Points By Drew Pritt

A Sneek Peak At New Jersey 2009
June 27, 2008, 7:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I know the elections are not finished yet and it could very well change the dynamics after November, but already in New Jersey and Virginia, the important pre-election developments are coming together. Both states promise an interesting election off-year.



After the less than strong performance by U.S. Congressman Rob Andrews (D) in challenging U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D) its hardly likely any Democrat would challenge the embattled Governor, Jon Corzine (D) in the primary. There were rumbles of former Governor Dick Codey (D) coming back but that dissipated with the defeat of Andrews. So that leaves the battle royale in the Republican primary and three names keep coming back as the most active or strongest in preparing.

Lou Dobbs, the CNN anchor and managing editor for Lou Dobbs Tonight has been actively pursuing this race. He is currently an editorial columnist and syndicated radio show host. Lou Dobbs Tonight attracts about 800,000 viewers per night. How many translate to New Jersey voters is unknown but it could be a considerable amount. Dobbs is pro-choice, anti-gun control, and supports government regulations, as revealed in a 60 Minutes interview. Dobbs’ stance on trade has earned plaudits from some trade union activists on the traditional political left, while his stance on immigration tends to appeal to the right. Dobbs has been generally supportive of gay civil rights. In June 2006, as the U.S. Senate debated the Federal Marriage Amendment, Dobbs was critical of the action. He asserted that traditional marriage was threatened more by financial crises perpetuated by Bush administration economic policy than by gay marriage.

However, Dobbs may have alienated one key constituency, the Jewish voters. In July 2006, Dobbs criticized U.S. foreign policy as being disproportionately supportive of Israel, pointing out the U.S.’s rapid recognition of Israel in 1948, foreign aid to Israel, and other policy choices in the past and present.

Congressman Mike Ferguson (R) is a shrewd operative. After narrowly surviving reelection in 2006 and sensing the anti-incumbent mood, Ferguson is retiring, undefeated. He is currently the youngest member of the New Jersey Congressional delegation. Ferguson’s voting record is moderate by national Republican standards. His lifetime American Conservative Union rating is 74, second-highest in the state’s congressional delegation. For more traditional Republicans, Ferguson is right on all the issues. Ferguson voted to ease the burden of the marriage penalty and remove the marriage tax. Ferguson also voted to double the per-child tax credit to $1,000. He is anti-choice and voted for the Federal Marriage Amendment. He does tend to move to the left on some issues. He voted to prohibit human cloning, voted to establish a national depository for umbilical cord-blood stem cells and voted to promote federally funded research of stem cells taken from umbilical cord blood. He also supported legislation to renew the Assault Weapons Ban, to close the gun-show loophole, to strengthen and improve background checks, and to create handgun safety standards. As a result, the National Rifle Association has rated Congressman Ferguson’s record in the House as an “F.”

Tom Kean, Jr., the son and namesake of a popular former Governor, is a State Senator and on November 8, 2007 he was elected to serve as Minority Leader of the New Jersey State Senate. This came days after Kean had lost a contentious U.S. Senate race against Bob Menendez. Kean was appointed to the New Jersey General Assembly, the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature, in April 2001, to fill out an unexpired term then was elected to a full term in the Assembly in his own right in November 2001. In March 2003, he was appointed to the New Jersey Senate, to fill out another unexpired term and then in November 2003, he was elected to fill the seat he had been appointed to. In 2004, Kean was elected Senate Minority Whip, a position he held until 2007.

In the state legislature, Kean has been a proponent of ethics reform in New Jersey government. He was the original sponsor of legislation banning pay to play practices in New Jersey. He has sponsored legislation to streamline government, promote education, protect the environment, and lower property taxes. Kean is also a huge proponent of alternative fuels, is pro-choice, but demonstrates a more conservative bent on immigration and gay rights, then his father.

Steve Lonegan was the mayor of Bogota, New Jersey, a small community just west of New York City, from 1995-2007. In the 2005, Lonegan ran for Governor of New Jersey. He lost the Republican nomination for governor to businessman Doug Forrester and 2001 Governor nominee and former Mayor of Jersey City Bret Schundler, who ran second. Lonegan built and managed retail, custom homebuilding and manufacturing businesses employing dozens of workers, prior to becoming Americans for Prosperity state director for New Jersey. In July of 2006, Mayor Lonegan called for a boycott of McDonald’s, after the chain posted a Spanish-language billboard in the borough promoting its iced-coffee, as he felt that the use of Spanish in the ad sends a message that Hispanic immigrants do not need to learn English. In an October 17, 2007 interview, Lonegan stated that he is an advocate of an immigration reform but that he does not support President George W. Bush’s proposal of a guest worker program that will not lead to a legal permanent residence in the United States.


It could be a grudge match if Ferguson and Kean both enter the race. In 2000, Ferguson defeated Kean in a Congressional primary. After the 2000 election, Tom Kean Jr. subsequently sued Mike Ferguson and the Council for Responsible Government. The complaint alleged that Ferguson and the Council illegally coordinated their messaging. The complaint also alleged that the Council funded and distributed a brochure under the guise of a nonpartisan group while acting as a partisan advocacy group on behalf of Ferguson. In June 2003, after a three-year dispute with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Congressman Ferguson agreed to pay $210,000 for a loan that he made to his campaign during his first election of $525,000 from a trust established for the Congressman by his parents. The FEC claimed that this loan from the trust equated to a gift from his parents. According to Federal law, the cap on personal contributions from an individual to a candidate is capped at $25,000 per election cycle. The fine was one of the highest ever paid to the FEC. While Kean said justice had been served, Ferguson maintained that he did nothing wrong.



In 2009, New Jersey voters will elect their very first Lt. Governor. It is anticipated a number of familiar faces will seek this office as a stepping stone to the Governorship in 2013. Starting with the Democrats, frequent names heard are U.S. Congressman Rob Andrews, State Senator Nia Gill, U.S. Congressman Rush Holt, Jr., State Senator Loretta Weinberg, N.J. Commissioner Susan Bass Levin, and State Senator Paul Sarlo.

For Andrews this could be a race of redemption.  In 1987, he was elected as a member of the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders. In 1990, after 15-year incumbent James Florio resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives to take office as Governor of New Jersey, Andrews won a special election to succeed him. He won a full term later that year and has been reelected seven times without serious opposition. In 1997, Andrews ran for Governor himself and fell some 5,000 votes short of winner Jim McGreevey, out of 350,000 votes cast. Andrews is generally considered a moderate by New Jersey Democratic standards. The New York Times has characterized Congressman Andrews as “fiscally conservative…and socially moderate.” Using Amtrak to commute from his New Jersey home while Congress is in session, Andrews is an ardent supporter of Amtrak subsidies. He suddenly announced he would challenge incumbent Senator Frank Lautenberg in the 2008 Democratic primary in New Jersey and later lost. Andrews’ wife, Camille, won the Democratic nomination to succeed him in the U.S. House.

Then Governor-Elect Corzine said on November 11, 2005, that he would consider appointing Nia Gill to fill his vacant seat in the United States Senate following his resignation to become Governor of New Jersey. He later picked Bob Menendez, who is hispanic. But this African-American State legislator has been a key ally of Corzines. Before her service as State Senator, Gill served in the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature, the General Assembly, from 1994-2001, where she was Minority Whip from 1996 to 2001. Gill is a sponsor of the measure recently signed into law to criminalize the deprivation of civil rights by public officials, making racial profiling a state crime. She has also sponsored the New Jersey Civil Rights Act, which would give individuals a remedy whenever one person deprives another person of any rights, privileges or immunities or interferes with another’s civil rights. Gill has support garnered with working families however by sponsoring legislation that provides a $3,000 income tax deduction for certain families providing home care for an elderly relative, legislation that abolishes the death penalty in New Jersey, and has also sponsored legislation allowing PAAD recipients freedom of choice in selecting a pharmacy and prohibits the imposition of a mail order system. The Senator also sponsored legislation that establishes a central registry of domestic violence orders for use in evaluating firearm permit applications, sponsored legislation to upgrade crimes of the third degree. In addition, Senator Gill is the first African American and the first woman in the history of New Jersey named to serve on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.

Rush Holt, Jr. was born to Rush D. Holt Sr., who served as a United States Senator for West Virginia (1935–1941), and his wife Helen Holt, the first woman to server as West Virginia Secretary of State (1957–1959). From 1989 until his successful congressional campaign in 1998, Holt was the Assistant Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory at Princeton University, the University’s largest research facility and the largest center for energy research in New Jersey. Holt was also a 5-time winner on the gameshow, Jeopardy! Holt’s focus on environmental issues has led him to produce campaign bumper stickers whose predominant color is green. His scientific background has led to them reading, “My Congressman IS a rocket scientist!”

Before being named to the Senate seat, Loretta Weinberg served in the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature, the General Assembly, from 1992-2005. In the Assembly, Weinberg served as the Deputy Minority Leader from 1994-2001. Besides her work in Trenton, Weinberg has also been active in a number of community organizations including the American Red Cross, Shelter Our Sisters, the Bergen Family Center, AARP Teaneck Chapter, New Jersey Network of Women Elected Officials, National Organization of Women Legislators and the National Council of Jewish Women. Weinberg has been a key legislative ally and leader for Corzine since he became Governor.

Susan Bass Levin served as Mayor of Cherry Hill from 1992-2002. She then served as Commissioner of Community Affairs in the cabinets of former Gov. James McGreevey and former Gov. Richard Codey from 2002 to 2005. She resigned from the cabinet in June 2005 to head up operations for Corzine’s gubernatorial campaign. She returned to Trenton as the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), serving in the cabinet of Governor Corzine since he was into office on January 30, 2006. In December 1996, Bass Levin was a member of the New Jersey State Electoral College, one of 15 electors casting their votes for the Clinton/Gore ticket. Levin did make one political misstep. She ran for Congress against Jim Saxton (R) in the 2000 election raising $1.7 million dollars, along with a visit from President Bill Clinton. Bass only managed to gain 42% of the vote in New Jersey’s 3rd congressional district.

Paul Sarlo has served in the New Jersey State Senate since 2003, where he represents the 36th Legislative District. Sarlo is the Assistant Majority Leader of the Senate, a position held since 2004. Before his service as State Senator, Sarlo spent one term in the General Assembly, the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature, from 2002-2003. In the Assembly, Sarlo was the prime sponsor of the bill creating a $29 million grant to establish a statewide bio-terrorism response plan. He also sponsored legislation to restore the Office of Public Advocate and to provide benefits and incentives for members of volunteer fire departments and rescue squads. He has also taken leading roles on legislation related to the health and welfare of women and children. In addition to his legislative duties, Sarlo is Chief Engineer at Bishop-Sanzari Heavy Construction. He has has overseen more than $150 million in projects and has worked with a skilled workforce of more than 200 men and women. He worked on the Route 4 and Route 17 interchange in Paramus, which was completed two years ahead of schedule.



For Republicans, the name on everyone’s lips is State Senator Diane Allen. Also, former U.S. Congressman Bob Franks, who lost a U.S. Senate bid to Corzine in 2000, as well as Lonegan & Kean, are mentioned.

Allen has been serving in the New Jersey State Senate since 1998, where she represents the 7th Legislative District. She served as the Deputy Republican Conference Leader from 2002-2003 and as the Majority Whip from 1998-2001. She was a member of the lower house of the New Jersey Legislature, the New Jersey General Assembly, from 1996-1998. In 2000, she made an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate, losing to millionaire businessman Doug Forrester. For a Republican, Allen is VERY progressive. She has served on the Martin Luther King Commission since 1998 and the New Jersey Human Relations Council since 2003. She has been the Senate’s Deputy Minority Leader since 2006, and serves in the Senate on the Education Committee and the Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. Allen also has a following from her days as a television news anchor. Allen was a television anchor and reporter for KYW-TV from 1976 to 1978, and again from 1982 to 1988 and at WCAU-TV from 1989 to 1994, both in Philadelphia, but whose markets crossover into New Jersey. She is pro-choice and pro-gay rights.

Bob Franks was the rising star of the New Jersey GOP at one point. Franks initially was a Republican Party operative and a newspaper publisher. In 1979, Franks was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, where he served until being elected to the U.S. House in 1992. He served four terms in the House from 1993 to 2001. While he was a congressman, he was a member of the Transportation Committee and involved with transportation issues. Franks served two stints as chairman of the New Jersey Republican State Committee.

In 2000, Franks gave up his House seat to become the Republican candidate to the open Senate seat from New Jersey. However, he was defeated by Corzine, a former CEO, by $48 million dollars. Yet it still was the closest election the Republicans have ever come to winning a New Jersey Senate seat since 1972. Franks entered the 2001 governor’s race following the sudden withdrawal of former Governor Donald DiFrancesco and it is believed this late start cost him the primary as Mayor Bret Schundler, a social conservative, had a big head start in campaigning and fundraising. Franks currently serves as President of the Health Care Institute of New Jersey.



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SJ Mills Of CAIPNJ Announces That He Has Launched An Exploratory Committee For The 2009 New Jersey Governors Race!

SJ Mills of CAIPNJ announced today that he is putting together an Exploratory Committee to inquire and study whether there is sufficient basis for him to “throw his hat in the ring”, and run for the seat of the New Jersey Governors Office in the 2009 New Jersey Ballot Elections, thus replacing the seat that is currently held by Democratic Governor Jon Corzine.

“New Jersey needs a fresh start, with a new face, a brand new direction and fresh ideas with someone that is looking out for the interests of the Consumers of this State, and I feel that I am that person. I have been conducting studies and conversations with numerous Economists and Neighborhood Leaders to implement a plan in order to substantially put New Jersey back in to the hands of the people; where it should be.”

Visit http://www.sjmills.com or http://www.caipnj.org to help get SJ Mills on the 2009 Ballot.

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