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Archive for the ‘Loretta Weinberg’ Category

A caucus united can never be defeated. Especially if they are in the majority. Second time was a charm for the Senate Dems who have now subpoenaed Bret Schundler and Wireless Generation for an October 7 meeting of the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee.

Originally, Chair Barbara Buono was gonna subpoena members of the Christie Administration. However, the Gov and Sweeney cut a deal that would require the Executive Branch to turn over some documents while avoiding a constitutional you-know-what match over Exec privilege. However, Buono took a week and built support again for a resolution…this time limiting the scope of the Subpoenas. However, I am told there were still some behind the scenes machinations. The Governor appears to still be in damage control mode on this.

When Dems went into caucus to discuss the resolution, they came down to the floor ready to vote for it. However, sources say that Senator Teresa Ruiz began to waiver. Apparently, someone from the Gov’s office reached out to Joe D in Essex who urged Ruiz to abstain. However, a handful of Democrats told Ruiz that was unacceptable especially after they agreed to stay united in caucus. One insider says Senator Loretta Weinberg spoke to Ruiz sharply, warning her on the floor that she would “not be welcome in the caucus any longer” if she abstained. At least two other Democratic Senators backed Weinberg up saying to Ruiz in effect, “you can’t do that.”

In the end, Ruiz did vote for the resolution but then left the Senate Chamber “visibly upset.”

Another interesting development was on the Republican side yesterday. The two women Republican Senators – Diane Allen and Jen Beck abstained on the resolution. Beck had been summoned to Christie’s office before the vote. Some have floated the theory that Beck and Allen took an awful lot of hell for voting against the override on women’s health. Perhaps they were sending a message to the Gov’s office that they will NOT be in lockstep on everything with him, and he needs to not take them for granted.

In fact, Allen went so far as to make a speech on the floor regarding women’s health claiming there simply was no money in the budget for the $7.5 million appropriation. $7.5 million is not all that much in the grand scheme of things. After all, the budget is roughly $30 billion. But, if every penny is going to be scrutinized these days, one could certainly make a fair argument that it’s hardly chump change. But let’s not also forget that in April, The Christie Administration managed to give a $45,000 grant to the “Cake Boss” in Hoboken. That’s right, according NJ Policy Perspective, Carlo’s City hall bake Shop in Hoboken which is featured in the TLC reality show secured a grant through the state’s Business Employment Incentive Program. These are the same guys who donated Christie’s inauguration cake….and more state money may become available to the Cake Boss, depending on how they use the money. Consistency is a virtue.

For now, the Republican caucuses have remained tighter than the respective Democratic ones. But it sounds like the Dems got it together this week and now have an issue that motivates and unifies them. According to Christie, he has told his staff that in politics, everything is temporary. You gotta let the caucus know that you appreciate their support…and don’t automatically expect it.

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In yet another extraordinary development in the debate over gay marriage, supporters are now calling on Senate President Dick Codey to hold the bill during Thursday’s Senate voting session.

In a letter to Codey from Senator Loretta Weinberg who is a prime sponsor of the bill, she asks that the Assembly be given an opportunity to consider the legislation coming off of Monday night’s hearing in the Senate Judiciary committee.

Supporters of the gay marriage bill say that although it passed only narrowly by a vote of 7-6 Monday night, it was historic in nature. They argue that many more people want to be heard on this issue. In addition, a sweeping amendment by Republican Senator Bill Baroni was introduced that would exempt religious groups and institutions from having to perform same sex marriage. ( btw – opponents of gay marriage say the Baroni amendment doesn’t actually do much, nor does it grant protections that are not already outlined in the constitution )

A Democratic insider who is close to the negotiations says they are “confident momentum is on their side.”

Here is the bottom line: the votes are not there in the Senate. And it appears as though they are there in the Assembly – to clear the both the Judiciary committee and to pass the full house. Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts is unlikely to give dates for the upcoming hearing and subsequent floor debate, but I understand it could be early January.

Initially, members of the Assembly had said they would not consider gay marriage until the Senate passed the bill. That thinking seems to have now been turned on its head.

Senator Ray Lesniak says Codey has already agreed to hold the bill.

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It has got to be one of the most stunning questions ever asked in a political debate.

I mean, enough about substance. Let’s get to the heart of the matter here, folks…it’s not driving records or financial entanglements it’s Christie’s weight.

Both Weinberg and Guadagno handled the matter with aplomb. And in fairness, it was in the context of a question about negative campaigning. But what an awkward thing to have to answer. And unfortunately, it sorta overshadowed some of the other answers on topics that were handled thoughtfully by all three candidates.

I agree with Alan Steinberg who felt Guadagno was effective Thursday night in blunting criticism over Christie’s health care proposal that has devolved into a shouting match over mammograms. In fact, where has she been? They mighta sent her out for interviews before independent women started breaking D.

As for Weinberg, It seemed like the deck was stacked against her a bit. The crowd was raucous and clearly not on her side. And she was bullied to give better answers, which came off a little harsh. She was a bit short on substance in explaining what more would be done with another four years.

Esposito was reasoned and measured. He didn’t quite shoot to super stardom with his performance ( a la the romance that blossomed after the Gov debate between the media and Chris Daggett ), but he needed to make a case for an alternative, and clearly managed to do that.

It’s an interesting thing to be adding a new statewide office holder. It truly changes the nature of gubernatorial campaigns in a¬† significant way. It also changes that weird dynamic which put the Senate President in charge on the executive branch should the Governor become unavailable to serve.

So, history was made last night as people got a closer look at the candidates who would fill this brand new position. History was also made when the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor¬† was asked to assess the lb’s of the man who wants to defeat the incumbent.

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