Murphy’s support in key progressive pockets like Hudson County helped him win against Republican Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno. But it was not his progressive agenda that brought him victory. It was the fact that he was not Chris Christie.
New Jersey is really not a progressive state, despite its tendency to vote Democratic in national elections and sometimes elect Democrats as governor.
The election of Republican governors like Christie in 2009, Christine Whitman in 1993, and Tom Kean in 1981 all attest to the unpredictability of the state’s voting base, something Murphy needs to be concerned with as he plunges ahead with new taxes.
Taxes mean more to New Jersey voters than a progressive agenda. Democrats learned that the hard way when control of the state legislature shifted to the GOP in 1991, and two years later, led to the defeat of Democratic Gov. Jim Florio.
Increasing taxes at the rate that Murphy is doing could lead to a tax revolt – even though Democrats appear to want to shift the blame to the President Donald Trump’s federal tax reform. This comes during at a time when the Jersey City Council will also be faced with the hard decision of whether to impose a payroll tax on workers in Jersey City to make up for anticipated losses of state school aid. While city employees and residents of Jersey City would be exempt, the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce believes the added tax will discourage future job growth.
Christie to get the last word after all
It looks like former Gov. Christopher Christie will finally get his book published. He had to wait until after he left office, since the state legislature in 2016 blocked his effort to change state ethics laws to allow him to profit from a book while still in office.
This assumed that people might actually buy enough copies of the book for him to get royalties, even though he left office with his approval rating in the teens.
The book, due out by January – titled “Let Me Finish: Trump, The Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and The Power of In-Your-Face Politics” – is expected to cover a wide range of topics from Bridgegate to Christie’s being dumped from the Trump transition team. Since the famously truculent Christie is not known to mince words, expect him to get even for all the perceived slights he received while in office.
The biggest attraction to the book will not be its reliance on fact, but how blunt Christie will be in his effort to get even. Already a political outcast from any organized party, Christie largely has nothing to lose, and as the old adage goes: all press is good press.
Dividing the spoils in West New York
A different kind of political war may be brewing in West New York as political heavyweights seek candidates to replace Felix Roque as mayor.
Over the last four years, political bosses like Rep. Albio Sires, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, and state Sen. and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco put their own people in as commissioners in West New York. This was to assure they could continue to have control over the town if Roque diverted from the accepted political agenda, as he had a tendency to do during his first term as mayor.
This happened when Roque sided with state Sen. and Union City Mayor Brian Stack and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop in an effort to replace County Executive Tom DeGise. Had Roque sided with DeGise or even stayed on the sidelines, he would likely have more support for reelection next year from those now scrambling to find someone to replace him. The problem is that each of those powerbrokers is looking at someone different. This could mean a hotly contested municipal election next May.
Sires, a former Wes New York mayor, may already be making early moves, as indicated by his wife’s (Adrienne Sires) seeking to return to the local school board in the upcoming election.
Bayonne school race will be a marathon
Scores of candidates are running for four seats in the Bayonne Board of Education election, which will likely be lively if not downright nasty.
In some ways it will become a game of musical chairs, since a number of prominent school board members will be running for three-year terms, including recently-resigned Mary Jane Desmond. Desmond stepped down as trustee in order to allow one of her family members to get a school job. But instead of running to fill the remaining year on her original term, she’s now running for a three-year term. This means she’ll be running against other incumbents, and one of the more prominent people this year might be going home a loser.
Still more interesting is the fact that Leo Smith, who retired as school business administrator, is also seeking a seat on the board – perhaps to get even with some of those trustees who tried to force him out as business administrator in the past.
Smith, who was appointed business administrator when his brother Mark Smith was still mayor, brings a lot of votes to the table, and could become a spoiler for other incumbents.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.