Tag Archive: Barbara Buono

New Jersey’s First Lieutenant Governor: A Democratic Short List

Governor Jon Corzine is set to undertake the historic task of selecting an individual to run as the Democratic candidate to become the first Lieutenant Governor in New Jersey history.  

On Monday, we looked at the potential Republican picks for Lieutenant Governor.  Today, below the fold is a diverse list of ten possible Democratic contenders.  It is subjective and, more than anything, written to solicit the opinions of Blue Jersey readers on the strengths and weaknesses of each potential pick.  

Please click the headline, read on, comment away.

Rob Andrews declares for Governor

Standing in front of his Haddon Heights home at 11am this morning, and surrounded by what he admitted was a hastily-assembled group of supporters, Rob Andrews announced he will give up his seat in Congress representing NJ’s 1st Congressional District, and challenge Jon Corzine for his party’s nomination for Governor.

From his statement:

I did not intend, or plan, to challenge my Governor in the primary process. I do so with regret, and respect. But New Jersey needs fresh stewardship, and new ideas. I have decided that I will place my name and my credentials before the people of New Jersey to serve as their new Governor. The people of New Jersey deserve to choose their governor. With respect for Governor Corzine and his public service, I will offer them that choice in this historic year of change, of challenge and of opportunity.

The news was a surprise, even for Andrews, who made headlines – and not a few enemies – with an unexpected primary challenge to Senator Frank Lautenberg, just days after promising the entire NJ Democratic delegation that he would not. The acrimonious nature of the race, including repeated references to the incumbent’s age (Lautenberg was 84, Andrews 50) forced Democrats to take sides. Most sided with the eventual winner, Lautenberg, but the process may have further alienated South Jersey Democrats from their counterparts further north. It also damaged Andrews’ credibility quotient, with wife Camille Andrews accused of merely keeping his seat warm for him in the event of his failure to capture the nomination from Lautenberg. When he lost, badly, to his elder, he did indeed return to that seat he swore he was done with.

Last year’s race was largely seen as Andrews’ test-run at a real state-wide campaign this year, but after a crushing defeat by a Senator he had made out to be, well, addled and well past his prime, the conventional wisdom was that he’d learned a lesson, and would live to fight another day.

A day perhaps come rather sooner than is convenient for Corzine. It’s a bad time to be an incumbent governor with the economy – state and national – in the shape it’s in. And that has been reflected in bad polling news for the Governor.

A trio of state Senators introduced Andrews to the group; Ray Lesniak, Joe Vitale and Bob Smith, who were in turn brought to the microphone by Asm John Wisniewski. Newark Democratic powerbroker Steve Adubato was there but did not speak. SJ Democratic Chairs Beach, Angelini and Perr and Norcross were also not called to the microphone. Today’s announcement is seen as another sharp challenge to the balance of power by Norcross.

Barbara Buono, who endorsed Andrews last year, was not there. She is rumored to be on Corzine’s shortlist for Lieutenant Governor. Democratic heavy-hitters who endorsed Andrews in ’08, but were missing from this morning’s announcement, included included Majority Leader Steve Sweeney, and Speaker Joe Roberts. Andrews mentioned both in his remarks, expressing deep respect, and that both had been informed late last night of his intentions.

Andrews’ track record over the last year is widely seen as hubris, over-reaching and a notable failure of an ascendant South Jersey politician to capture the Senate seat in the name of the power structure in South Jersey. There was considerable resentment inside the Democratic Party, but particularly inside the Democratic Congressional delegation, with Pascrell and Pallone the most vocal.

Andrews briefly flirted last year with the possibility of leaving politics altogether and going to Goldman Sachs which, ironically, Corzine used to run. But now, the loss of support among his House colleagues – not to mention what Lautenberg may think of him – may be a factor in Andrews’ choice to switch playing fields entirely, and compete with an incumbent Governor struggling with a national economy in freefall, a mountain of inherited state debt, and a likely challenger, Chris Christie, who fashions himself a heroic corruption-buster.


Gatekeepers to Marriage Equality for all New Jerseyans

Promoted: From Jay’s vision, to reality. (Let’s hope.) -JG

Old b-roll footage can be intriguing to watch, including this clip with Senator Barbara Buono from last summer’s paid family leave bill signing.   She praises the leadership skills of Sen. Steve Sweeney — who’s since become Senate majority leader.  It kinda got me thinking about what’s possible for GLBT rights in New Jersey.

Scoring Points!

Earlier this month, Senator Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), Chair of the State Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, scored points for fiscal responsibility and common sense by advocating the elimination of pension credit for part-time government employees.  This past week, she scored a touchdown when she pledged to reject any attempts to insert “Christmas Tree items” into the budget for the new fiscal year beginning July 1.  She also proposed the restoration of $62 million in proposed cuts in municipal aid, including $37 million in eliminated tax relief for towns with fewer than 10,000 residents.  

Reining In Out-of-Control Spending

As New Jersey copes with its increasing budget woes, perhaps the Legislature should consider several measures that would help reduce out-of-control spending:  unannounced audits and the elimination or transformation of pension credit for part-time government work.

Updated: Andrews getting more North Jersey Support

Middlesex County appears to be Andrews country…

Middlesex County Democrats are expected to support Rob Andrews for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination against incumbent Frank Lautenberg.  State Sen. Robert Smith has endorsed Andrews, and sources say that Senate Health Committee Chairman Joseph Vitale and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Barbara Buono will also back the Congressman from Camden County.

* Update:  In addition to Middlesex, Bergen County State Senator Paul Sarlo has said he will support Andrews, which is interesting because Joe Ferriero taken alot of heat and now appears to be ready to support Lautenberg.  Curiouser and Curiouser…

Family Medical Leave Act Lurches Forward

The Senate Budget Committee just voted on the Senate bill # S786, the Family Medical Leave act.  By a vote of 8 to 5  the bill  was released to the full Senate.  

Here’s how the breakdown looked from my vantage point.

NO: Haines, Lance, Oroho, Turner, O’Toole

YEA: Buono, Sweeney, Sarlo, Ruiz, Redd, Stack, Cunningham, Vitale.

Looks like all the new members of the panel hung tough with their caucus.

Shirley Turner was the only committee member to cross party lines.

(Bill sponsors in bold)

Sisters are Doing it for Themselves (budget edition)


Senator Barbara Buono  assumed the chair of the powerful Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee just in time to hear exec branch policy wonks discuss Corzine’s debt restructuring plans.  (Note to self:  next time, bring a book.)

At press time they are still at it so stay tuned for the substantive detail. (Basically the Governor’s surrogates are making the pitch, echoing much of what Corzine laid out in this state-of-the-state.  Followed by questions from lawmakers which I may or may not stick around for.)

But for now I have some anecdotal observations to share.

First of all, Madam Chair ain’t messing around kids.  So turn your phone off and take the chit chat elsewhere.  Those were the new “groundrules.”

Then there’s that punctuality thing.  Erstwhile Chairman Bernard Kenney tended to run pretty late out of the gates.  And Wayne Bryant before him was worse (usually.)   But this term we’ll be starting on time.  Today that meant 3pm and I couldn’t be more thrilled to not be waiting around just to wait around.

IMG_2534Senators Ruiz, Redd wait for their first panel hearing to commence.

I should have known something was different when I arrived early and saw newly minted Senators Teresa Ruiz of Newark and Camden’s Dana Redd prepping for their first day, presumably shaking off some first day jitters.

“How adorable,” I thought to myself, “the newbies are early.  I wonder if I should bring them a Snickers (because it’s gonna be a while.”)

Turns out they were simply early for work, preparing to join Buono on the budget panel.

Chairwoman Buono greets Senator CunninghamSenator Buono (D-Middlesex) welcomes Senator Cunningham (D-Jersey City)

In addition to Ruiz and Redd, Senators Stack, Cunningham, O’toole, Oroho and Hanes were all joining this Senate panel.  Tom Kean Jr. was a re-joiner.  Wearing an arm-cast no less.  (Let’s hope he didn’t hurt his hand punching liberal bloggers in the nose.)

Kean started off last session on this panel but took a hiatus.  Ten points for the best haiku or limerick to explain why you think he took the sabbatical.  Be clever and sympathetic.)

It’s tough to make any conclusions when they are still yackety-yacking, so I will part with a prediction:  these pols will get their hits in and say what they have to say and Corzine’s plan will pass in relatively short order.  I would GUESS mid-March at the latest.  

Statehouse Chatter


Heard around Trenton

Looks like the Family Medical Leave bill is back on the docket!  This Monday (the 28th) Chairwoman Barbara Buono has budget committee hearings scheduled and Family Leave is number three on the playlist.  To confirm, thats January 28th, committee room 4, 1pm at the statehouse.

This is terrific news as Sen Buono was one of the original sponsors of this legislation that stalled in committee over the lame duck.  And now she runs the panel taking it up first.  

If you’re so inclined come show your support on Monday, because I know the business community will have their lobbying game on, too.  Last time we got thoroughly out-hustled by the nay-sayers who managed to keep the bill from advancing out of Assembly Labor Committee.

Personally I don’t want the progressives have their head handed to them again as we did last time when the assumption was “this’ll pass the lame duck no prob.”

Seen around Trenton

This one from the shady ladies who lunch file:  I was sitting in Cafe NJ (the Statehouse eatery) minding my own beeswax when I saw one of the cafeteria workers put out a tray of food to indicate today’s specials.

No sooner did Miss Thing arrange the entrees just so and walk away…. when someone comes by and scoops up the whole tray of food and casually walks off!

It happened so fast I didn’t even have time to be judgmental about it.  

In any event, this is the first time in my career that I have tagged a blog post with the word “shoplifting.”