Who’s Up and Who’s Down: 2020 Budget Deadline Edition

Insider NJ presents the week's winners and losers in New Jersey's political news during the week of the 2020 budget deadline.

Who’s Up This Week in NJ Politics

Steve Sweeney

Having successfully piloted through his version of a 2020 budget and worked with the assembly to also get it done on Speaker Craig Coughlin’s side of the Statehouse, the Senate President can bask in his masterful Trenton gamesmanship. No one right now is better at the inside game than Sweeney. The longer term political implications (see below), particularly within his own party, remain unclear. The way the allies of Governor Phil Murphy (and the governor himself) took hold of a progressive base versus machine boss political narrative, makes it difficult to picture Sweeney ever being able to do well in a Democratic Primary statewide. There are signs of overreach, too, even in the caucus, here and here. But again, things are so fluid. In a collision between Murphy and Sweeney benefactor George Norcross III, Murphy could end up on the ash heap of history. Or the governor’s manhandling of the boss could make him the darling – not only of the left – but of justice and sink Sweeney. But for the moment, the Senate President can convincingly perform a Jack LaLanne routine atop the Gold Dome.

Bridget Kelly

Facing a 13 month prison sentence, the Bridgegate defendant is “unbelievably happy” with the news that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear her case, the according to her attorney Michael Critchley.

Kamala Harris

The California Senator seized on the presence of front-runner former Vice President Joe Biden on the same debate stage on Thursday night and vivisected him on his recent comments about working across the aisle with segregationists in the 1970’s and his record of opposing federal oversight of busing to integrate schools.

Erica Clark

Honored here by her husband Newark Deputy Mayor Rahaman Muhammad, the Lieutenant Colonel this week shipped off to the Middle East to begin her second tour of duty.

Make the Road New Jersey

The civic action organization helped revive a seemingly dead wage theft bill passed on Thursday by the Senate and Assembly. They also celebrated a surprise positive ruling from SCOTUS which denied a citizenship question on the 2020 Census (for now).

Donnetta Bishop-Johnson

The celebrated Central Jersey educator on Saturday will helm the ninth annual Hillsborough Music Festival to shine a light on mental illness.

Who’s Down This Week in NJ Politics

Phil Murphy

The budget is an inside game and his inside game is less than stellar, let’s face it. The governor wanted the millionaire’s tax in this budget, and didn’t get it. Moreover, now things are very strained with both houses of the legislature. That said, Murphy appears committed to playing the long game, namely keeping his base galvanized for 2021 and individuating himself from a party that most regular people (brought up to speed with just a few basic facts) would probably find ghoulish and dismal. He also successfully stoked a ‘people versus the boss-run statehouse’ that could pay off for him in the event the Attorney General takes down a portion of the brain trust that now runs the statehouse.

Joe Biden

The former vice president delivered a weak debate performance on Thursday night, and found himself wondering if anyone got the license plate of the truck that ran over him following a prosecutorial inquisition by Senator Harris (see above).

Frank Raia

The former candidate for the Hoboken City Council was convicted this week of conspiring to promote a voter bribery scheme by use of the mail, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Michael Jackson

This from The Paterson Times: “A company connected to Alma Realty, owners of Center City Mall, provided a $450,000 mortgage when [the First Ward Paterson Councilman] Jackson sold his property on Grand Street that houses his restaurant Jacksonville more than two years ago, according to court records. Ellis Equities LLC filed a lawsuit in New Jersey Superior Court late last month alleging Jackson pledged his restaurant business as collateral and guaranteed the loan. The lawsuit is against Jackson, his restaurant Jacksonville Cafe LLC, and Grand Street Holding Group LLC, controlled by Lisa Vasquez of Fair Lawn, which purchased 325 Grand Street in Dec. 2016, according to public records.” A headache.

New Jersey

A budget-intensified squabble between Governor Phil Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature once again showed the overall governing haplessness, divisiveness, and pettiness of the NJ Democratic Party. Following Governor Phil Murphy’s fold on the millionaire’s tax, the allies of Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) will chest thump and declare victory. But the whole party is still convulsing over an ongoing investigation into tax incentives awarded to entities connected to South Jersey Democratic Party Power Broker George Norcross III. Maybe it will result in a purge the party needs (and was afraid to risk in the 2017 statewide elections), or maybe it will simply mean a greater level of dysfunction. One thing is clear, Sweeney is clearly better (see above) at the inside Trenton game. Where that puts him on judgment day is not yet clear.


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2 responses to “Who’s Up and Who’s Down: 2020 Budget Deadline Edition”

    • Funny. For a Norcross funded operation – every other ad on here is from the NJEA peddling their plan to make state taxpayers pay even more to address the most expensive and wasteful health plan in the county ( nearly 40k per family/ millions lost due to outright theft by dishonest doctors and government workers)

      I think this was a fair overview. The view for Murphy & public employee unions is that the entire state is over the top progressive and if they just run tv ads and hold press conferences & elected leaders will buckle like tomato plant in a heat wave. Yet it was the most progressive legislators who abandoned Murphy in this last cycle.

      As much as Murphy ridicules Chis Christie, Murphy is starting to make many of the same mistakes of overplaying his hand and believing his own propaganda. The state is clearly blue but it is far more moderate than Murphy & his team believe.

      One idea not often discussed, is the NJ legislature more moderate only because of George Norcross and his allies, or are they just smart enough to recognize the actual political landscape and exploit it?

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