InsiderNJ’s Who’s Up and Who’s Down: Week of March 18th

Another week in the can and you can almost picture the New Jersey bosses of politics crowded into a room, clumsily trying to cut their own acoustic remake of the Traveling Wilburys signature song, with John Currie as Tom Petty, George Gilmore on the Bob Dylan backing vocals, LeRoy Jones as George Harrison. You can fill in the rest – Jeff Lynne, the Roy Orbison rocking chair – all of them crammed and jamming in more or less happy resignation …

Well, it’s all right riding around in the breezeWell, it’s all right if you live the life you pleaseWell, it’s all right doing the best you canWell, it’s all right as long as you lend a hand
You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring (at the end of the line)Waiting for someone to tell you everything (at the end of the line, of the line)Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring (at the end of the line)Maybe a diamond ring
Well, it’s all right even if they say you’re wrongWell, it’s all right, sometimes you gotta be strongWell, it’s all right as long as you got somewhere to layWell, it’s all right, every day is Judgment Day

 

Yes, it’s the end of the line, alright, fellas, by all indications, as the state awaits a decision this coming week by federal Judge Zahid N. Quraishi in a suit filed by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-3) challenging the constitutionality of the state’s primary ballot.

Insiders expect Quraishi to enter an injunction to change this coming June’s primary election ballot to bring it into alignment with the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of fair and just elections. In other words, they expect the judge’s granting of immediate relief to Kim. What happens next will be at the judge’s discretion, but given his line of questioning, the political classes are prepared (inevitable REM reference coming up) for the end of the county party organization line as we know it. The Legislature prepared for the decision, this week issuing a statement in the aftermath of AG Matt Platkin turning a thumbs down on challenging Kim’s challenge.

Said the leadership of both houses:

“We are committed to beginning a public process on ballot design in New Jersey, including a thorough and thoughtful review of other states, as well as a process that involves input from the public.”

What it will all look like once the judge drops his gavel (probably Thursday or Friday of the coming week) we don’t yet know, but we suspect an exciting new day at New Jersey politics (in the words of the great Mike Aron – “It you’re a reporter, New Jersey never lets you down”), even – or especially – when it’s the end of the line.

For now:

WHO’S UP

Fontoura

 

Armando Fontoura

An Ironbound original, New Jersey’s longest-serving sheriff this past week announced his retirement. The Essex County Democratic Committee subsequently announced its support for Amir Jones, son of LeRoy Jones, chair of the Essex County Democratic Committee.

Patricia Campos-Medina

The upstart U.S. Senate candidate in the Democratic Primary made the Camden County henchmen

Mugs from On the Waterfront resurfaced last week in Camden.

down there look like a bunch of On the Waterfront extras trying to land some tickets to the ballgame courtesy of Johnny Friendly. This low-rent high school production of Guys and Dolls was so bad, one insider opined an inside job by the organization to make Tammy Murphy look bad, intentionally undercutting its own rubber-stamped endorsement of Murphy. Or maybe it makes Campos-Medina look good to make Kim look like he’s not the only justice-option out there, thereby muddying the field and ultimately helping Murphy. Whatever. It happened. And Two Ton Tony Galento, Tami Mauriello, and Abe Simon would be proud.

Josh Gottheimer

Hanlon

The GOP’s nomination of a Trumpy in CD-5 falls right into the steel trap of the incumbent Democratic Congressman from Bergen County. Remember, Gottheimer – the consummate pragmatist – specializes in taking down ideologues. That’s what he did when he first hamstrung Scott Garrett with the argument that the Republicans’ Tea Party views failed to produce real dollars for the district.

Christine Hanlon

Whether the Kim case goes for or against the line, the Monmouth County Clerk made a very strong accounting of herself in Quraishi’s courtroom, as she outlined the real process challenges for clerks of working with block ballots.

WHO’S DOWN

Murphy

 

Phil Murphy

When it’s all over, they could always try to spin it as a front office “of differing points of view,” without the top-down handcuffs that dog other administrations. The governor, after all, is not a dictator, but a man of the people, and Matt Platkin, of course, is a person, with feelings, and, yes, by God, a point of view. And it is important for Governor Murphy – who doesn’t abuse power but dispenses power to others – to give freedom to allies to make decisions on their own about things as important as the direction of the state, the party, and who inhabits the United States Senate. Okay. Sure. We already have Gold Bar Bob. It’s time to bring back Bagdad Bob.

The bottom line is this: Platkin, in the words of News 12’s Eric Landskroner, went rogue, essentially publicly kneecapping his boss with a statement that undercuts the boss’s wife. If this were The Godfather, every state cop in New Jersey would be crowded onto the Studebaker running boards with Tommy Guns and bearing down on that North Jersey toll booth right now.

Ah, but that’s not Phil’s style. He doesn’t keep score, like the typical swamp drift of the state he discovered in such disarray when he landed in office after Bridgegate and resolved to clean up a brazen pit of power-overreach, corruption, and nepotism.

Camden Democrats

Those tough guys blocking the doors of the organization like bloated harpies from Greek mythology hardly reinforced the idea that the Democratic Party delivers on people power, unless what that means is bullying people who seek power.

Jim Devine

Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability this week announced the indictment of a political campaign manager from Hunterdon County who allegedly attempted to fraudulently place a candidate on the Democratic primary ballot in the 2021 race for New Jersey governor. The state grand jury in Trenton voted on March 12, 2024 to return an indictment charging James J. Devine, 62, of Lambertville, with three counts: offenses concerning nomination certificates or petitions (3rd degree), tampering with public records or information (3rd degree), and falsifying or tampering with records (4th degree).

Steven Fulop

Fulop

The Mayor of Jersey City’s decision to pull his support from Tammy Murphy to back Andy Kim looked like political opportunism. Ok, so far, so good. No one really quibbles with that. That’s a good thing in Jersey politics. But what it really indicates is division – significant division – in Hudson County, where Fulop might at least want to have secure the backing of his own backyard as he heads into the teeth of the 2025 gubernatorial contest. A rift between bosses Brian Stack and Nick Sacco means trouble for Hudson, and for the projection of a strong Fulop gubernatorial candidacy emerging from Hudson. Now, Fulop – who was never an organization guy to begin with, he bucked the HCDO to become mayor – can argue that if a judge’s decision results in the scrapping of the party organization lines, he will actually have an authentic leg-up on the progressive cause blazed by Kim. But the fact that he was with Murphy before he was against her at the very least highlights the particular challenge of being a statewide primary candidate in this very divisive atmosphere, and the task of entertaining line possibilities, while running in defiance of the line.

Mike Johnson

Toast.

“I’m not saying that it won’t happen in two weeks or it won’t happen in a month or who knows when. But I am saying the clock has started. It’s time for our conference to choose a new speaker”, said MAGA U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of the embattled Johnson in an ongoing toxic mess.

The NJGOP

It’s easy to say the Democrats are losers here, but in the finest tradition of western tragedy, in New

Serrano Glassner

Jersey, the Dems go through the tragic public rites to produce catharsis, while the GOP remain (for the most part) caged in what by comparison looks like a small time Trump torture chamber. As Tammy Murphy and Andy Kim push and shove in the primary, practically guaranteed by virtue of the numbers to spring a big turnout main event in time for the general election (probably mostly because of Roe v. Wade), you’d think Republicans would take advantage of all the division. This is their big opportunity. But unlike Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Knebworth Festival sticking it to the Rolling Stones, Republicans remain stuck in a less than compelling primary, with Curtis Bashaw in a stronger organizational position than self-proclaimed frontrunner Mendham Mayor Christine Serrano Glassner.

Maybe Serrano Glassner is banking on the weakness of the organizations to assert strength.

Kind of like Andy Kim, but Kim’s getting the splash, and unburdened by Trump and Greene (see above).

It’s volatile, with a judge’s decision imminent. …

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3 responses to “InsiderNJ’s Who’s Up and Who’s Down: Week of March 18th”

  1. In other news:

    Wayne’s Sean Duffy Officially Announces County Commissioner Race Along With Running Mates
    Sean Duffy, Derya Taskin and Pedro Liranzo to Run for County Commissioner

  2. Mayor Serrano Glassner is the BEST hope for the Republicans to take a U.S. Senate this year! Bashaw is a very rich RINO who’s throwing money all over the GOP, and he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016! The choice is CLEAR!

  3. Rich Murphy threw tons of cash at the NJ Democrat Party and they let him run for Gov. The Dems used that money to hone in on Congressional seats and look where the Ds are now. Two Terms of Murphy and they hold a majority of Congressional Districts in our state.

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