Under a hail of name calling and finger pointing, the Speaker of the General Assembly refused to acquiesce to Governor Chris Christie to sign the Horizon restructuring bill. Prieto showed courage and character as he resisted the 11th hour bill and then kept good faith by negotiating with Senate President Steve Sweeney and Horizon CEO Bob Marino for a better version. “Courage and character”. That sounds like a recipe for demotion, considering the terrain; namely, New Jersey politics. But at least Prieto cemented his legacy as a guy who will do what’s right before caving under the dual pressures of bossism and an unrelentingly bullying governor. Sometimes making a stand overrides survival, and that proved the case here with a Prieto.
The suspenders-wearing senate president is a skillful negotiator, which he proved once again in the middle of the budget crisis, as he worked closely with Marino (and to a lesser extent Prieto – the two barely speak) to bring off a deal that enabled the state to use Horizon reserve funds – but with conditions. Sweeney never lost his cool and showed leadership skills by working with Prieto and hammering out a compromise.
The Democratic candidate for Governor appears to be pretty much in cruise control now. The state shutdown afforded him a great narrative. He could slap away at Christie while burnishing himself in his own favorite light: the outsider riding in to fix the great toxic mess that is Trenton.
The self-serving Governor of New Jersey came out on the losing end of the battle with the Assembly Speaker. The images of him in an easy chair on a closed state beach while lawmakers attempted to reach an agreement on the Horizon bill reinforced the governor’s legacy as someone who routinely puts his own comforts and interests first. It’s just too bad.
Credit her for hanging in there and trying but the party’s a shambles, dealt the double whammy of years of Christie neglect compounded by Donald Trump inanity. She really does try. But she has the dreadful heavy lift of first having to ward off the entrapments of Christie world before she can even land a punch on Murphy.
The State of New Jersey
In the end, those exhaustive, internecine battles among puffed up political warlords do little to ease the burdens of regular New Jerseyans, who labor on under the yoke of dysfunctional state politics.