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A Statehouse source sat in his chair with his body almost scrunched up so his entire frame seemed smaller, as if avoiding the potential for someone to grab one of his arms and yank him in one direction or the other.
“It’s horrible,” he confessed, as if cursed.
He was talking about the gravitational pull at the statehouse from the governor’s office on the one side and Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) on the other. He made the comment as Governor Phil Murphy conditionally vetoed another round of bills, supposedly without keying in some of the sponsors, infuriating even handfuls of would-be Murphy allies. (A source at the governor’s office disputed this contention, noting that Murphy allies notified every sponsor). But two lawmakers went on record in dispute.
But, in the words of another Democratic Party source, equally irritated by the war in his own party, “There are no heroes here,” he said.
“Steve [Sweeney] is too close to George [Norcross] and the governor’s office doesn’t know what’s going on,” he said.
Murphy Chief of Staff George Helmy supposedly came in to correct a lot of the mechanical problems in the front office.
Not his fault, the source said.
But too much is happening around Helmy on the political front as the governor’s allies attempt to thwart Sweeney while avoid getting upended.
“Everyone knows what George said about the governor’s wife is wrong, crazy,” said the source.
So when Sweeney executes an agenda that blatantly upsets the governor, it feels personal, the source said, as if Norcross’ spite is at work, the source griped.
It’s just a bad time to be a lawmaker right now, he added.
Sweeney has excellent mechanical know-how at the Statehouse, and maintains strong lines of communication with caucus-members, the source explained. But he’s too “George-centered,” the source reiterated, again citing the personal attacks by the South Jersey Democratic Party power broker. For his part, the governor is unfettered by having a boss and seems to personally lack mean-spiritedness, but is scattered and on shaky legs in Trenton, and poorly served by his political apparatus, the source said.
“No one wants to be here,” he groaned.