Democracy

Tired of Russia and Taxes? Here’s The New Jersey Election Special!

For the moment, I’m going to put aside the frenzy over the Mueller investigation and how the Russian hacking and fake Facebook posts were all Hillary’s fault even though GOP campaign operatives lied through their collective teeth about their contacts with said Russians, and I’m going to postpone any comments on the new GOP Let’s Give a Sop to the Wealthy and Corporations Act of 2017, which, at first glance, will have me paying more in taxes, because I believe that the Senate will correct many, but not all, of the egregiously disgraceful ways in which the GOP wants the middle class to pay for the corporate tax cuts and blow up the deficit.

So no comment at all on those two issues.

What’s instead?

New Jersey is going to elect a new Governor on Tuesday!

Yes, I know you’re going to miss Chris Christie, who has sunk so low in the ratings lake that divers are rooting around the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald looking for Christie’s poll numbers. It’s gotten so bad that even a great public program to combat opioid addiction, which Christie proposed, couldn’t pry any money out of a president who supposedly is still considering Christie for a replacement part in his administration, on the off chance that someone will leave it soon. Which they will. And Christie will remain in Mendham where he belongs.

So who will win the election on Tuesday? Democrat Phil Murphy has a big lead in the polls, but of course we know about poll numbers. After all, it was only last year that Hillary was supposed to win the national vote by a couple of percentage points. Which she did. So all polls must be wrong, right? Not when you have a 14 point lead. Which Murphy has. If Democrats go out and actually vote, he’ll win.

But what of Republican Kim Guadagno? She served as Christie’s Lieutenant Governor for a glorious eight years, and that’s exactly why she will not win. She’s run a decent campaign, but she just can’t get out of Christie’s shadow on any issue, even the ones where she differs from him. He’s that unpopular.

Not that Murphy has been a dream candidate. He’s gotten tripped up over immigration and making New Jersey a sanctuary state. He’s also promised to fully fund public schools without being specific about how he’s going to pay for them, and he’s promised the teachers that he will fully fund their pension without, again, saying how hes going to pay for it. But he’s a Goldman Sachs guy and we know all about their fiscal acumen. Not really.

And I’m not really enthralled with his choice of Lieutenant Governor, former Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. You remember her. She’s the Democrat who shepherded the Pension and Benefits bill through the Assembly in 2011. That’s the bill that reduced teacher take home pay for four years and stripped away our collective bargaining rights when it comes to health insurance.

Yes, THAT Sheila Oliver.

She only ran the Assembly. What of the State Senate? Glad you asked.

The New Jersey Education Association is currently committing political hari-kiri by supporting the opponent of Steve Sweeney, the Senate President who got enough Democratic votes to pass the pension bill in his chamber. The problem is that his opponent, Fran Grenier, is a Trump-and-Christie-supporting far right Republican who really dislikes almost everything the NJEA stands for.

But since Sweeney also committed the political sin of  not posting a constitutional amendment that would guarantee the state would fully fund the pension system, reading the public, correctly in my view, as being opposed to it, the NJEA wants him gone. Which won’t happen on Tuesday or any other day this week. Which means that the NJEA, which I support on most other issues, will now have an adversary instead of a friend just when Democratic control of the entire state government is probably going to be a reality.

In this case, gun control measures would have stopped the NJEA from shooting itself in the foot.

Nice job.

I expect that Sweeney and the NJEA will make nice up to a point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he took something out on the organization sometime in the next four years.

But of course, the main thing to do this Tuesday, no matter where you live, is to vote.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

Elections #Featured

Hey You! Wanna be Governor of NJ? We Need One

Chris Christie will go down in New Jersey history as one of the most unpopular, least effective, self-serving governors this state has ever had. And given our history, that’s saying a lot. But for someone with the political skills he has and the ability to connect with everyday people, having a 17% approval rating is shocking. He spent all of his political capital on Hurricane Sandy and thought that he would be the big mouth with the righteous anger in 2016, but that didn’t work out either.

And now he seems to have disappeared. OK, not entirely. He is spending his last few months highlighting the problems of drug addiction and is stumping for more money for treatment programs, but otherwise, he doesn’t have much else. His school spending plan is pretty much dead on arrival and Trump has taken all of the available space and oxygen in the politician realm. Christie was passed over for a cabinet position, but I can see him taking over after one of Trump’s originals flames out, which will happen sooner rather than later. Heck, if Christie can hang on, he could become VP if Trump does something high-crimish or misdemeanorlike in the next two years, which is also looking somewhat possible given that he can’t stand criticism and thinks that everything that goes against his family is unfair.

Even Christie’s Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guagdano, is fleeing Trenton and is running to succeed her boss. It will be interesting to see how she’s going to separate herself from him since we didn’t see much of her leadership style for, well, eight years. And that includes the time when the state got smacked with a blizzard when Christie was on vacation and Guagdano was the acting Governor. Not a peep. And the state ground to a halt. Talk about laissez-faire.

The Democrats are in much better shape in this state than nationally, but they are still going to have to round up votes in the traditionally Democratic urban and suburban areas. Right now Phil Murphy is the front-runner and has already been endorsed by party bigwigs and some unions. John Wisniewski is also running and he actually has state-level governing experience as a member of the State Assembly for the past 20 years. He’s trying to run as an outsider, but if Trump is any guide to how an outsider runs a government, Wisniewski might want to run as the trusted, sure hand who can actually govern.

But this is all for the future as we’re in the money-grubbing phase of the election until springtime, and the primaries aren’t until June. Another election. Fun.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest