When the calendar turns to 2022, people celebrate, but political junkies begin wondering what’s going to happen in the new year.
In that vein, here are some questions to ponder.
What’s Phil Murphy going to say in his second inaugural address?
As all who care about this sort of thing know, Murphy is the first Democrat in more than 40 years to make a second inaugural address.
That in itself makes it newsworthy.
Beyond that, the question is what tone will the re-elected governor take?
He can be conciliatory to his opponents, as may suit a man who won reelection in a Democratic-state by a mere three points.
Or with no reelection to worry about and Steve Sweeney, a Democratic, but somewhat conservative, presence gone from the Senate, Murphy may feel emboldened to keep pushing a left-leaning agenda. The Democratic majorities in both chambers remain strong.
This brings us to a related question.
Just how will some of the more demonstrative Republicans behave in 2022?
Convinced that their very freedom is at stake, will the protesters in the Assembly continue to challenge rules in place to help them and everyone else remain safe? Cynics may see the recent protests as juvenile posturing, but the activity greatly pleased the GOP’s conservative base, so for that reason alone, it may continue.
And then there’s Edward Durr, the now-heroic Republican from South Jersey who ousted Sweeney. For that reason, Durr has gotten far more publicity than an incoming freshman senator normally gets. But the real game is about to start.
As a neophyte to government, will Durr strive to acquaint himself with the arcane nuts and bolts of drafting legislation, or will he be a loud dissident shouting from the cheap seats?
In short, and with a nod to the extreme, does he want to be a serious legislator or a Trenton equivalent of Marjorie Taylor Greene?
In a recent Facebook post, Durr aligns with the Assembly protesters and vows, “We can not allow our rights to be stolen from us.” Does that give a hint as to how he plans to approach his new job?
If we look beyond Trenton, we come to the midterm elections.
Republicans still may be annoyed, understandably so, at how John Wallace picked the Democratic map, but now that the boundaries have been drawn, all have to live with them.
Of the state’s 12 districts, two will get some attention here – the 7th and the 8th.
It was no secret that CD-7, where Democrat Tom Malinowski is the incumbent, was going to be redrawn to accomplish two things – bolster nearby Democratic districts and allow Republicans (probably) to win back the district. Under this scenario, the Dems’ congressional advantage in New Jersey would shrink from 10-2 to a still, comfortable 9-3.
Some have wondered if Malinowski, who presumably could return to a job in the State Department, will even run again in a district that now includes much GOP terrain in Warren and Sussex counties. That’s one question.
Another one is, will there be a serious primary battle on the GOP side in CD-7?
Party regulars assume Tom Kean Jr. who narrowly lost last year to Malinowski, will be the Republican candidate.
Enter John Flora, the mayor of Fredon in Sussex. He had planned to run in CD-5, but when the new map put his hometown in CD-7, that is where he is running. He says he wants to be with his people.
Flora sounds like he’s ready to wave the flag of grassroots conservatism.
In a recent Facebook post, Flora takes aim at political family dynasties and has the audacity to call (correctly) the young Kean a “3-time loser” when it comes to running for Congress.
Malinowski couldn’t have said it better himself.
Speaking of family dynasties, let’s move to CD-8 where Robert Menendez Jr. is the establishment choice to replace the retiring Rep. Albio Sires.
Even if you employ the caveat that nothing should surprise anyone when
it comes to party politics, it still seems a bit surprising to see Murphy and all other Democrats of note tripping over each other to embrace Menendez Jr., whose main attribute is having a father in the U.S, Senate.
The question here is not whether the young Menendez will win the seat,
but whether anyone in the Democratic establishment will have the courage to say, “Nepotism of this type is simply wrong and it makes us all look bad.”
What do you think?