Tag Archive: Joe Roberts

Assemblyman Troy Singleton on the FY2014 State Budget

The Fiscal 2014 state budget process started this week with Governor Christie’s address to the legislature. Next, it goes through the Budget Committees of each chamber. Public hearings will be held throughout the state where citizens and special interest groups can express their ideas and concerns to the legislators.

One of the members of the Assembly Budget Committee is Troy Singleton. Even though he’s in his first full term, he’s no stranger to the machinations and processes that occur under the State House dome. He has served in various capacities including Chief of Staff to former Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts. I spoke with Assemblyman Singleton earlier today in his Mount Laurel office about this year’s budget.



Tomorrow: Assemblyman Singleton talks to Blue Jersey about gun safety.

Disclosure: I have worked on Assemblyman Singleton’s election campaign.

Who will be New Jersey’s Howard Dean in 2013?

Who remembers hearing Dean’s ‘What I Want to Know’ speech? It was a freshwater slap in the face to the orthodoxy of the Democratic Party and the complacence of too many of its members with the trajectory of the Republican in the executive seat. Sound familiar? Well, as you answer, remember this: Howard lost the nomination to lesser lights. Does that teach us anything? But remember this, too: 2 years later (nearly to the day), Dean became DNC Chair, and changed – for a while – the party’s direction and organizing priorities.

Is anything like that even possible in New Jersey? – Rosi



February 21, 2013 will be the 10th Anniversary of the speech (it begins shortly after the two-hour mark) that Howard Dean delivered at the Democratic National Convention’s Winter Meeting that put him on the map as a Presidential candidate and made him the standard-bearer of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party that he still is today.

It is my hope that by this date, the field of candidates for the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination will be set and at least one of them will provide rank-and-file Democrats, progressive or otherwise, with the same kind of clarity of vision and voice that Howard Dean gave us on the national level nearly ten years ago.  

State Senator (and former Senate Majority Leader) Barbara Buono, who is the only candidate in the field at the moment, is undoubtedly progressive enough, but it remains to be seen if she can communicate those progressive values as passionately and powerfully as Dean did and continues to do so today.  She has been Governor Chris Christie’s most visible and vocal opponent to date and would have no problem contrasting how differently she would govern our state than the incumbent has to date.

State Senator (and former Acting Governor and Senate President) Richard Codey has the same progressive bona fides as Senator Buono and to his credit played a critical role in securing the endorsement of then-Governor Jim McGreevey and the bulk of the state’s Democratic establishment for Governor Dean towards the end of 2003.  The successful year-plus that he served as the state’s Acting Governor gives him more than enough good will and name recognition to be able to compete with Christie this fall.

What will happen if Steve Sweeney does not win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2013?

Contested statewide Democratic primary elections do not happen very often here in New Jersey.  Since I started paying close attention to New Jersey politics in 1997, there have only been four seriously contested statewide Democratic primary elections.  In 1997, then-Woodbridge Mayor Jim McGreevey defeated Congressman Rob Andrews and Morris County Prosecutor Michael Murphy for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.  In 2000, Jon Corzine bought more votes than his senatorial opponent, former Governor Jim Florio, was able to earn.  In February 2008, Hillary Clinton defeated Barack Obama in the Presidential primary election.  In June of that year, Andrews lost his second statewide primary election when he challenged the incumbent U.S. Senator, Frank Lautenberg.

It appears as if we will have a hotly contested Democratic gubernatorial primary election in 2013.  The most likely candidates at the moment are State Senators Barbara Buono, Dick Codey, and Steve Sweeney.  It is possible that other candidates could come out of the woodwork over the next year or so, but for the sake of this discussion, the names are less important than the questions that the current political dynamic in the state, which has Democratic Party bosses, including but not limited to Steve Adubato and George Norcross, closely aligned with Republican Governor Chris Christie, raises about how serious these bosses are about defeating Christie.

These bosses and their acolytes in the State legislature have enabled Christie to get more of his agenda passed than our last Democratic Governor, Corzine, and have never even come close to a government shutdown like the one which occurred as a result of the conflict between Corzine and then-Assembly Speaker, Joe Roberts, a Norcross minion, over whether the state sales tax should be increased, and if so, how the additional revenue should be spent.  So it stands to reason that Adubato, Norcross et al would probably prefer to have one of their own (Steve Sweeney being the most likely candidate, but Assemblyman Louis Greenwald is another possibility) as Governor than Christie, but in lieu of that, it would not be safe to assume that they would prefer someone else, like Buono or Codey, over Christie.

Former Speaker Joe Roberts

Assemblyman-elect Troy Singleton was previously the chief of staff to then-Speaker of the Assembly Joe Roberts. Roberts was at the victory party on election night, and I spoke with him briefly following the event.



Will the Congressional Redistricting Commission give Joe Cryan a golden parachute to Washington?

Unless a miracle takes place this Tuesday and Republicans in LD1, LD3, and LD4 pull off major upsets, South Jersey party boss, George Norcross, will have more than enough votes to replace his primary adversary in the Assembly, Majority Leader Joe Cryan, with his top ally in the legislative body, Louis Greenwald, sending Cryan to the back bench.

What remains to be seen, however, is what Cryan will do once he is sent there.  Will he unite with his fellow back bencher in the Senate, Dick Codey, to build an opposition movement that will contend not only for the Governor’s office in 2013, but also all 120 legislative seats?  As much as I would love to see this, I do not expect that this will happen.  It is very possible that Dick Codey will run for Governor in 2013, but it is also possible that Cory Booker, Barbara Buono, and Steve Sweeney will run as well and it is unlikely that any of them will run opposition slates against the party lines that they do not win, which means that regardless of who wins the gubernatorial primary, there will not be much change in the legislative roster or its leadership.

If I am right about this, then Cryan will most likely remain on the back bench for most of the next decade.  That is, unless he finds a new office for which to run or that office finds him.  There have been times in the past decade when Cryan expressed an interest in running for Congress in the 7th district, but admitted that the current configuration of the district made it extremely difficult for a Democrat to win.

This is very true.  Our best chance to win this district came in 2006 when a very popular Assemblywoman, Linda Stender, challenged a very unpopular Congressman Mike Ferguson in a year that Democrats were trending up and Republicans were trending down.  However, despite these trends, Stender came a few thousand votes short of victory.  Two years later, Stender did not run as strong of a campaign as she did in 2006 and faced a very popular State Senator, Leonard Lance.  Despite huge turnout increases inspired by Barack Obama’s candidacy, it was not enough for a Democrat to win the 7th and Lance defeated Stender by a much wider margin than Ferguson did two years earlier.

Blue Jersey Focus: Troy Singleton, featured

How would you like to be the speaker who goes to the podium before two international celebrities? And do it while you are nursing a very bad cold? Well, New Jersey Assembly candidate Troy Singleton was in just that position last night, and he hit a home run.

Last night’s Get Out the Vote rally in Willingboro featured nine time Olympic Gold Medal winner Carl Lewis and Oprah celebrity Newark Mayor Cory Booker. But Singleton was a star in his own light.

Singleton’s district, the seventh, is one of the few competitive legislative races this year. He and his running mate, Assemblyman/Doctor/Lawyer Herb Conaway are competing against the flip-flopping Mayor of Mount Laurel, Jim Keenan, and Christie Clone Chris Halgas.

Singleton already has a list of accomplishments that would make him one of the best prepared Assemblypeople in Trenton. As chief of staff to former Speaker Joe Roberts, Singleton knows the ins and outs of the State House. He’s a labor leader and serves on the Turnpike Authority, the Burlington County Bridge Commission and is a trustee of Rowan University.

Lewis and Booker were inspiring in their remarks last night. But listening to Troy was the highlight.



The (Redistricting) Calm Before the Storm

Today’s meeting of the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Committee was one of the calmest sessions I have witnessed in the State House, but don’t be fooled. With the loss of one seat in Congress, this commission’s deliberations are bound to heat up and provide us with some fireworks.

The session today was a formality, with no substantive issues discussed. By-laws were adopted and a Committee Secretary was appointed. The committee, which consists of six Democrats, six Republicans, and a mutually-agreed-upon independent tiebreaker, will re-draw the congressional election districts based on the population shifts enumerated in the 2010 U.S. Census.

There will be at least three public hearings, where advocacy groups can go on record and suggest parameters for the new maps. The first will be at Rutgers-Camden on September 22, and two others will be scheduled, most likely on the Rutgers campuses in New Brunswick and Newark.

State Democratic Party Chairman Assemblyman John Wisniewski led a similar effort earlier this year to redraw the lines of New Jersey’s legislative districts. He spoke today with Blue Jersey about the congressional redistricting – the video of his interview is below the fold.

Democrats’ Congressional Redistricting Team: Joe Roberts Leading

Former New Jersey Speaker Joe Roberts is expected to be selected to head up the Democrats’ congressional redistricting team. Roberts and his team now join the Mike Du Haime-helmed GOP team on the New Jersey Redistricting Commission. Roberts and the Democrats working with him will be charged with representing Democratic interests as new boundary lines are drawn for the 12 seats in the US House of Representatives we will have starting with the 113th Congress, January 2013. Right now, Dems hold a 7-6 edge; the balance will change. A great deal is riding on this; New Jersey will be losing a congressional seat, and an incumbent congressman (there are, as you know, no women) may lose his seat.

Pulling directly now from the NJDSC’s news release, here are the remaining Democratic members:

Michael Baker is an attorney with the New Brunswick firm of Hoagland-Longo, where he leads the firms Transactional Group, including farmland and open space preservation. Michael served in the General Assembly from July 1991 until January 1992, and was also a members of the East Brunswick Township Council, among other municipal positions.

Nilsa Cruz-Perez holds the distinction of being the first Hispanic woman to serve in the General Assembly, representing the 5th District from 1995 until 2010. In the Assembly, she served on the Democratic leadership team and chaired the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee. She also served in the US Army from 1981-1987, rising to the rank of Sergeant.

Ed Farmer is CEO and President of Caldwell-based Millennium Strategies. For seven years, Ed was Chief of Staff to US Rep. Bill Pascrell, and has also served as Chairman of the Board at Passaic County Community College.

Jeannine Frisby LaRue currently is senior vice president at the Kaufman Zita Group, and has been a fixture in New Jersey politics and policy for nearly four decades. Jeannine had previously served as vice president of public affairs for Rutgers University, and was also deputy chief of staff to former Governor Jon S. Corzine.

Phil Thigpen has served as Essex County Democratic Chairman since 2001. He has also served as an Essex County Freeholder and as a city councilman in East Orange.

More on Roberts and on process, after the jump.

Transparency & Accountability – Who runs the Democrats? An Open Thread …

A letter came to light today, via politickernj, from a Somerset County Democratic state committeeman to John Wisniewski, suggesting Wisniewski resign from the NJ Assembly, and bylaws be drawn to keep elected officials from serving the state party committee forevermore. And at least one Democratic County Chair – Somerset’s Peg Schaffer – is on board with that.

Frankly, that’s a hard case to make. Joe Cryan, Joe Roberts and Bonnie Watson Coleman all ran the Party from the Assembly. And Asm Jay Webber runs NJ GOP. That begs the question why the hell the Dems should alter bylaws for what only may be an issue right now – if it’s an issue at all.

And the public relations here is dicey. Awful, maybe. I’m sure Joel Shain – former Orange mayor, who once primaried and lost to Dick Codey – didn’t intend this, but a letter asking the Democratic State Chair to demote himself and have less power than he is already perceived to have, well … not cool. Even though, face it, with notable exceptions the Democrats have a serious swagger deficiency, despite their number advantages. That’s what Shain’s getting at, asking Wisniewski to choose, and pick only the Party. But I think there’s another problem.

Transparency & accountability: Try to find the state committee folks who represent your county, people in Shain’s position –

  • I don’t see their names on the NJDSC website, with other Party contacts.

  • Or on the  NJ Democrats facebook group page.

  • Or the wiki.  

    Note: NJDSC parliamentarian Regan McGrory is thorough & very responsive to requests for info. I’ve asked her for that list, and I expect to post it – but I think those names should be listed on their site, and nobody should have to ask for it.

    Who runs the show? The reality is that the state committee is a rubber stamp. In theory, NJDSC’s primary function – and Wisniewski’s –  is to enact the will of its members. And committeemen like Shain are elected to express that will – our will. And the Chair’s supposed to be guided, at least in part, by those locally-elected to the state Party. In practice … very different. The state committee may have power they don’t exercise, and at any rate we never hear about it. It’s top-down, all the way. We know that the people running the show – really running it – are the professional Dems, the class comprised of high-level state electeds, and Democratic staffers. They’re good people – don’t get me wrong, from time to time, Blue Jersey even lobs a person or two into the front office – and they’re fully committed, good Democrats. It’s reasonable that key daily decisions are made by them – they’re there every day.

    The problem is, in their party capacity they’re not answerable – except to each other, and for their jobs. They don’t report to you. County & state committee people can be a key to change, and greater accountability, but they have to hear from the rest of us that we expect that. And the beginning of expecting them to exercise their power, is seeing who they are, and locally contributing feedback to them. And I expect the NJDSC to work overtime to promote that.

    A good start …I want more: The Party Democracy Act has been a lever to dislodge centralized control, giving party activists (on both sides) a better shot at tracking what really goes on. It’s a good process. And if the state committee is actually nothing more than a rubber stamp – except on rare occasions when they make news, or shock the hell out of the party Chair – then maybe we should be asking why that is, and how actually to have our voices heard when our Party takes action, defines itself, or does battle with an impudent Governor who thinks it’s his way or the highway.

    I’ll post the elected members of the NJ Democratic State Committee, reps from all 21 counties, when I get it. Meanwhile, consider this an Open Thread on Shain’s letter to John Wisniewski.

    Blue Jersey, what do you think?   Text of the letter is after the jump.