The Norcross machine hasn’t turned on yet

The Norcross machine hasn’t turned on yet

Good Thursday morning!

American Democratic Majority, the super PAC tied closely to George Norcross, spent $6.4 million in the 2021 elections. At this point two years ago, it had just started up and raised $1.25 million from the NJEA’s super PAC.

Now, all 120 seats in the Legislature are up again and competitive races in two South Jersey districts — 3 and 4 — will be crucial in the battle for control of the Legislature . The first quarter 2023 fundraising numbers are in, and American Democratic Majority raised a whopping $0.

The New Jersey press corps has written quite a bit about the diminishment — it’s way too early to say downfall — of the South Jersey Democratic machine. But this is somewhat puzzling. Norcross retains the ability to easily raise millions of dollars. So maybe there will be a later infusion, or perhaps he’ll begin another project. When I asked, Norcross answered solely with a joke that you’ll see below. You’ll also find below some other news that’s got to be unwelcome to Norcross.

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

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m working with Connor Roy.” — George Norcross, referring to the “Succession” character who is polling at about 1 percent in his presidential campaign, which to be fair is better than most polls have been for former Gov. Chris Christie.


WHERE’S MURPHY? No public schedule.

CAMDEN RISING PILE OF SUBPOENAS — “N.J. corruption probe focuses on Camden, ties to South Jersey powerbroker, sources say,” by NJ Advance Media’s Ted Sherman: “The city of Camden and a major nonprofit group working on revitalization efforts have been hit with a flurry of subpoenas in recent weeks in what appears to be part of a corruption investigation into lucrative development deals involving millions in tax incentives, according to four sources with knowledge of the inquiry. The specific focus of the investigation was unclear and officials declined comment. But NJ Advance Media learned many of the records sought by the subpoenas are related to companies, individuals and transactions that have been publicly tied to South Jersey Democratic powerbroker George E. Norcross III, who wields great influence in Camden. … Some of the subpoenas described by the sources requested documents connected to the awarding of state-funded economic development incentives that were the subject of a special governor’s task force four years ago. … In response to questions, a spokesman for Norcross said the awarding of Economic Opportunity Act incentives in Camden “has been repeatedly and exhaustively reviewed, including by a special task force, the state, the Economic Development Authority” and the media.”

SCARLET STRIKES — “Both sides in Rutgers faculty talks hopeful on a contract deal within days,” by The Record’s Mary Ann Koruth: “Union leaders representing 9,000 Rutgers University faculty members said Wednesday that a final deal on a new contract could be possible by the end of the week — but only if the university administration negotiators keep up momentum and show urgency to close a few issues that remain on the table. Three faculty unions have tried to ramp-up the pace of negotiations with the university since April 15 when they secured key victories that paused a one-week strike and resumed classes. Now, as the end of the semester looms with final exams starting on May 4, faculty members under increasing pressure to sign a contract have shifted some of that pressure onto Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway by floating the possibility of a no-confidence vote in him.”

UNDER THE BOARDWALKS THEY’LL BE HAVING SOME FUNDS — “Here’s what Murphy wants to do with NJ’s leftover pandemic aid,” by NJ Spotlight News’ John Reitmeyer: “Gov. Phil Murphy is proposing more than a dozen ways New Jersey should spend its remaining federal pandemic aid, with funding for Jersey Shore boardwalks and aid for local governments facing rising employee health care costs among his requests. Murphy’s latest plans for deploying the last of New Jersey’s direct COVID-19 aid were included in a proposed state budget currently being reviewed by the Legislature. In all, Murphy has identified nearly $500 million in new spending that would be backed by money the state received in 2021 through the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act, according to budget documents. … More than $1 billion of the state’s original $6.2 billion allocation has yet to be appropriated, according to the latest official accounting. That means lawmakers will also likely have their own ideas about ways the remaining federal aid should be used as they draft an annual spending bill in the run-up to July 1.”

LORETTA VS. BERETTA — “Retired N.J. lawmaker just led fellow senior-living residents in rally for tougher gun laws,” by NJ Advance Media’s Brent Johnson: “The group of older New Jerseyans — both grandparents and great-grandparents, ranging in age from 86 to 100 — gathered in front of a senior-living facility Tuesday, clutching not only walkers but protest signs calling for tougher gun laws in America. And standing in front, gripping a megaphone, was an influential retired state lawmaker who now lives in the building. A year after moving in, former state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg organized a rally with her fellow residents at the Arbor Terrace retirement community in her native Teaneck to urge Congress to pass federal legislation with stronger firearm restrictions.”

— “NJ’s landmark affordable housing law helped at least 50,000 residents since 2015, report says

N.J. public worker pension fund has gained nearly $4B on investments so far this year

—“Bayonne assemblyman plans to return to crane worker position when state pulls out of Waterfront Commission

—“NJ spends $467K on prisoner sex-change operations, gender care so far this year

—“NJ council sets first regional curbs on warehouses

—“Women’s political representation edges up at local level, but gains meager, study finds

—Greenstein: “An investment in water is an investment in New Jersey

—“NJEA makes early endorsements in some legislative races, setting up early money

LEAKING ON A MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO GLOUCESTER — “Plan to build N.J. terminal for trains that carry combustible gases hits federal roadblock,” by NJ Advance Media’s Nyah Marshall: “A developer’s plan to transport combustible gases by rail from Pennsylvania to a terminal in New Jersey has been blocked on the federal level after years of community organizing to stop the project. The U.S. Department of Transportation denied a special permit on Monday sought by Energy Transport Solutions, a subsidiary of New Fortress Energy, to transport liquefied natural gas by rail to a port on the Delaware River in Gibbstown in Gloucester County, according to the Federal Register. State and national environmental groups are celebrating the denial because it may block the proposed project that critics say would send polluting, combustible ‘bomb trains’ across dozens of South Jersey and Pennsylvania towns daily.”

HAIR TODAY GONE YESTERDAY — “Joe Biden’s plans just sidelined these NJ Democrats,” by The Record’s Charles Stile: “We’ll see if Biden gets a bounce in the polls — and in fundraising — from his Tuesday announcement. But it is undoubtedly a sad day for Murphy’s hairstylist, who was no doubt paid handsomely for cultivating a robust hair bloom on the desert of a middle-aged dome. The makeover, which also included the hip, red-framed glasses, should no longer be a priority. (Murphy will probably still do his share of Biden surrogate work as things heat up, so he may need to maintain the bangs.) It also means an end to all the other obvious, just-in-case candidacy moves. The governor will no longer need to lob potshots at Ron DeSantis”

—“Rapper Pras, of N.J.-formed the Fugees, found guilty of political conspiracy

NEITHER RED NOR BLUE BANK —“Two slates duke it out in Red Bank’s first nonpartisan local election,” by New Jersey Globe’s Joey Fox: “When it comes to political drama per square mile, Red Bank has long been one of New Jersey’s most effective municipalities. For years, Democrats in the Monmouth County borough of 13,000 have been locked in a brutal internecine fight, with two competing factions engaged in a constant tug-of-war over local control. This year’s May 9 elections represent a continuation of that battle, but with a new twist: they’ll be the first elections held under Red Bank’s new nonpartisan form of government approved by voters last year. Leading one ticket is incumbent Mayor Billy Portman, who won his first term off-the-line just last year; the borough’s new charter reset all terms, with all offices up this year regardless of when they were last elected. Portman’s opponent is Tim Hogan, a first-time candidate and the president of Riverview Medical Center, a major hospital in Red Bank.”

A TINY PORTION OF THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN — “Mayor-backed slate sweeps race for 3 Newark school board seats,” by NJ Advance Media’s Steve Strunsky: “With 94% of districts reporting, a mayoral-backed slate of three Newark Board of Education candidates swept Tuesday’s election by a nearly 3-1 margin, with voters overwhelmingly approving a local tax levy projected to cut the average homeowner’s bill by $15 for the coming school year. The ‘Moving Newark Schools Forward’ slate backed by Mayor Ras Baraka included two incumbents, Josephine Garcia and Hasani Council, and Allison James-Frison, who ran unsuccessfully against the mayor’s slate last year. … Turnout in the state’s largest school district was low on Tuesday — about the same as last year’s 3% mark.”

—“Should Baraka be worried that Newark voters don’t vote?” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “When Newark Mayor Kenneth Gibson ran for governor in 1981, he came out of Newark with 21,967 votes. That enabled him to carry Essex by a 40%-13% margin over Jim Florio, and helped propel him to a third-place statewide – just 3,448 votes out of second. But that was more than 40 years ago, and circumstances have changed for another Newark mayor, Ras Baraka, as he considers a bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2025. Baraka has struggled to turn out votes in the state’s largest city in recent elections. When he ran for re-election in the May 2022 non-partisan municipal election, just 10 % of Newark voters turned out to vote. Despite his 83% landslide, 92% of voters in Baraka’s hometown didn’t vote for him. … The latest data point came on Tuesday when voter turnout in a contested race for the Newark Board of Education was roughly 3.7%, just slightly better than the 2.9% turnout in April 2022.”

A PLIGHT IN THE ROXBURY — ”‘Pornography’ on the shelves at Roxbury High? Librarian sues residents for defamation,” by The Daily Record’s William Westhoven: “Roxbury’s High School librarian has sued a group of township residents, saying they’ve made her the target of ‘a civil conspiracy to defame her character’ with allegations online and in public that she’s allowed pornography in the library. The alleged campaign centers on the graphic novel ‘Gender Queer: A Memoir,’ and other books in the library that critics have called sexually explicit but which also have been approved by the state as part of its sex education and gender-identity curriculums. The lawsuit, filed last month by librarian Roxana Russo Caivano, said the residents have labeled her a ‘child predator’ and accused her of ‘luring children with pornography.’”

TOO HOT OFF THE PRESSES — “A newspaper was planning its last edition. Then the press caught fire,” by The New York Times’ Corey Kilgannon: “In 2017, a tech executive and his wife from New Jersey with a spare fortune to invest in local news and nostalgia started a weekly print newspaper covering their beloved Montclair, an affluent commuter town some 30 minutes from Manhattan. As other regional and community papers were fading, Montclair Local popped up with a subscription price: $12 a year. It added a website and weekly email newsletters, and for seven years, it defied the odds. The press run grew to 3,500. … But print circulation costs were eating 40 percent of the budget, so last week, the Local’s board announced it would go online-only and merge with another online outlet, Baristanet. Its last print edition would come out the following Thursday, April 27. … But on Monday morning, Ms. Baranauckas received an email with some troubling news: There had been a fire at the printing plant in Rockaway, N.J. Suddenly, the Local’s last edition was in jeopardy.”

—“Sires-endorsed slate cruises to victory in West New York school board elections

—“Ex-Ocean Township manager getting $110,000 in lawsuit deal after firing

—“Paterson educator claims he was discriminated against — because he’s white

—“Ramapo Indian Hills school board’s legal fees overshadow budget talks as accusations fly

—“Paramus weed dispensary’s future remains hazy, as CEO calls questions ‘political’

YOU KNEW IT WOULD BE 22 — “New Jersey’s 25 worst highways, ranked by how much we hate them,” by NJ Advance Media’s Bobby Olivier and Jeremy Schneider: “1. Route 22 Why we hate it: If New Jersey’s highway system is indeed a manifestation of man’s sin and folly, then Route 22 must be the devil himself. It is a commuter’s eternal damnation, a gauntlet of car wrecks, road rage and drivers touting death wishes. The moment you pull onto 22 you become the worst version of yourself, involuntarily giving people the finger as you slalom through Hillside.”

DESTROY YOUR HEALTH AND YOUR FINANCES — “Pork roll vs. Taylor ham debate celebrated in new scratch-off lottery ticket,” by The Record’s Sarah Griesemer: “The New Jersey Lottery is getting in on the fun with a scratch-off ticket called ‘The Jersey Debate.’ The ticket, which features a traditional match-the-numbers game, costs $5 and has a top prize of $200,000. ‘What we’re really trying to do is embrace the fun of the New Jersey-ness of this debate and just how unique it is,’ said Missy Gillespie, chief communications officer for the New Jersey Lottery.”

YOU MAY NEED SOME PLUMBERS — “President Nixon’s North Jersey home hits the market for $1.2 million. Take a look inside,” by The Record’s David M. Zimmer: “Put up for sale at the end of March, 23 Sherwood Downs was the final home of former President Richard M. Nixon and his wife, Pat. The asking price is $1.2 million, twice what the couple paid in March 1991. Located deep within the gated Bears Nest community, the three-bedroom, five-bathroom home was the second Bergen County residence for the Nixons. The pair lived in a 15-room home on 4 acres in Saddle River for nine years before they sold it in November 1990. They moved to 23 Sherwood the following April.”

HOW IT THIS POSSIBLE IF EVERYONE’S LEAVING? — “‘Everyone’s fighting over crumbs’: New Jersey housing markets slip right back into the Pandemic Housing Boom,” by Fortune’s Alena Botros: “New Jersey’s average home value is up 5.9% over the past year. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s average home value is down 11.8% over the same period. It’s clear that the housing market correction, mostly fueled by last year’s mortgage rate shock and currently losing steam, is milder in the East and sharper out West. But New Jersey housing markets, in particular, are getting surprisingly hot again.”

—“Report: 37% of working families in NJ struggled to make ends meet during COVID pandemic

—“Killer of Press photographer gets life plus 35 years for ‘cruelty in its purest form’

—“Cooper and Cape Regional reach definitive agreement to merge

—“7,100 square-foot esports gaming venue set to open near [Rowan] campus

—“Memorial service for P-Funk co-founder Clarence ‘Fuzzy’ Haskins set for Plainfield

—“FDU names its 9th president. Here’s how he differs from his predecessors

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