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In arguably a step forward for the Democratic Party-run government of Trenton, estranged antagonists Governor Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) actually spoke this weekend.
Party leaders were trying to come to an agreement about the so-called ‘dark money’ bill and Murphy was at first talking exclusively to Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19).
Eventually, the governor came around to speaking with Sweeney.
The senate president was calling around all weekend, gauging votes for the dark money override, while the governor’s allies simultaneously worked the phones.
Murphy and Coughlin have a comfort zone the governor lacks with the South Jersey-based Sweeney.
Occasionally, the imposing senate president and affable governor can be observed jawing on a public platform. But their backroom contact has been uncomfortable at best, all but cold storaged in the aftermath of a governor’s task force making a criminal referral to the state attorney general regarding 2013 tax incentives for South Jersey.
As he tried to hash a dark money compromise, however, the governor would speak with not only the senate president but lawmakers, including those lawmakers intimate with the bill in question.
One statehouse source cautioned against interpreting the weekend conversation as a big deal.
“Believe it or not, they do that occasionally,” the source said.