On April 29 of last year, six months to the day after Sandy made landfall, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stood with U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan in a seafood restaurant in Highlands, NJ. Surrounded by cameras, Donovan…
Six state Senators representing Monmouth and Oceans Counties have written to New Jersey’s U.S. Senators and Members of Congress asking for help in correcting inequities and inefficiencies in the federal government’s response to Superstorm Sanday.
In a letter dated March 31, Senators Jennifer Beck and Joe Kyrillos of Monmouth County, Robert Singer, Christopher Connors and James Holzapfel of Ocean County and Sam Thompson of Middlesex raised six issues concerning Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Small Business Administration (SBA), FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation(RREM) grant program.
With all those agencies and initials, how could anything be going wrong?
Former Assemlyman Dan Jacobson, publisher of the triCityNews weekly newspaper and AsburyParkSun hyper-local news website, launched his campaign to return to the legislature last week with his tCN column urging Senate Jennifer Beck to run for governor.
Jacobson served one term in the General Assembly, 1990-1991. He was swept out of office, along with the Democratic majority in the 1991 election over Governor Florio’s $2 billion tax increase, including sales taxes on toilet paper and food. In 2011 Jacobson registered as a Republican in order to challenge then Senator Sean Kean for the 11th district Senate nomination in the GOP primary. But the legislative redistricting commission foiled Jacobson’s plans by moving Kean’s hometown of Wall out of the 11th district into the 30th, and moving Red Bank, Beck’s hometown into the 11th.
Jacobson didn’t want to run against Beck. They’re friends and agree on most issues. And Beck’s political stardom is one of Jacobson’s major journalistic accomplishments. Just ask him. Jen Beck never even would have been elected to the Red Bank Borough Council if not for Dan Jacobson pumping her up in the triCityNews.
So Jacobson ran a pax-on-both houses Independent race for Assembly in 2011 to make a point. 2304 voters, 3%, got the point and have long since forgotten it. Obviously his heart wasn’t in the Assembly race. He really wants to be in the Senate, but he doesn’t want to run against Beck.
The obvious solution is for Beck to step up and run for governor. Jacobson rightly argues that the NJ GOP doesn’t have a viable alternative for a post-Christie candidate. The NJGOP is actually weaker now than it was before Christie was elected in 2009.
We’re hearing plenty about Bridgegate and Governor Christie’s response to it from cable news pundits and late night comedians. MMM thought it would be interesting to hear what our Monmouth County leaders, from both parties, have to say about the controversy and Christie’s response to it at his press conference last Thursday.
Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long, said “No, and I’m angry that some are tossing by name around as if I’m waffling about my endorsement,” when we asked her if she regretted endorsing Christie in light of the Bridgegate scandal. “Bridgegate is terrible, but it does not undue the Sandy recovery. My endorsement was based on the Sandy recovery. Let’s wait and see what happens when all the facts come out. Right now it’s a feeding frenzy.”
Senator Jennifer Becksaid, “The governor has always straight forward me with, and he was forthcoming in his press conference on Thursday. I believe him.”
Monmouth County Republican Chairman John Bennett said, “Governor Christie was open and sincere in his press conference. He said that he will now talk to everyone on his staff himself to get to the bottom of what happened. This issue may have gotten away from him because he departed from his usual practice of doing it all himself.
“Unfettered and overzealous politicos on Christie’s staff went way over the mark. The lane closures were a bad, bad idea that never should have happened.”
Monmouth County Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal hasn’t returned our calls since we debunked his malicious and inaccurate attempted character assassination of a Red Bank Republican Council Candidate last October, so we asked his predecessor, Victor Scudiery, and the man who opposed him in the chairman’s race in 2011, Frank LaRocca to comment.
Former Monmouth Democratic Chairman Victor Scudiery said, “I take Chris Christie’s word for it. We’ll have to play it out and see what happens. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon, it’s frightening, but we have to wait and see.”
The years are supposed to go by faster as we get older. 2013 missed the memo, at least for me. President Obama’s second Inauguration and Freeholder John Curley’s second swearing in seem like a long time ago.
Selikia Joshia Gore started us off in 2013 with a timeless call to renew our humanity; the ongoing struggle of saints and sinners to love one another regardless of standing, status or creed. It is a winning message that works only by embracing our failures without resigning to them.
The Governor. Governor Chris Christie started the year lambasting House Speaker John Boehner and the Congressional Republicans for playing politics with Superstorm Sandy aid and ended the year as the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. In between he built a bi-partisan and multi-cultural coalition that reelected him with over 60% of the vote in Blue Jersey. Christie had the best year of any politician in America. Only Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin had better years globally.
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. Menendez started the year on the losers list. Embroiled in a sandal of allegations of his cavorting with teenaged girls in the Dominican Republic and using the powers of his office to benefit the businesses of the donor who arranged the party, speculation was that he would resign as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, if not his Senate seat. Menendez seems to have survived an FBI investigation into his relationship with Dr. Saloman Melgan unscathed.
At the end of the year, Menendez’s position seems secure. He is the leading, and most powerful, critic of President Obama’s foreign policy. His approval ratings are net positive 22 points in the last Monmouth University Poll. He got engaged to be married earlier this month.
Given where he started, Menendez may have had the best 2013 of any New Jersey public figure, other than Christie.
The Gramiccionis. The Wall Township power couple had a very good year. In March, Christopher, the Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor and U.S. Naval Reserve Officer, received orders to report for a 9 month tour of active duty in Afghanistan effective in August. Those orders were canceled in July, keeping Chris on the job fighting crime in Monmouth County and home for the holidays. Deborah was appointed by Governor Christie to be the Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The job pays $289,657.
Monmouth County Republicans. Sheriff Shaun Golden, Freeholder Director Tom Arnone and Deputy Director Serena DiMaso were always expected to be reelected on the strength of their records and due to the fact that Monmouth County Independent voters usually vote Republican. They make the winners list by virtue of fact that they ran as if they were behind, not taking any votes for granted. More importantly, they ran a positive campaign based on reducing spending, holding the line on taxes, and improving services, in the face of yet another negative campaign on the part of the Monmouth County Democrats.
Monmouth County’s Legislative Delegation. Each member of Monmouth County’s Legislative Delegation deserves more recognition than space will allow.
The Battle of Monmouth is in the municipalities today.
Monmouth Democratic Chairman Vin Gopal is hoping to be the Gene Michael of politics. Michael, the New York Yankees General Manger in the early 1990’s, rebuilt the mediocre team back to dominant glory by focusing on new talent in the farm system. As a player, Michael was a master of the hidden ball trick. In baseball the hidden ball trick is when a position player fakes throwing the ball back to the pitcher after a play, only to tag out the base runner when he take a lead off the base.
Gopal hasn’t even fielded a team in 23 races in 16 Monmouth County towns. Yet he has the press and New Jersey’s Democratic leadership convinced he’s building a future empire from the bottom up.
But if he doesn’t deliver the goods tonight, Gopal could end up as a Hardy Peterson, the Yankees General Manager who only lasted in the job for one year, 1990, instead of Michael, and find himself challenged for the county chairmanship when his first term ends in June.
The towns to watch tonight are Red Bank, Aberdeen, Eatontown, Highlands, Hazlet and Marlboro.
Guv Chris Christie accepting Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider’s endorsement. Photo by Art Gallagher.
Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider, a Democrat, today endorsed the all female Republican team of legislators in New Jersey’s 11th district, Senator Jennifer Beck and Assemblywomen Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande.
“I have a worked closely with our legislators on a variety of issues,” said Schneider in a statement issued by the Republican legislators, “They always have the best interests of Long Branch in mind and have gone out of their way to help our residents. Senator Beck, Assemblywoman Angelini and Assemblywoman Casagrande manage to keep partisan politics out of the picture and focus on the issue at hand. I am proud to work with them and offer them my endorsement.”
In addition to endorsing the Republican legislators from his district, Schneider is one of over 50 Democratic elected officials who have endorsed Governor Chris Christie.
“Oh, that was nice of him,” said Red Bank Councilman Ed Zipprich, a Democratic candidate challenging Angelini and Casagrande, when informed of Schneider’s endorsement.
Monmouth County Democratric Chairman Vin Gopal was surprised that Schneider endorse all three Republican women representing the 11th. “He endorsed all three of them?” Gopal asked twice, “No, I have no comment.”
With remarkable teamwork on the part of the candidates, county and municipal leaders and key members of the legislative delegation outside of the 13th legislative district, the Monmouth County Republican Organization earned the resounding endorsement of a Republican electorate that has proven over the years that performance and integrity matter far more to them than party loyalty.
Big egos checked, big leaders pulled together to support each other. A real team emerged.
By virtue of his long term friendship with Governor Christie and his campaign for U.S. Senate last year, State Senator Joe Kyrillos is on every Christie mind reader’s short list of possible U.S. Senators to replace the late Frank Lautenberg.
Assuming Kyrillos defeats Leigh-Ann Bellew in the primary today, his move to the U.S. Senate would create a vacancy for the nomination for State Senate in LD 13. If either Assemblywoman Amy Handlin or Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon move up to the Senate slot, as would be expected, there will be an Assembly nomination vacancy.
Neither Handlin nor O’Scanlon will say if they want the State Senate seat, which probably means they both want it. Even so, I would expect that they would work that out amongst themselves rather than have a convention fight.
A nominating convention for the resulting Assembly vacancy would bring out a wealth of Republican talent.
Governor Chris Christie and Danny Shields in Highlands last week. Shields, an owner of Windansea, is Sen. Jennifer Beck’s husband. facebook photo.
Governor Chris Christie secretly underwent lap-band surgery in February. He has lost 40 pounds since, according to a report in the New York Post.
Christie told NYP that he underwent the aggressive weight loss procedure because he recently turned 50 and wanted to be around for his kids. He said it had nothing to do the presidential ambitions.
“I’ve struggled with this issue for 20 years,” he said. “For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them.”
He also insisted that, contrary to what observers may say, the effort to slim down was not motivated by thoughts of a presidential bid.
“It’s so much more important than that,” he said.
The governor went to great lengths to keep the procedure secret. He did not go to his surgeon’s office, having the doctor visit him at his Mendam home. He checked into the surgery center under an assumed name.
The surgery took 40 minutes on the morning of February 16. Christie was home in the afternoon after having a silicone tube placed around the top of his stomach.
Before having the surgery, Christie spoke privately with Jets coach Rex Ryan. Ryan had the procedure in 2010 and has lost 100 lbs. since. Dr. George Fielding of the NYU Medical Center’s Weight Management Program performed the surgery on both men.