Insider NJ’s Key Must-Read Pieces From The Past Week

Vainieri Huttle and Johnson

From Plainfield to Paterson to Phillipsburg, from LD2 to LD39, from Atlantic County to Bergen County, here are the Insider NJ key must-read pieces from the past week:

InsiderNJ’s Who’s Up and Who’s Down: Week of March 1st

See where the players stand in Jersey politics over the past week.

Schepisi Assumes the Command Position in LD39

Insider NJ had dubbed LD39 Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi as “the fighter.” But as the Bergen County attorney was gearing up for what she described as an unexpected race against Senator Gerald Cardinale—claiming that he was not going to seek re-election when she made her decision to run for state senate—New Jersey’s second-longest-serving senator (after Richard Codey) passed away on February 20. With Cardinale’s death at 86 years of age, the light began to immediately show between LD39’s two Republican assembly members.

Schepisi Stunned by Auth’s Surreal Behavior in LD39

Just when you thought it was over. When Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi said the race had been “wild” in an InsiderNJ interview less than 24 hours from the time of this writing, the LD39 soap opera made another dramatic turn. In the space of time between Insider NJ’s last publication on Holly Schepisi and Robert Auth releasing a statement of unity, where Schepisi would run for state senate and Auth continue for assembly, things changed. She learned through another press source that Auth had—apparently—done a one-eighty and was going to pursue the senate seat after all.

Bergen County Nightmare: LD37 Threatens to Upend the Power Structure

When they write the story of the downfall of this particular version of the NJ Democratic Party, they will say it started in Bergen, which is fitting, perhaps, for when it comes to New Jersey, even attitude-parochial Newark itself must finally endure that rather inauspicious second banana inscription of “New York suburb,” a condition arguably best embodied by wall-to-wall mall culture Bergen.

Vince v. Vince: The LD2 Terrain in the Aftermath of an Imploded Trump Plaza

The impending retirement of Republican Senator Chris Brown in the battleground 2nd Legislative District (35.3% Dem/25% GOP/38.5% unaffiliated) after just four years on the legislative throne meant a face-off for a presumably vacant senate seat.

The Hudson Political Test for Bayonne’s Mayor Jimmy Davis

Jimmy Davis suspected Nick Chiaravalloti was going to somehow get the drop on him.

Trouble in Bayonne

No one codified it, but it was always tacitly understood that assembly people in Hudson County served at the pleasure of the mayors.

As LD2 Flares, an LD1 and LD3 Symbiosis Abides

In 2017, the appearance on the landscape of a financially well-connected challenger left Steve Sweeney’s insular political universe jarred and his faith in the system shaken.

The LD37 Journey of Gordon Johnson: ‘Trenton is a City of Compromise’

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (D-37) stands in the forward position of the biggest Democratic Party conflagration in the state right now, as he battles longtime slate mate Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37) for the senate seat occupied by retiring Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-37).

Stampeding Zwicker Backs Sweeney for Senate Prez (and Other Nuggets)

Senator Kip Bateman’s (R-16) announced retirement created a few minor spasms of angst for Democrats, but not enough to throw Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16) off stride, as he formally collected the endorsement last night of the Somerset County Democratic Screening Committee.

LD16 Assembly Candidate Sadaf Jaffer: ‘People Shouldn’t be Cynical about Politics’

Sadaf Jaffer made history in 2019 as the first Muslim woman to serve as the mayor of a town in the United States, and she hopes to break another glass ceiling this year by winning an assembly seat in LD16 and becoming the only Muslim in the New Jersey Legislature.

Holley Outraged over Party Decision to Abandon Ally Staten in Union Bust-up

In anticipation of his Roselle ally, Union County Commissioner Andrea Staten, losing the Democratic Party line, Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-20) criticized Democratic Party leadership, specifically Union County Democratic Committee Chairman Nick Scutari, for going in another direction.

Howes Says Dems’ Choice would Deny Somerset Senatorial Courtesy

Somerset County Republican Committee Chairman Tim Howes said the Somerset Screening Committee’s decision to back Middlesex-based Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16) for senate indicates a shift in priorities for Somerset.

Plainfield Mayor Mapp Kicks off Reelection Campaign with Heavy Hitters in Attendance

Tonight was a long way from the New Democrat days for Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, the one-time reformer-agitator squirming on the outside of the incubator, who tonight announced his campaign kickoff for a third term as leader of New Jersey’s Queen City with all the main power players and bigwigs of the state lined up behind him.

The Fun Begins in LD26: DeCroce Targeted with Mail Piece

The letter – or actually a hit piece – targeting Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce showed up over the weekend in the mailboxes of GOP county committee members in LD-26.

LD26 Flashpoint: DeCroce Returns Fire

BettyLou DeCroce is fighting back.

Atlantic County Democratic Chair Awards the Line to Mayor Small

Atlantic County Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Suleiman today informed Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small that the incumbent mayor and his team will have the party line this year.

The Party Drive for Gender Neutrality

Politicos traditionally have tried to lessen the influence of the “old boys club” by mandating equal representation of men and women on county committees. Each district would have a male and female committee member.

Warren Dems Rebuke Phillipsburg Council President McVey for Sexist Remark

The Warren County Democrats today issued a statement regarding Phillipsburg Council President Frank McVey’s sexist remarks during last Thursday’s meeting of the public land use board.

Grewal Announces Indictments of Paterson’s Jackson and Mendez

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that Paterson City Councilmen Michael Jackson and Alex Mendez have been indicted by a state grand jury on charges of election fraud and other offenses related to the May 12, 2020 special election in the City of Paterson.

Atkins Running with Cryan and Quijano in LD20

Former Roselle Mayor Reginald Atkins will be running on the same ticket with Senator Joe Cryan and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano to represent New Jersey’s 20th legislative district in the Legislature.

Gordon Johnson on BlueWave’s Huttle Endorsement: If There Has Been A Process, I Have Been Excluded From It’

Taking issue with the endorsements of several progressive groups of Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle for the LD37 Senate seat, Assemblyman Gordon Johnson sent a letter to BlueWave NJ’s Marcia Marley expressing surprise that he wasn’t contacted ahead of the endorsement.

Inside the Republicans’ Plan to Improve Elections (Results!)

We’ve probably never seen so much commotion over voting itself, especially among Republicans.

Murphy ‘Stunned’ by Texas Decision on COVID

New Jersey is not Texas just in case you had any doubt.

Murphy Pushes Back Against Ciattarelli over Schools

Schools are a focal point in the political debate over COVID.

The Odyssey: Fred Snowflack’s Vaccination Voyage

As fate would have it, I signed up for the Covid vaccine myself a month or so ago, giving me the opportunity to do some “real” reporting on an issue.

A Sure Guarantee of Good Press

Excuse the cynicism, but what better way to seek “good press” than by supporting higher pay for journalists?

Heavy Reliance on Executive Orders Shows Need for Stronger Political Parties

These are unsettling times. Social unrest, braced by an increasingly polarized politics, made worse by the pandemic, has brought about a heightened sense of division in society and dissatisfaction with government.

Against the Tide of Logic

To many, the unsatisfactory conclusion to the impeachment trial of Donald Trump and the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol he inspired to stop certification of election results, has appropriately focused attention on the former president’s conduct.

The Battle over $15 is a 1930’s-like Defining Moment

By a 219 to 212 party line vote in the House of Representatives early Saturday morning Democrats managed to pass President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan with two party defections over solid GOP opposition including New Jersey’s Republicans Chris Smith (pictured, above) and Jeff Van Drew.

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