Tag Archive: Senate

“Don’t Back Down”

There are political races and there are track & field races. Both types of races have much in common, and who better to explain that than Carl Lewis?

Lewis, who won nine golds and one silver in four Olympic appearances, also ran for New Jersey Senate two years ago.  Not one afraid of challenges, he opted to run in the heavily Republican eighth district where he lived.  

No doubt, his fame was one factor that helped formulate his decision to throw his hat into the ring, but unlike another famous Burlington County office holder and Michigan native, Jon Runyan, Lewis’ credentials went beyond his accolades in the stadium. He’s the founder of the Carl Lewis Foundation, which supports youth programs along with wellness and fitness. He’s coached kids in his native Willingboro and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, his political career was aborted by a lawsuit initiated by the GOP that successfully challenged his district residency on a technicality.

Now, Lewis is leaving New Jersey for the warmer climate of Houston. Last night, he was presented with an award for all of his public service to the people of Burlington County, the people of New Jersey, and the people of the world.

In his remarks, Lewis reflects on his Senate race, what he’s learned as an Olympian, a phone call he had with Chris Christie, and a message to those who think Christie should be President.

We congratulate Mr. Lewis on the achievement award.  As he moves to Texas, we hope that he continues with his involvement and enthusiasm to move that state from red to blue.

In this video, Carl Lewis is introduced by Willingboro Mayor Jacqueline Jennings.

An Interview with Mark Alexander

If you’re running for office, it doesn’t hurt to have a good political lineage. Watching how the system works close up and having easy access to mentors can only be a plus. And Mark Alexander, who is competing with Senator Nia Gill for her seat in the 34th Legislative District, has a great pedigree. His father was a senior advisor and policymaker for President Lyndon Johnson, and Alexander has worked for several influential Democrats such as Senators Bill Bradley and Howard Metzenbaum, Mayor Cory Booker, and most notably President Barack Obama.

Currently on sabbatical from his position as a law professor at Seton Hall, Alexander is a Visiting Research Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University.

This afternoon, I spoke with him at his Princeton office which is festooned with Obama memorabilia. Alexander and I talked about the campaign, some of the issues of the day, and his work for President Obama.

(We also invite Senator Gill to participate in a similar interview if she wishes)

Fighting the Uphill Battle

Barbara Buono is not the only candidate who is facing an uphill battle against a popular GOP opponent this November. In the Seventh Legislative District (which covers the western part of Burlington County), Republican Senator Diane Allen has been a fixture in local politics. The former television broadcaster has been in the State Senate since 1998 and is one of the very few Republicans who can be categorized as “moderate” in a day when most of her colleagues span the range between “extreme” and “crazy.”

Allen has voted in favor of marriage equality and has been a leader in anti-bullying efforts. But her moderate stands on social issues are offset by her penchant to toe the party line on fiscal issues. She voted to retain tax breaks for millionaires and supported the pollution lobby by voting against the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

This year, Allen faces a challenger who is well-known in his community, but a newcomer to state-wide politics, Gary Catrambone.  He is a local elected official in Delran and a marketing executive.

While Allen is a decent Republican, it’s important to do what we can to elect Catrambone. Why? Because even if the two candidates are not that far apart on the issues, the race for control of the State Senate is second in importance only to the governor’s race. If Governor Christie is re-elected, a Senate President Kean would be a rubber stamp for Christie’s anti-middle class, anti-union agenda leading up to the 2016 presidential elections. And if Barbara Buono pulls off the upset we all hope she can, a Senate President Kean would make her challenges even more difficult given the shameful lack of support from many in her own party.

I spoke with Catrambone at his home in Delran last night. We talked about his background, why he is running for Senate, some of the hot issues in Trenton, and the most dangerous road in New Jersey.

Live Tweeting Senate Budget Committee

Blue Jersey will be live-tweeting the morning session of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today. It’s scheduled to start at 9AM, but these hearings always start late. Among those scheduled to testify are representatives from various health agencies, the Sierra Club, and the State League of Municipalities. Follow us on Twitter @bluejersey

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.

Examining the #NJAssembly Gun Safety Vote

If you listen to the clamor of the pro-gun proliferation crowd, you would think that the New Jersey General Assembly just passed 22 bills that usurp our Second Amendment rights. While I respect their concerns and their right to express them, this is far from the truth.

Of the 22 bills passed, almost one-third of them were passed in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion, receiving 70 or more votes in the 80-member chamber. Some are non-controversial “feel good” measures like expressions of support for the gun buyback program, and one (exempting gun records from the Open Public Records Act) was even initiated by Republicans. But probably to the dismay of the most ardent gun advocates, a few of these bipartisan bills have some teeth, including the prohibition of body-armor penetrating ammunition and the submittal of certain mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Both of these bills garnered 71 “yes” votes.

Of course, there were more contentious bills, all passed by the Democratic majority with little or no GOP support. Republicans voted against things like background checks for private gun sales, mandatory safety training and renewal of firearm purchaser ID cards every five years.

While Governor Christie has issued some snarky remarks about these initiatives, he has not yet indicated how he will handle these bills if and when they get to his desk. The Senate is scheduled to take up these bills in April, and there are several Democrats who are adverse to additional gun safety legislation. But assuming the seven bills that passed the Assembly with an overwhelming majority get to the Governor’s desk, he is likely to sign them. That would give him political cover, allowing him to pontificate that he is all for gun safety, while at the same time vetoing the remainder of the bills to shore up his Conservative base.

Below the fold: The list of bills that were passed last week, and the vote counts.

Gun Safety Bills Pass in #NJAssembly

Today, the New Jersey General Assembly approved 22 bills to reduce gun violence and promote safety. Some of the bills, like a 5-year renewal term on firearms ID card, passed on or close to party lines. Others, like exempting firearms registration data from the Open Public Records Act, were passed unanimously.

So now these bills go to the Senate where they face an uncertain future. The Senate Democrats are not as unanimously supportive of some of these bills, and the Democratic majority is less than that in the Assembly. According to Senate Majority Leader Weinberg, these bills will be heard in the upper house in April, during the budget break.

So far, Governor Christie has maintained his long-term position of refusing to indicate where he stands on these gun safety bills and other related issues. This is a political issue, and the fate of some of these measures will depend on how he directs his Republican colleagues to vote.

To see how your Assembly member voted, go to this link (in a few days – the site is not yet updated).

You can find the list of bills passed today in the Assembly below the fold.

Breaking: Lautenberg will not seek re-election


Thank you, Frank Lautenberg. For so much. For meeting a blustering Chris Christie with characteristic gristle when so many other younger but not stronger Democrats were unable to. For leading the fight for common sense policies on some of what threatens us – including high-capacity gun magazines, and the chemical alleyways that line some of our highways. The chattering class pegs Chris Christie as typical of New Jersey – brash, a little rude, powerful. But I think you’re a better emblem for what we really are, and not what reality TV simpletons and misguided columnists make New Jersey out to be. No, I’ll choose you – a tough old bird, decent and still quick, kicker of cancer ass, who’s had the time of his life in Congress – twice. Lucky man. Lucky us. Thank you, Senator.  

Via Star-Ledger:

“I am not announcing the end of anything. I am announcing the beginning of a two-year mission to pass new gun safety laws, protect children from toxic chemicals and create more opportunities for working families in New Jersey,” Lautenberg told the Star-Ledger. “While I may not be seeking re-election, there is plenty of work to do before the end of this term and I’m going to keep fighting as hard as ever for the people of New Jersey in the U.S. Senate.”

Lautenberg’s statement, just sent to press, includes more on his plan to formalize this announcement: “I will be traveling to my hometown of Paterson tomorrow to announce that I will not seek re-election in 2014.”

His office released this compilation of his story and record.

Star-Ledger compiled this career timeline.

Time For Christie to Stand Up To Senate Republicans

promoted by Rosi

Chris Christie has made a name for himself standing up to Republicans, as US Attorney when he indicted Republican politicians and now as Governor when he praised Barack Obama and recently slapped the House GOP around.

But these are carefully calculated moves, designed to give Christie the greatest political benefit and getting him something he wants. He would scream to the rooftops about tiny things like a delay in his friend winning confirmation to the NJ Supreme Court, then stay silent as his office leaked information on Bob Menendez during an election.

Today we see another example as Christie complains that his nominees for judgeship are being slow-played by Democrats in NJ.

“All we’re talking about is giving these guys a fair hearing,” he said. “It seems to me it’s time for the Senate to do their job.”

That could easily be turned around and sent to the Republicans in the US Senate, who are filibustering not only judicial appointments — Obama has fewer judges confirmed than any president in the first term for more than half a century — but also nominees to run the National Labor Relations Board and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Why? Not because they oppose the nominees, but because they oppose the boards themselves!

If Christie wants to be taken seriously when he complains about NJ Senate Democrats blocking his nominees then he needs to stand up to the US Senate Republicans doing that and far worse to President Obama’s nominees.

“Fasten Your Seatbelt,” here comes Senator Geraldo?

GeraldoUPDATE from Rosi I just want to remind people that the last time Geraldo was in the news was when he said Trayvon Martin’s decision to wear a hoodie was as responsible for his own death as George Zimmerman was. Prompting Geraldo’s own son to say he was ashamed of Geraldo’s idiotic remarks. That’s all. – Rosi

It’s difficult to imagine something this country needs less than a Fox News personality in the Senate, but Geraldo doesn’t agree with me:

“I mention this only briefly, fasten your seatbelt,” Rivera said on his radio show. “I mentioned this only briefly to my wife … but I am and I’ve been in touch with some people in the Republican Party in New Jersey. I am truly contemplating running for Senate against Frank Lautenberg or Cory Booker.”

Oddly enough, the Hill doesn’t mention Lou Dobbs as a potential primary opponent.

So, what’s your best Al Capone’s Vault or Map in the Sand Senate joke?