratepayer advocate told regulators Wednesday she is against the proposed acquisition of Public Service Energy Group by Chicago’s Exelon Corp. because the would-be benefits to New Jersey’s 3.8 million rate electric and gas customers are too vague.”
  • The Assembly is giving up on legislation that passed the Senate that would provide up to $500 million funding for stem cell research. Some members are complaining that they need “more time to consider it” and don’t want to rush it through. Ironically, the legislators who have been in a coma the past several years are the ones who would stand to benefit the most from this research.
  • The Assembly Judiciary Committee will be considering legislation on Thursday to impose a moratorium on the death penalty.
  • The Homeland Security Department has said it will allocate millions of dollars in funds to states based on risk. Though the funding for this year is less than last year, Codey is “‘cautiously optimistic’ the new policy of allocating grants based on risk will mean more aid for New Jersey.”
  • Corzine’s transition advisors are proposing that DYFS be given Cabinet-level status, a move both McGreevey and Codey resisted.
  • Don’t forget to vote early and often.
  • Outrage!

    New Jersey State Judges asked for a 17% raise today.

    New Jersey’s top judge seeks a 17 percent pay increase for the state’s judges, noting they haven’t had a raise since 2000 and lag behind their counterparts in most states.

    The $141,000 salary of trial judges ranks fifth in pay for judges among the states but 34th when adjusted for cost of living, according to a report prepared for Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz.

    The request prompted Gov.-elect Jon S. Corzine’s transition team to remind legislators that restraint was needed in budget decisions.

    I wonder if there will be calls of outrage and disgust that these judges want too damned much.

    Much ado about swearing

      You will swear by your true Kingship… to grant me what I wish, then you shall have it.


    In yesterday’s Times had an article about Paula Sollami-Covello with an accompanying photo of Jon Corzine administering the oath. I thought this was a little odd, but figured that, as a U.S. Senator, he could do it. Turns out he can’t, and didn’t. It was just a photo op, with the real oath administered in private. In today’s Times, Krystal Knapp reports the swearing-in was just for show.

    What’s more, Sallami-Covello wasn’t the only one sworn in like this. Edison mayor Jun Choi was also “sworn in” by Corzine, receiving the real oath later. To make matters worse, Choi’s spokesperson David Donnelley didn’t even know the Corzine-administered oath was unofficial.

    Why couldn’t Corzine have just stood by them when they received the oath? Was it really necessary for him to administer the oath? Now we have a story making them look like ill-informed grandstanders.

    Symptoms of a Dying Health Care System

    The Jersey Journal reports the closing of St. Mary’s Hospital in Hoboken.  This is now becoming a trend where area hospitals are closing because of the expense of operations and the inability to recoup their costs.

    St. Mary’s is the only hospital in Hoboken.  The next closest hospital – admittedly not too far (unless you’re the one in the back of the ambulance at rush hour) – is Jersey City Medical Center.  JCMC is fast on its way to becoming the only full-service hospital in Jersey City, since Bon Secours plans to sell St. Francis and the Greenville Hospital was shut down a few years ago.

    Spreading Santorum love across New Jersey

    Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum has a special message for New Jersey:

    “I will do everything in my power to stop anything beneficial to New Jersey, period. I will use everything I have until New Jersey lives up to their commitments,” said U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican and third-ranking official in the Senate chamber. “Every single thing that benefits New Jersey in particular I will do everything I can to make sure that it gets slowed down or stopped.”

    So long, Ricky.

    Update: NJ GOP loves Abramoff and his dirty money

    On Aug 18, 2005, Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R) said he would return a $1000 contribution that Jack Abramoff – who yesterday pleaded guilty to three federal criminal charges – made in June of 2001. But unbelievably, the day before, on Aug 17, 2005, Abramoff made a second $1000 contribution to LoBiondo.

    Rep. Jim Saxton (R) already returned a $1000 contribution that Abramoff made in 2001, but Saxton also received $1000 in 2003 and $1000 in 2004 from Abramoff. Maybe the 2001 money was a bribe so they are giving it back, while the rest of the money was just influence peddling so they are deciding to keep it.

    Rep. Mike Ferguson (R) still hasn’t returned the $1000 he got from Abramoff.

    State Senator William Gormley (R) also got $1000 from Abramoff in 2000 when he was running for US Senate.

    And how could we forget? Abramoff also gave $5000 to the New Jersey Republican State Committee.

    By my calculations, the NJ GOP and elected officials have received at least $12,000 from Abramoff but only promised to return $2,000 $4000. Even the ones who did say they would return contributions aren’t returning the full amount. Nice.

    UPDATE: I was wrong about LoBiondo and Saxton’s contributions. Scott in NJ corrected me in the comments:

    Unfortunately, the filings for LoBiondo on 8/17/05 and for Saxton in 2004 were for refunds of campaign contributions.

    LoBiondo has taken money from Scanlon, $2000 on 6/22/01, the same day he got $1000 from Abramoff.  He has not given this contribution.

    For his part, Ferguson recieved $1000 from Adam Kidan.  He has also taken hand over fist from GOP leadership PACs which took loads of money from Abramoff.

    Gina Genovese becomes NJ’s first openly gay mayor

    Today’s Star-Ledger has a very lame piece about what should be a far more exciting moment in our state’s history.

    From the article:

    Long Hill Township made history during its reorganization meeting last night as committee members chose their first openly gay mayor.

    Barely six months into her first term on the township committee, Democrat Gina Genovese was harassed for her lifestyle. Yesterday though, the five-member panel unanimously voted her in as mayor.

    “I’m just very proud of this committee and this community. I’m looking forward to working with everyone,” Genovese said after the meeting. “I have to make sure (the appointment) doesn’t change who I am. I have to have a positive outlook, and that’s what I’m hoping for.”

    In May, Genovese received an anonymous letter alleging sexual misconduct with a minor. About 70 copies were scattered around town hall. Police have not found the author.

    After taking the oath of office, Genovese pledged to improve communications among businesses, town officials and residents. Her goals include focusing on long-range planning for the township, continued economic development and fiscal responsibility.

    NJ Legislature to End Death Penalty?

    Hearings will be taking place Thursday morning to consider a bill that would remove capital punishment from NJ law, Newsday reports.  The Senate has already passed the bill, and Codey has demonstrated his willingness to sign such a measure.  Corzine, too, is opposed to the death penalty.

    This measure is both symbolic and economic: the NJ capital punishment system, which hasn’t performed an execution in forty years, dumps $10 million annually into maintenance of the system.

    One important point of argumentation should it come in handy: the founder and three senior members of New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, the leading interesting group behind this bill, have all lost a family member due to murder.  They’re not soft on crime–they’re right.