WHO’S UP AND WHO’S DOWN: Week of the First Gubernatorial Debate of the General Election


Jason O’Donnell

The former assemblyman had a very credible campaign kickoff on Wednesday night at the Knights of Columbus Hall, a day before Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis had his own kickoff on Thursday night. The crowd of about 250 included Davis 2014 diehard (and perennial Bayonne anti-establishment organizer) Pat Desmond.

Bob Menendez

It ain’t over, but the judge this week threatened to throw out the foundation of the case against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

Willie Horton

The scare tactics on display by the Guadagno Campaign dredged up an old chestnut from the 1988 campaign of George Herbert Walker Bush, which the Steve Bannon of his day, Lee Atwater, uncorked to deep-six another Massachusetts liberal, Mike Dukakis.

Vin Gopal

This is a tough one to score, which will no doubt prompt howls from the Monmouth GOP. You can make a convincing case that the Murphy Campaign simply kills Gopal, shredding his chance at an LD11 suburban vote spike with a very wobbly, North Jersey-centered campaign strategy. You could also argue that Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is one of the least exciting people in America. But the fact that the party leader came to New Jersey this week and picked Gopal’s senate campaign as a hotspot proves that – notwithstanding the depletions caused  by the mess in LD3 – it’s a very close race.

Bill Maer

Public Strategies Impact (PSI) Group this week announced the promotion of the former Bill Pascrell Chief of Staff to the position of senior partner. Joseph Simonetta received the same promotion at the company.


Kim Guadagno

Every one loves to criticize, and Murphy’s getting beaten up internally by his own party. Certainly, the Murphy Campaign hardly looked power curve worthy as the candidate had a less than impressive performance at the candidates’ first television debate. But our scorecard showed only a modest debate victory by Guadagno – not a blowout – nothing that will move the needle. The subsequent overreach with the sanctuary cities ad had the feel more of Guadagno desperation than Murphy devastation. We can hear the protests already. HELLO! KIM SHOULD NOT EVEN BE IN THE CONTEST RIGHT NOW, and SHE HAS MOMENTUM. But Murphy still has a 5-1 cash on hand advantage, and can be bucked up in the knowledge that very few people saw his crummy, feverishly grinning like a James Bond bad guy, tired slogan-heavy debate performance. The trouble with the down by double digits Guadagno is she needed a viral kayo, and midway through the debate, after a strong start, disappeared.

New Jersey

The debate on Monday night proved a very poor forum for two statewide candidates to spar on the future of New Jersey. The ABC people who ran it are New Yorkers, not New Jereyans, and the Jersey reporters who participated looked like they had come in out of the rain, hastily asking questions from shadowy corners of the room, as if nervous about security bouncing them from NJ PAC if they even tried to sit down. The (now defunct) NJN forum moderated by Jim Hooker eight years ago and featuring Christie v. Corzine had a Lincoln-Douglas debate feel compared to what transpired in Newark on Tuesday night. Dreadful.

Vincent Prieto

The sitting speaker presided over a poorly attended fundraiser at La Reggia as he goes all in with those submitted checks this season on what most insiders say is an ill-advised and desperate move to pick off a seat in Republican stronghold LD39 – in an attempt to save his own seat.

The Prosecution in the Menendez Case

We spent time last week talking to veteran reporters outside the federal courtroom as the Menendez Trail dragged on, and no one expressed the opinion that the feds have the deal sealed, most of them shrugging off the case as a likely Menendez walk.

Auguste Rodin

The French master is rolling in his grave this week with the discovery of one of his lost works of art in the basement of Madison Borough Hall – in New Jersey. We are told that rumors of Steve Lonegan going to Madison to hold a press conference to denounce the sculpture for being French – are not true.


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