High noon at political meetings

High noon at political meetings

Good Wednesday morning!

A rare thing happened in Gloucester County last week, when the Republican chair hired armed security for a party committee meeting.

It might not be that rare in the post-Bruen era, though. The chair, Jacci Vigilante, faced pressure from a faction of the party to hold a vote to replace her, and she told POLITICO she hired security ahead of time in case the meeting got out of hand. Her critics disagree and interpreted her move as an intimidation tactic. You can read more about that here.

Vigilante wouldn’t say whether the security guards were armed (the firm confirmed they were), but her response was a telling reminder of the new reality in the Garden State.

“I don’t know who is armed in New Jersey these days because the law has changed,” Vigilante said. “I’m pretty sure a number of people in that room were armed, and that’s their right.”

The Murphy administration has fought the Supreme Court’s new interpretation of a person’s constitutional right to carry a gun in public with some measure of success. Certain so-called sensitive places — such as bars, schools and zoos — must remain gun-free while litigation plays out, but many other locations must allow concealed carrying.

Does that mean political gatherings like the one in Gloucester County will become forums for gunslingers? Most likely not. And it’s worth noting that the vast majority of gun crimes in New Jersey happen with illegally obtained firearms. New Jersey also has one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the country, which the Murphy administration largely attributes to strong gun laws.

No one in America is safe from the threat of gun violence anymore, and there really are no such things as sensitive places or gun-free zones. But it’s still jarring to realize that showing up to a political meeting in New Jersey could also mean sitting next to someone with a gun on their hip, perfectly legally.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Matt’s off most of this week so he can listen to Metallica’s entire discography. We will be here until he returns for Friday’s edition.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Some day, I will tell you how he got out of that morass,” — former President Donald Trump on former Gov. Chris Christie, suggesting the former president knows the secrets to Bridgegate.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Gov. Philip D. Murphy

H&R STAY ON YOUR BLOCK — “ANCHOR benefit payments will be automatic for many N.J. residents this year, state says,” by NJ Advance Media’s Karin Price Mueller: “The next ANCHOR property tax relief benefit will be paid automatically for most New Jersey residents who qualify for the program, NJ Advance Media learned Tuesday. The state started mailing letters to notify more than 1.3 million eligible residents about the change on Tuesday, the state Division of Taxation said. ‘The Division of Taxation has worked diligently to build off the success of last year’s ANCHOR program and ensure every eligible New Jersey resident receives this crucial property tax relief,’ State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio said. ‘We’re pleased to be able to distribute benefits automatically to many ANCHOR eligible households this year, making the process far more simple and convenient for the majority of qualifying homeowners and renters.’ Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to make the announcement Tuesday night during his ‘Ask the Governor’ program on WHYY at 7 p.m.”

MONEY TO BLAST THE REST OF “JERICHO” — “New Jersey launches $100 million fund to fix boardwalks,” by New Jersey Monitor’s Nikita Biryukov: “Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill Tuesday creating a $100 million fund to pay for maintenance and repairs for New Jersey boardwalks. The broadly bipartisan bill, which passed the Senate unanimously and cleared the Assembly with overwhelming margins, allows the Department of Community Affairs to issue grants to improve or remediate boardwalks all along New Jersey’s coast in an effort to keep the state’s shore communities bustling. ‘The Jersey Shore is where memories are made, and we need to make sure our families can keep creating those memories of summers down the shore for generations to come,’ Murphy said at a bill signing in Atlantic City.”

BUT TRY LEAVING THE SUPER BOWL — “NJ Transit just won the Academy Award of transportation systems,” by NJ Advance Media’s Larry Higgs: “For transit agencies, winning this award is the equivalent of winning an Oscar, a Tony or a Grammy. For the first time in 26 years, NJ Transit won the Outstanding Transportation System award from the American Public Transit Association. It was one of four transit systems across the nation that won the coveted award, according to the association. The award, which doesn’t have a nickname, is ‘akin to winning the Super Bowl for a transit agency,’ said Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit CEO, in a statement.” (To be fair, NJ Transit passed a major test by ably handling commuters to and from Memorial Day weekend Taylor Swift concerts, helping to rollback bitter memories of the 2014 Super Bowl.)

— “NJ Auditor finds ‘severe fiscal distress’ in Lakewood schools, recommends new funding model

— “How does school segregation impact student achievement in New Jersey?

R.I.P. — Paul Sauerland, Tom D’Alessio

EVEN HARDER TO SAY THAN KEAN — “Jason Blazakis announces run for Congress, joining growing list of candidates to challenge Kean Jr.,” by POLITICO’s Mia McCarthy: “Jason Blazakis announced his campaign for New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District on Tuesday. ‘I spent the last twenty years fighting terrorism, corruption, and the illegal drug trade overseas,’ Blazakis said in a statement. ‘Both home and abroad, I’ve seen the threats anti-democratic extremists pose to our democracy and am running for Congress to stop them.’ Blazakis will be seeking the seat of first-term Republican Tom Kean Jr. in a district that narrowly flipped Republican in 2022. Former Rep. Tom Malinowski, a Democrat, previously held the seat for two terms….Blazakis joins progressive activist Sue Altman and Roselle Mayor Joe Signorello III, who already announced their bids in the race to try flipping the seat back to Democratic control.”

BACK DOCTOR BACKS OUT —”Anyone want to be mayor? Toms River Democrats seek new candidate after nominee drops out,” by Asbury Park Press’ Jean Mikle: “It’s less than a month to Labor Day, the traditional start of the fall campaign season. And Toms River’s Democrats don’t have a mayoral candidate. Chiropractor and former Township Committeeman John Furey has dropped out of the race, according to an email sent to Democratic county committee members in Toms River by Jeff Horn, who heads the township’s Democratic organization. Horn said a vote will be held online from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday to select a new mayoral candidate and a replacement for council candidate Kajal Lal, who has also dropped out of the race after taking a federal government job.”

— “Middlesex Water seeks 31% bill price hike

— “Health officials work to get fix on Legionnaires’ outbreak in northern NJ

— “Brick is a GOP strongold where Democrats have a local majority. Now Republicans want it back

— “Ridgewood’s new village manager, former mayor of Woodland Park, digs into his job

— “Bloomingdale police to get new top cop for first time in 17 years

— “Grand jury declines to indict officer in fatal shooting of rampaging backhoe driver

— “Fatal Buena house fire blamed on explosives; what investigators found at the property

— “Boat crash kills woman swimming off the coast of Atlantic City

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