Who’s Up and Who’s Down: Week of March 4th

“Politics is action and all action is but a flaw in the perfection of inaction.”

Robert Penn Warren, All the King’s Men


Joe Biden

Congressman Payne (D-NJ) – center – with Biden.

I don’t care what anyone says. Great speech last night by the President of the United States. Upper deck. Republicans (with some significant and instructive exceptions) apparently don’t have a problem submitting to a pygmy who might have been great as one of the villains in the old Batman TV series. What a skin-crawling shame to see grown men obsequiously attendant to a whiny, crying child.

Manly, purposeful, good-humored, and vigorously rooted

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

in our American faith, Biden showed leadership at that podium in the United States Capitol, the same one Donald Trump urged a mob to overrun because his own Vice President sought to justly ratify the 2020 election in Biden’s favor. Many people get down on Biden. I get it. But he’s one of the (hopefully not last) real guys in politics, a precious complement to the tough ideals of our country, born out of the Enlightenment. He fundamentally understands the vitality of America, the delicate and painstaking work of diplomacy (amid screams of ceasefire without secured hostages on one side, and unleashing hell upon innocents on the other), and the stakes for the world if America lacks all evidence of moral fiber. Giggly spectators prepared for a corpse to show up at that podium last night, only to see the President of the United States radiating Ohtani power, complete with Thomas Jefferson lime twist.

This is a volatile election cycle.

Check out Emerson College’s Poll from earlier this week:

“A… national survey of voters finds President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump tied at

Lincoln, JC.

45% in a November general election matchup, while 10% are undecided. When undecided voters are asked which candidate they lean toward, Biden’s overall support increases to 51% and Trump to 49%.”

We are a nation and a world in crisis, and we don’t advance by retreating into the dual enticements of anarchy and tyranny.

A leader spoke last night to the better angels of our nature beloved by Lincoln.

His name’s Biden.

Tammy Murphy

For the love of God, it was ugly, the lead up to Bergen County, and luridly detailed with all the

First Lady Tammy Murphy.

pockmarked problems of the Democratic Party and the process. You almost don’t know where to look, then run into another flamingly idiotic speech by Trump as you channel surf and say, in your best Richard Burton Who’s Afraid of Virgina Wooff inner voice, “Oh, yes, my boy, there are [worse] things in this world.” So, after a seemingly interminable season of absorbing punishment (all chronicled by InsiderNJ Columnist Fred Snowflack, the best in the biz), Murphy won Bergen (on the strength of Paul Juliano’s ability to control his county committee, see below) and then Somerset (on the strength of Peg Schaffer’s ability to control her county committee). This represented, well, what does one say? Snowflack’s reporting on these semi-catastrophic events in the long, tormented history of the democratic process fill an old haggard newsman with a sense of, yes, inspiration.

Alan Steinberg and Alex Zdan
Alex Zdan, left, with Alan Steinberg, from the Power and Politics files.

Alex Zdan

Speaking of ink-stained wretches, one of them won something for a change, in this case the backing of the Passaic County Regular Republican Organization. Under the leadership of Chairman Peter Murphy and Vice Chairwoman Joanie Walsh, the PCRRO last night unveiled its Republican candidates for the 2024 elections, featuring former News 12 Power and Politics host (and former InsiderNJ investigative freelancer) Zdan for the United States Senate. He gets to run on the line up there with Donald Trump. It’s like those last words, we’re paraphrasing, in The Roaring Twenties with Jimmy Cagney, spoken in the snow on the steps of the locked church with all the spare disconsolation of Sophocles – “He used to be a reporter.”

Senator/Mayor Nick Sacco held an event this evening at the Waterside in North Bergen, attended by Governor Phil Murphy and presumptive Bergen Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano.
Bergen Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano (center) with Governor Murphy (and North Bergen Mayor Nick Sacco).

Paul Juliano and Peg Schaffer

They did it!

Womp. Womp.

Mo Butler and Laura Matos

Perennial insiders Butler and Matos are poised for appointment to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), a source tells InsiderNJ. Butler is a former state director for U.S. Senator Cory Booker. Veteran insider Matos served on the legislative redistricting committee. The pair will replace South Jersey Powerbroker George Norcross III and lobbyist Tonio Burgos.

David Calviello 

Amid the circus, let it not be forgotten that this week, New Jersey got a much-needed infusion of some gravitas, as Senator Holly Schepisi (R-39) and the Senate Judiciary Committee successfully ratified the nomination for a Superior Court Judgeship of Bergen County’s Calviello. “Over the course of his 25-year career as a state prosecutor, Calviello handled every kind of criminal matter, tried nearly 60 jury trials, and received promotion to the highest-ranking Chief Assistant Prosecutor in the county.”


Passaic County

Everybody knows Jerry.” Yeah, he made some classics with Dean Martin, and one masterpiece, The


Nutty Professor, but this is Passaic County, not Irvington, so we’re talking about Jerry Speziale, not Jerry Lewis, and so if you’re talking movies, it’s Brooklyn’s Finest, courtesy of Paterson. And the movie up in Passaic County right has a decidedly Antoine Fuqua edginess about it, as the organization sumo wrestles with Speziale and tries to keep him out of the sheriff’s seat. But since everyone’s on a first name basis here and we don’t have to waste time filling in the back story, Jerry, while you’re trying to get a handle on Passaic County, see what you can do about Alabama. That speech from Katie Britt (see below) last night needs immediate attention, along with the fact that you can’t get a decent slice of pizza down there. And other assorted nightmares. You’re my Alabama guy. Go. Deal. Now. That’s Alabama-speak, courtesy of Senator Britt. In any event, it’s ugly in Passaic. Coyote Ugly.

Jones, right and Currie, two emblems of political parties.
Passaic County Democratic Committee Chairman John Currie (left, with fellow Chairman LeRoy Jones) – still windmilling punches after all these years.


Check out this exchange, among many:


“During one of several conversations we had about the campaign, Chairman John Currie told me he was imposing a ‘new structure’ where he would name the Undersheriffs and make all personnel and financial decisions within the department. Of course, I refused to even entertain this — any candidate who would agree to accept that kind of political interference would be unfit to serve as Sheriff.

“I have dedicated my life to fighting crime and protecting the equal rights of all people. I would never let myself be part of a corrupt system that empowers an unelected political boss to rule over a law enforcement agency. That’s not how it worked when I served three terms as Sheriff, and it will never happen if I am elected Sheriff again.”

Commissioner Pat Lepore 

Former EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg wonders if former Gov. Chris Christie would be a good choice after President Donald Trump passed over Congressman John Ratcliffe for the position of Director of National Intelligence.
Former Gov. Chris Christie backing up President Donald Trump.

“Simply put, that’s got to be a joke. MAGA Jerry colluded with top Republicans, including Chris Christie, to strand county Democrats the last time he was Sheriff. In fact, I was one of the Democrats MAGA Jerry abandoned in 2010, so I got to see the impact of his actions first-hand. Fortunately, with Chairman Currie’s leadership, we were able to overcome MAGA Jerry and his Christie supported politics.

“That MAGA Jerry lied to a reporter when he said he would donate his Democratic campaign contributions, ‘For my sick wife-cancer UMDNJ, the needy children, baseball, soccer, kids, sports which I believe in, etc.’ shows his lack of character and why he should never be in any elected office again.”

All of it delivered straight, in sentences rushed, without stop gaps, in streets, not kitchens, and devoid of tears.

It ain’t Alabama, folks.

It all adds up to one thing: New Jersey.


Bob Menendez

Speaking of New Jersey, the state’s disgraced senior senator won’t run for reelection. You know, it’s a

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez says that he thinks Gov. Phil Murphy is right to make sure that whatever tax incentive program exists for the state benefits the people of NJ. This statement comes after George Norcross filed a lawsuit seeking to have the NJEDA Task Force investigation deemed unconstitutional.
Bob Menendez.

great look for Democrats when they’re trying to point the finger at Trump and making a case not only for his corruption but sedition, when they have hanging around their necks the guy alleged by the U.S. District Attorney of the Southern District of New York to sell off his services to Egypt and Qatar in exchange for gold bars (and other sundry items). Maybe it’s no accident, speaking of New Jersey, that both Trump and Menendez have deep roots in – where else – New Jersey!

Jose Uribe 

The New Jersey businessman indicted alongside New Jersey Democratic Sen. Menendez pleaded guilty to charges related to the bribery scheme and is cooperating with federal prosecutors in the ongoing investigation. Uribe, indicted in the corruption scheme alongside the senator, his wife Nadine Menendez and two other businessmen, is the first person to plead guilty to the charges and the first insider to agree to cooperate with prosecutors. Jammed up? He could face up to 95 years in the can.

Senator Britt.

Katie Britt

Look, I’m not anti-hokey and folksy. Trying to be nice here, but I saw Close Encounters of a Third Kind back in the 1970s, enjoyed, it, and never thought it would beam down again in quite this way. Apparently, the GOP thought that by putting the Senator from Alabama in a kitchen, they’d escape the fate of Bobby “Let me tell you a story” Jindal. All it did was make that kitchen look like the staging area for the next Stanley Kubrick-Steven Spielberg collaboration.

Mike Johnson

Republicans (ok, everyone else, too) thought Biden would fall over at the podium when he gave his State of the Union Speech last night. Speaker Johnson no doubt had intrepid lines prepared for an evening-saving stab at the microphone, but as Biden delivered one of the best speeches of his career (see above), indeed, a great American speech, the precocious-looking lad from Louisiana smoldered in the background like withering wallpaper at a good old-fashioned grampa-stamping hootenanny (or ass-whuppin’)!

Fani Willis

The Fulton County District Attorney has a damn good (as yet to be formally decided) case. But Democrats routinely determinedly (see Menendez, above) undo their best chances by shouldering more of our fallen human nature than the angelic one.

Such is the tortured path.

See you on the trail!  



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3 responses to “Who’s Up and Who’s Down: Week of March 4th”

  1. So anyone who you don’t agree with is a MAGA supporter? Not everyone is but I’m definitely a Trump supporter. He’s the only president who left office with less wealth than when he entered it.
    Yes you, Obama and Biden, one is a sneaky ex president in the background up to no good and the other who’s a demented fool acting as a puppet for somebody in the Democrat party.

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