Biden a weight for NJ Democrats?

Biden a weight for NJ Democrats?

Good Friday morning!

It’s Matt. I’m back from vacation. I hope you didn’t act up for Dustin, Ry and Mia.

Last I checked, New Jersey was a blue state. So it must be alarming for Democrats to see President Biden’s approval rating significantly upside down even in the Garden State in a Monmouth poll, at 41 percent approve to 52 percent disapprove — down significantly from last year, and driven by a drop among independents.

I don’t think anyone really believes Biden is in significant danger of losing New Jersey in 2024. What I think may have Democrats worried is whether the safety wall created by the state constitution’s framers 76 years ago — that is, setting state elections in odd years specifically to shield them from national political vicissitudes — will hold.

Back in 1947, a lot of people read newspapers. I don’t know how many Statehouse reporters there were at the time, but I’d be willing to stake my stash on it being many more than today. Even though I’m doing it right now, you don’t need me to tell you that state issues get short shrift in the media, while there’s never a shortage of national political coverage.

Of course, with Democrats playing defense on offshore wind and sex ed, coverage of state-level issues probably wouldn’t relieve their anxiety. And perhaps they’re hoping that the cash infusion many voters will see shortly before the election thanks to the timing of the Anchor tax relief check will help them.

I’ve been covering politics long enough to learn it’s not rational. And I do think that generally negative feelings about the most famous member of the state’s dominant political party could hurt them in an off-year election.

TIPS? FEEDBACK? Email me at [email protected].

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This is New Jersey, where we flip middle fingers like it’s a genuine hobby. We’re not exactly cool, calm, and collected, generally speaking. Add in hot nights, some alcohol, some hot-headedness, and balls made out of wood? It’s shocking there’s not daily reports of Skee-Ball attacks up and down the shore line.” — The Trentonian’s Jeff Edelstein on the Cape May Skee-Ball incident

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Kimberly Wallace Scalcione, Kevin Miller, Claire Heininger Mehney, David J. Taylor. Saturday for Dan Bryan, Analilia Mejia, Mishael Azam, Charity Jeffries, Carlos Merino, Liam Ryan, Brendan Middleton. Sunday for Steve Klinghoffer.

WHERE’S MURPHY? — No public schedule.

MOTHER SUPERIOR COURT JUMPED THE GUN — New Jersey can sue gun companies under public nuisance law, federal appeals panel rules, by POLITICO’s Dustin Racioppi: New Jersey can sue the gun industry under a “public nuisance” law, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday, handing a major victory to the state after last year’s U.S. Supreme Court decision loosening public carrying restrictions. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals’ dismissal of a challenge brought by the National Shooting Sports Foundation last year comes as New Jersey and other states look for novel ways to balance public safety with gun rights under the high court’s June 2022 ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen. New Jersey’s public nuisance law, signed by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy a month later, may offer a template to other states following Thursday’s ruling, which said the shooting foundation “jumped the gun” in its challenge and did not justify the court’s intervention.

PROGRESSIVE VALUES — “McKeon will get Codey’s Senate seat, Brendan Gill will run for Assembly,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “Democrats have settled on Assemblyman John McKeon (D-West Orange) to replace Richard J. Codey in the State Senate, with Essex County Commissioner Brendan Gill (D-Montclair) set to run for the State Assembly, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed. Gill’s wife, Alixon Collazos-Gill, will drop out of the Assembly race. Democrats have not yet decided who will get the second Assembly seat, but sources with direct knowledge of the selection process say that having a diverse delegation in the 27th district was essential – in other words, the third member of the slate will be a woman. The deal averts a floor fight between McKeon and Gill for the Senate seat of Richard J. Codey.”

@Henal214: “So basically the primary voters of this district did not get to vote on a single candidate for the race they will be running in. This is a mockery of democracy.”

R.I.P. — “Rest in peace, Mary Messenger,” by InsiderNJ: “Mary Messenger, longtime respected staffer for the Assembly Democrats, has died. She was 62. A professional, popular, and much-sought after veteran of the Statehouse, Ms. Messenger of Bordentown received a promotion to executive director in 2013 and retired in 2017. Last month posted that she had been suffering from pneumonia. The state budget guru was in the hospital for three weeks and then in a physical therapy rehab facility for about four weeks. She had finally gone home, she posted on July 25th. The Assembly Majority Office called people on Thursday morning to let them know the sad news.”

THAT’S WHY IT’S CALLED LABOR DAY — “As strike vote looms, judge tells NJ Transit train engineers to show up to work on Labor Day,” by New Jersey Monitor’s Nikita Biryukov: “A federal judge declined a request by NJ Transit to issue an injunction that would have stopped the agency’s locomotive engineers union from taking steps toward a strike, but she ordered the labor group to tell its members to show up for work on Labor Day weekend, days after the union’s strike vote is due to conclude … NJ Transit had sought an order barring the union from striking, with agency officials saying they worry the strike authorization vote’s Aug. 31 deadline would precede a job action that would violate the existing order and provisions of the Railway Labor Act. ‘Sometimes, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The last thing we wanted to do was wait,’ Raj Parikh, representing the agency, told Judge Christine O’Hearn.”

—“Murphy’s request for toll credits could make congestion pricing fee higher, NYC board warns

—Kelly: “Sadaf Jaffer is quitting NJ politics. And the reasons should alarm all of us

—“Buses to roll again in N.J. school district as Gov. Murphy signs law upping aid

FULL FLOP — “U.S. Reps. Menendez & Sherrill express doubts over Fulop’s N.J. transportation plan,” by Hudson County View’s John Heinis: “U.S. Reps. Rob Menendez (D-8) and Mikie Sherrill (D-11) expressed doubts over a statewide transportation plan revealed by Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, the only declared candidate for governor … On Monday, Fulop unveiled his 10-point transportation plan, which included bringing the PATH under control of NJ Transit, as HCV first reported. Another key component of the proposal is New Jersey congestion pricing to combat the new tax for Garden State drivers across the river … On congestion pricing, Menendez, who along with U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) panned the Empire State’s plan in May, was steadfast that there needs to be more done for New Jerseyans and is working on getting NYC Subway’s Line 7 extended into Secaucus. Echoing what Gottheimer told News 12 yesterday, Sherrill (both of whom are potential 2025 gubernatorial candidates) stated that she thought Fulop’s congestion pricing concept would be a double tax on New Jersey commuters.”

DARK HORSE CANDIDATE — “‘Tan Mom’ Patricia Krentcil: I’m running for U.S. Senate!!!,” by TMZ: “Tan Mom is throwing her hat in the ring to become the next U.S. Senator from the state of Florida. Patricia Krentcil, the government name we assume she’d use in D.C., filed paperwork Monday with the Federal Elections Commission to officially run for U.S. Senate in 2024. Tan Mom’s Senate campaign comes on the heels of her latest reality TV show, ‘Tan to 10,’ a docuseries following her attempt to quit tanning as part of what she calls an ‘extreme life makeover.’ Patricia says she forged a bond with the LGBTQ+ community during her life makeover and she wants to use those connections to spark change in Washington D.C. with her Senate bid. Tan Mom … is going up against incumbent Senator Rick Scott, so she’s fighting an uphill battle here … but she’s already launched her campaign website and is running as a Republican based out of Boca Raton, naming her producers Gregg Maliff and Adam Barta as her campaign managers.”

Menendez approval drops amid latest federal investigation, poll finds

TURN IT INTO A CHEEBA SITE — “‘Reasonable’ or ‘woefully inadequate’? What comes next for Toms River after BASF deal,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Jean Mikle: “The state has approved a settlement with BASF that will preserve 1,000 acres of the former Ciba-Geigy Corp. Superfund site and require the company to pay the state $500,000, money that will go toward natural resource restoration. The revised settlement was announced Wednesday, the day before environmental group Save Barnegat Bay is scheduled to give updates on the damage to natural resources and the impact on the bay of Ciba’s decades of dumping on its land … The revised settlement preserves 50 more acres of property than the initial proposal, and also requires BASF to pay $500,000 to the state, up from $100,000. It will still allow BASF to develop 250 acres of land along Route 37 … ‘The Natural Resource Damage settlement negotiated behind closed doors without input from Toms River Township or the other towns impacted by the Ciba-Giegy travesty is woefully inadequate and does not come close to justly compensating the community for the damage done to our environment,’ [Toms River Mayor Mo] Hill said in an emailed statement”

IF ONLY HE HAD LISTENED TO THE GROUP’S SLOGAN — “Toms River man indicted on 15 counts in attack at Asbury Park church,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Ken Serrano: “A state grand jury handed up a 15-count indictment against a Toms River man accused of throwing smoke bombs at a crowd leaving an anti-racism concert in January in Asbury Park then trying to use bear spray on participants while yelling, ‘White lives matter,’ authorities said. Nicholas G. Mucci, 28, has been charged in the indictment … The crimes occurred between 9 and 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 27, during a concert at the Trinity Episcopal Parish on Asbury Avenue organized by a group known as ‘One People’s Project,’ which calls itself a social justice organization aligned against right wing groups. It uses the slogan ‘Hate has consequences.’”

EDISON — “Disruption at Edison’s India Day Parade rattles Muslim participants,” by The Record’s Mary Ann Koruth: “The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating an incident during Edison’s annual India Day Parade on Sunday when a group of men showed up allegedly wielding flags symbolizing militant Hinduism. The Indian American Muslim Council, which participated in the parade, condemned the ‘hateful display of flag’ by the men, who they say appeared beside Muslim marchers to intimidate them … ‘These flags are not from Bajrang Dal,’ said Dhiren Amin, president of the Indian Business Association, and the chants by the group only praised the Hindu deity Rama, he said, upon reviewing the video … Amin’s association last year publicly apologized after an outcry when national reporting revealed that the parade featured a bulldozer that some said was innocuous but critics said was divisive. Bulldozers have been used to demolish homes of Muslims in parts of northern India in recent years, as an intimidation tactic.”

PATERSON FAILS — “Paterson must relocate 300 students after part of ceiling collapses at School 3,” by The Paterson Press’ Joe Malinconico: “ceiling collapse has prompted the shutdown of School 3, and its 302 students are being transferred elsewhere while officials decide what to do with the 124-year-old building. Plaster from the ceiling on the school’s first floor fell onto an employee’s desk on July 28, but no one was hurt, officials said. There have been similar plaster collapses on the school’s second and third floors in recent years, the district’s facilities chief, Neil Mapp, told the Board of Education on Wednesday night … Officials estimated it would cost $2.1 million to fix the problem at the school on Main Street. They said the work would take about 16 weeks.”

—“Jersey City Council approves $701 million budget, increasing municipal taxes by 2%

—“Manville puts sewer system sale on November ballot

—“Atlantic City Housing Authority returns to court as fears of gas leaks mount at Stanley Holmes Village

—“Old Tappan sued for blocking disputed development that had already been approved

R.I.P. — “William T. McCargo Jr., Cherry Hill fire commissioner, former police officer, and civic advocate, has died at 77

R.I.P. — “West Milford Fire Commissioner Edward Steines dead at 64, joined fire department in 1979

—“Union City cop charged with DWI didn’t know he fell asleep, thought he was ‘by Hoboken,’ body cam footage shows

ALL YOU NEED IS A DOLLAR AND A SCHEME — “N.J. man admits to lottery scam, defrauding victims of $4M,” by NJ Advance Medial’s Nicholas Fernandes: “A man admitted in a guilty plea that he defrauded victims out of more than $4 million in a series of schemes including a lottery a scam, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger said. Pablo Estrada, 26, of Florence, pleaded guilty to money laundering before Chief U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb in Camden federal court on Wednesday. The scams operated from August 2020 to January 2023 and mostly defrauded ‘older adults,’ according to court documents.”

BURYING THE LEDE: THERE ARE REALLY 31 BOSTON MARKETS IN NJ? — “New Jersey shutters 27 Boston Market restaurants over accusations of unpaid wages, related worker issues,” by The AP: “State labor officials have temporarily shut down more than two dozen Boston Market restaurants in New Jersey after they say they found multiple violations of workers’ rights, including more than $600,000 in back wages owed to 314 employees. A stop-work order was issued Tuesday by the Department of Labor against 27 restaurants across New Jersey. The state also imposed nearly $2.6 million in penalties against the firm. The Associated Press sent an email seeking comment to Boston Market’s corporate office in Golden, Colorado, on Thursday. There are 31 Boston Market restaurants in New Jersey and 310 nationwide, according to its website.”

—“More Muslims are joining NJ police forces. Here’s why

—“New documentary follows the volunteers who shield patients from anti-abortion protesters

—“What major change may come to one of Virtua Health’s hospitals in South Jersey?

—“Rutgers won’t renew Newark chancellor’s contract. City’s mayor, political leaders object

A NOTE FROM DUSTIN — A headline in Thursday’s Playbook about Attorney General Matt Platkin’s paternity leave was intended to be light-hearted with no judgment. We congratulate him and wish the Platkin family the best during his time off.

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