Union, Nine Days Out: Phil ‘Heck of a Job’ Murphy Campaigns with Menendez in Scutari Country

Team Malinowski arrives.

SCOTCH PLAINS – In the civil wars of New Jersey politics, there are no real casualties; just injured egos under icy exteriors insisting on civility amid uncomfortable finery.

That was the scene this morning in the opulent Pantagis, as Democrats who collectively survived Senator Nick Scutari versus Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr for the chairmanship earlier this year came together for the final nine-day weather of the 2018 general election.

Menendez works the room.

Scutari defeated Mahr for the chairmanship and now the senator from Linden – a day removed from voting on a resolution that would grant subpoena power to a select committee investigating the hiring practices with the administration of Governor Phil Murphy, heaped praise up the governor.

He was rough on Gov. Chris Christie, Scutari was quick to point out.

Now, he’s got an ally in there.

“He’s doing a heck of a job,” Scutari said, and not just on marijuana legalization, cracked the marijuana legalization leader in the senate.

Of course, he left the part out about subpoena power.

Scutari’s ally, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) hit the phones this weekend, gauging and rousting support for the resolution, the set-piece for Monday’s session. He figures to have the votes.

“No choice,” a source in the big, fork and knife-clanking breakfast hall told InsiderNJ, referring to empowering the select committee to examine the how’s and why’s of the administration’s hiring of Al Alvarez after fellow Murphy Campaign worker Katie Brennan charged him with rape.

Working the microphone behind U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), a campaigns-animated Murphy, for his part, appeared wholly focused on the election.

He committed – and made the sale for Menendez on the strength of a collective commitment, to “stand up to Washington, in all its permutations.”

He pounded the “pro-growth progressive” agenda: gun safety. Immigration. The Environment.

He got politically granular, paying homage to the late Assemblyman Jerry Green – for whose chairmanship Scutari and Mahr scrapped; and former chair Charlotte DeFilippo. 

Well received here, Menendez had given his standard strong stump speech, basically the same one he gave in Essex a few nights ago.

With time ticking down, he put a tad more snap in his punches.

“We have a president who seeks to divide us, who is the divider in chief, not the uniter in chief,” he said of Trump.

Then he savaged Hugin.

While Menendez helped craft the Affordable Care Act to give insurance to more than one million New Jerseyans, Hugin was “making hundreds of millions of dollars by gouging cancer patients – it says a lot more about him when he adds these salacious ads he’s putting out. Where did he get the money for those ads? He got the money by making a killing off cancer patients. One drug. One drug that he raised 200%. He was sued by the federal government for Medicare and Medicaid fraud.”

His opponent’s record supplies a bit of a preview, Menendez said, about how he would wiled the power of a United States Senator.

“We’re not going to find that out,” said the incumbent.

The room filled with applause.


The room included U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, Jr., Senator Joe Cryan, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Mayor Mahr, Assemblywoman Linda Carter, Assemblyman Jim Kennedy, Linden Mayor Derek Armstead, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp, Freeholder Angela Garretson, Freeholder Al Mirabella, Freeholder Rebecca Williams, Freeholder Chris Hudak, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, Hillside Democratic Committee Chairman Anthony Salters, among many others.

It was packed.

Scutari minder Nick Fixmer roamed.

Running in one of New Jersey’s battlegrounds, CD-7 Democrat Tom Malinowski ascended the staircase in the company of past vanquished rivals from the Democratic Primary. “We just took a picture together,” one of them, Dave Pringle, told InsiderNJ.

Worry lingered about the potential for a closer than necessary election at the top of the ticket, encumbered by Menendez’s admonishment by the Senate Ethics Committee – Menendez v. Republican Bob Hugin – impairing Malinowski’s challenge of U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7). But sources have also described Malinowski planning a tremendously individuated, targeted and aggressive GOTV operation.

It was volatile.

It was civil.

Kennedy works it.
Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp confers with Goutam Jois of Summit.




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