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Archive for the ‘Mercer County’ Category

I was recently reminded of what is easily my favorite political story of the last five years. It involves Democrat Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts candidate for Senate who was running in a special election earlier this year.

Toward the end of what was universally panned as one of the most neglected and worst run campaigns in MA Democratic political history, Coakley made some comment ( and I’m paraphrasing here ) along the lines of, “what do you expect me to do??!! stand outside Fenway Park to shake hands??!! In the cold?!! I don’t think so.”

Really. Well, we all know what happened next. Scott Brown the Playgirl centerfold went on to defeat her with his simple retort about the seat they were both seeking not belonging to Kennedy ( Teddy, who held it for about 176 years ) but to the people of the Commonwealth.

I’m reminded of this for a couple of reasons. First off, Repubs have begun a  whisper campaign that both Holt and Pallone are in trouble in their normally safe districts. That may be true. But the real danger for the Democrats is in the 3rd which we recently learned was not underestimated at all by the South J Dems. According to the implication in Jane Roh’s excellent stories…the Dems took Runyan so seriously, the created a fake Tea Party candidate to siphon off 5% of the vote…which might be just enough for Adler to win.

The 3rd is one of the three races State House people have been watching closely. the others are the 14th Legislative District and The Bergen Exec race.

Governor Christie has not been very visible in any of these. That’s not to say he is not doing what he can behind the scenes…but it is slightly odd. The 3rd is a high profile Congressional race in a year pundits are predicting a “Republican Tsunami.” The Bergen race is key to a large county that I am sure the Governor would like to win in 2013. And the 14th is the first true test of the Governor’s positions and policies in a swing district.

Here is what I have been told. Up in Bergen, Christie is still annoyed he didn’t win the county and has not been thrilled with some of the positions Kathe Donovan has taken. Meantime, At least one Dem says they are happy over in camp McNerney that Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club has decided to be so vocal for Donovan because that might actually help The Democratic ticket in a county fed up with environmental regs.

As for the 14th…it’s a bit more of a mystery. Insiders tell me that Goodwin is up more than 10, according to internals. That might explain why Greenstein went so negative about women’s health ( the ad actually features a pink ribbon on a gravestone ). Christie may not want to rehash that debate on the campaign trail even if it’s for a fellow Repub and not himself.

Or perhaps the Governor will jump into all three with both feet in the next coupla weeks. After all, he has been jetting all around the country for fellow Republican Gov candidates in other states.

So, I guess the message is this…don’t take anything for granted. These three races are significant for the Republican party and Christie doesn’t want to be seen as the guy who goes on MSNBC but refuses to shake hands outside the local stadium.

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On primary night, Governor Christie was supposedly on his way to Gooch headquarters when results began to suggest he should take the victory party elsewhere. At that point a decision was made to drop in on Jon Runyan in Mount Laurel who was getting ready to celebrate his less-than-overwhelming victory.

Far be it for me to give anybody advice, but if I were Runyan’s handlers I might call on the Governor to do all the talking in this race. Perhaps Christie can run for Congress in the 3rd while simultaneously running the state. After all, he is very popular in the district ( perhaps at an all-time high ), and the Governor is a natural campaigner. Adler will no doubt be a tough opponent, but I think Christie can beat him.

I’m sort of kidding here obviously, but The Christie factor is going to be significant in three races this Fall that are worth noting. The other two are in Bergen and Mercer Counties: The Bergen County Exec. race and the Senate race in the 14th. Let’s start with the latter.

I did a profile of this race recently. It’s for Baroni’s old seat, Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein for the Dems versus Tom Goodwin the sitting Senator for the Repubs. Anyway, a Democrat approached me after the story aired to break my you-know-whats for making the race too much of a microcosm for what is going on statewide. Greenstein’s district includes a good number of public employees. People like Barbara Kershisian and Charlie Wowkanech were at her rollout. She is definitely going to run standing with the unions. And Goodwin is definitely going to stick with the Governor who is taking on those same unions. Like it or not, that race will be a good barometer of where people are after the Christie budget goes through…because the 14th is most certainly a swing.

I haven’t been paying too much attention to the Bergen race, but it is also interesting as the Governor’s shadow looms large. Kathe Donovan was reportedly on the short list for LT Gov. but she did not get it…just in case you have been living in cave. On Mars. With your eyes closed. And and your fingers in your ears ( not my joke, actually – credit Sideshow Bob’s brother Cecil from an episode of the The Simpsons ) . So, the Governor appears to be eager to try and help her win this race. Donovan is a strong candidate. And a few weeks ago, I would have told you she will do so with ease, but now I am not so sure.

The conventional wisdom was that Dennis McNerney was a machine guy who could not stand on his own, but now that Joe Ferriero is out of the picture, McNerney is actually emerging as a better candidate without him. Besides, he has brought in some Corzine people who are eager to get another crack at trying to beat Christie.

So, these three races will, in my mind, be telling about where people are on Christie’s policies. Whoever said all politics is local? That is not always the case in New Jersey with it’s strong, centralized state government.

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Like Many New Jersey counties, Mercer is in the red. County Executive Brian Hughes has proposed voluntary furloughs for some of the 1,900 public employees. Here, he takes a page from california and more recently the state of New Jersey.

Governor Corzine has also proposed 2 furlough days for state workers – 1 in may and 1 in June. Of course those would NOT be voluntary. Communications Workers of America which represents 40,000 state workers says no way. If they can’t beat the Governor is court, they’ll file complaint with the NLRB. They claim it’s violation of their 4 year contract. Corzine asked the union to reopen the contract and take wage freezes. that was also a non-starter.

In Mercer Hughes says all options are on the table, but even he admits worker give-backs will not solve a $43 million hole over two years.

We know the economy is bad and governments at all levels are hurting…but it will be curiuous to see how much of that burden is shared by public employees. Clearly there are some parallels in all of these cases.

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