Good Tuesday morning!
If Rep. Jeff Van Drew was still a Democrat, my guess is he’d be fairly comfortable right now. But a Monmouth University poll released Monday indicates that Van Drew’s refusal to vote to impeach President Trump, his subsequent switch to the GOP and then pledge of “undying support” to President Trump may have been a political miscalculation.
The poll shows Democrat Amy Kennedy leading Van Drew by five points in South Jersey’s 2nd District — or six or seven points, depending on which model is used. It also shows Joe Biden with a 3 point lead against President Trump in the district.
Yes, the Van Drew’s District is more Trump-friendly than most in New Jersey. But it’s still a swing district. And while this is looking like far from a blowout — Kennedy’s lead is within the margin of error — there’s a particularly troubling sign for Van Drew in this poll.
Democrats support Kennedy over Van Drew 94 percent to 1 percent. Republicans support Van Drew 89 percent to 8 percent. And independents support Kennedy 50 percent to 40 percent. To me, that suggests some skepticism by Republicans towards a party switcher. And Van Drew’s switch likely energized Democrats in the district — if they needed any energizing.
Van Drew built his political career as a conservative Democrat with a degree of independence from the higher-profile members of his party. It worked for nearly two decades in the state Legislature, albeit with a lot of financial help from the South Jersey Democratic machine. But now Van Drew is a Trump Republican. And if Trump’s trajectory doesn’t change, Van Drew has nowhere to go but down with him. And yes, I am aware of the Charles Sandman comparisons.
WHERE’S MURPHY? — Somewhere, hosting a Hispanic Heritage Month virtual event on his Facebook page.
CORONAVIRUS TRACKER — 522 newly-diagnosed cases for a total of 208,713. Two more deaths for a total of 14,351 (not counting 1,788 probable deaths).
HAPPY BIRTHDAY — Senate Dems’ Kevin Drennan, Cranford Administrator Jamie Cryan, Assembly Dems’ Jillian Lynch, former Hugin spox Megan Piwowar, Pennoni’s Jonathan Savage, former Assemblymember Joel Weingarten
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I don’t even know who Rick Mehta is.” — Gov. Phil Murphy
BEDRIDDENMINSTER — ’Completely reckless’: Murphy hammers Trump over Bedminster fundraiser, by POLITICO’s Sam Sutton: President Donald Trump’s high-dollar fundraiser at his New Jersey golf club unnecessarily exposed hundreds of people to Covid-19, potentially exacerbating a recent surge of new cases in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said on Monday in a series of public attacks on the president. “The knowledge that they had before they left for New Jersey — that there was exposure to a Covid-positive individual — that trip was completely unacceptable, completely reckless and completely uncalled for,” Murphy, a Democrat, said during a press conference in Trenton. “We don’t need folks coming in, knowingly exposed to a Covid-positive individual, and then be in the midst of a couple of hundred people in New Jersey. That’s the last thing we need.” Trump, who is set to be discharged Monday evening from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, tested positive for the virus shortly after hosting the $2,800-per-ticket fundraiser at his private club in Bedminster, N.J., on Thursday.
SUNK COST —“Seated across the table from Trump, without masks, donor says he’s not angry about N.J. fundraiser”
—“Some attendees at Trump’s NJ fundraiser resist calls for quarantining, contact tracing”
WHEN IT HASN’T BEEN YOUR DAY, YOUR WEEK, YOUR MONTH, OR EVEN YOUR YEAR — “Ex-NJ Gov. Chris Christie speaks from hospital bed after COVID-19 diagnosis, feisty as ever,” by The Star-Ledger’s Tom Moran: “The call came at 9:32 this morning, and my cell phone showed the name ‘Chris Christie.’ The former governor was calling from his bed at Morristown Medical Center, on Day 3 of his COVID-19 treatment. He didn’t want me to share specific details of his state of health or the treatment, but I can say this: He sounded raspy but didn’t cough once during the 10-minute chat. He said it’s scary, of course, and he’s fully aware that he’s a prime target for this virus, given his weight and a lifelong case of asthma that was bad enough to hospitalize him during one attack in 2011. But I’m happy to report the virus has done nothing to diminish the man’s legendary spunk. The reason he called was to rub my nose in a big mistake I made when I called him a liar in print nearly a decade ago. ‘Guess who just called?’ Christie said. ‘It was his majesty, King Abdullah of Jordan.’ I didn’t see that one coming. The king, you may recall, put the Christie family up in a luxurious desert resort in Jordan back in 2012, while Christie was governor. The bill for one weekend came to more than $30,000, somehow. A big gift like that is normally illegal in New Jersey, but there’s an exception if the giver is a personal friend. So, Christie claimed they were friends, even though they had met just once, at a political dinner in Manhattan. Like most of my brothers and sisters in the business, I was merciless. And I was wrong.”
NOTHING SAYS ‘ROBUST, PUBLIC DEBATE’ LIKE QUIETLY AMENDING A BILL WITH NO DISUSSION — “Here’s why there should be no mandatory minimum sentences for corrupt officials,” by state Sen. Nicholas J. Sacco for The Star-Ledger: “This is a public policy issue worthy of a robust, public debate but thus far it has instead been demonized by media outlets more interested in sensational headlines than in policy. I would urge the members of the state Assembly and the governor and his team to pay little attention to the media narrative and instead focus on the facts — that this amendment makes the entire bill package stronger and that supporting it will correct many serious deficiencies in our criminal justice system.”
THE PARTY OF LAWSUIT REFORM — “Lawsuits target mail-in voting in N.J., but ballots are already going out,” by NJ Advance Media’s Blake Nelson: “Monmouth County Republicans recently joined President Donald Trump’s campaign team in suing to alter New Jersey’s plan for a mostly vote-by-mail election. But ballots have already begun arriving in mailboxes, and Election Day is less than a month away. ‘Unless they make a decision on these lawsuits before Nov. 3, I don’t see it making a difference,’ said Morris County Clerk Ann Grossi. ‘In my experience, when there have been election issues that come up, with ballots or voting or the way something is printed, by the time they get to it they can’t really make a change.’”
—“NJ is already voting. That’s changed how campaigns target voters”
N.J., S.D. TO FINALLY MAKE GOOD ON STATE RESPECTIVE STATE MOTTOS: ‘THE GARDEN STATE’ AND ‘THE PEACE GARDEN STATE’ — “Should N.J. Legalize Marijuana? The voters will decide,” by The New York Times’ Tracey Tully: “New Jersey is one of four states where voters will be asked in November if they support legalizing recreational use of the drug. Arizona, Montana and South Dakota have similar ballot initiatives. If voters approve all four, one in three Americans will live in a state or city where recreational use of marijuana is legal, even before federal legislation advances. ‘We’ve seen this complete evolution in thinking,’ said Steven Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a nonprofit that supports legalization. ‘New Jersey is one of the bluest states in the nation and South Dakota is one of the reddest — and they both have ballot initiatives in November.’”
ROSEMARY BECCHI MAILER: ‘THEY’RE COMING FOR YOUR PORRIDGE’ — Murphy: 2020 bear hunt season will be New Jersey’s last, by POLITICO’s Samantha Maldonado: The Murphy administration will kill the state’s bear hunt. The current black bear hunting season, which takes place this month and in December, will be the state’s last under Gov. Phil Murphy’s tenure, the governor said Monday. The New Jersey Fish and Game Council proposed an amendment to the state’s game code to suspend the hunt and remove the Comprehensive Black bear Management Policy, which allows the hunt in order to reduce the bear population. “This would allow the council and Department of Environmental Protection to engage in a thorough and complete review of current scientific data in developing a new black bear policy that promotes public safety and welfare while protecting important wildlife with a focus on non-lethal management techniques,” Murphy said at a briefing in Trenton.
BACK TO MAKING ROOT BEER — “NJ TRANSIT customer experience officer Stewart Mader is out,” by New Jersey Globe’s David Wildstein: “Stewart Mader, the embattled chief customer experience officer at New Jersey Transit, is out. Mader and the state’s public transit agency have decided to part ways and his eighteen-month stint serving as customer advocate has ended. ‘NJ TRANSIT will take this opportunity to re-examine in its entirety, including the qualifications of a replacement candidate, as well (as) the position’s location in our organizational structure,’ said the agency’s president and CEO, Kevin Corbett, in a memo to board members. Mader’s last day was Friday, Corbett said.”
HE READ IT! — Murphy on SDA report: ‘I do not agree with all of their conclusions,’ by POLITICO’s Carly Sitrin: Gov. Phil Murphy said on Monday that he disagreed with portions of a report by the state’s watchdog which concluded that his office knew of questionable hiring practices at the School Development Authority and was in “frequent communication” with the authority’s former CEO. Murphy said Monday he had been briefed on the State Commission of Investigation’s report that determined the governor’s office gave its “tacit approval” to the dubious hirings and firings that went on at the SDA under former CEO Lizette Delgado-Polanco. “Though I do not agree with all of their conclusions, I look forward to working with all the parties to continue to improve the SDA,” Murphy said at his briefing in Trenton on Monday. It was the governor’s first statement on the report since its publication on Sept. 30. He did not offer specifics about the conclusions with which he disagreed.
STOP QUEUING YOURSELF. STOP QUEUING YOURSELF — “NJ MVC: Hate the long lines? Agency says stop getting there early, you’re making it worse,” by The Asbury Park Press’ Keith Schubert: “Sue Fulton, chief administrator of the MVC, says she knows how frustrating it has been for consumers. But Fulton said the long lines are misleading and caused in part by motorists thinking they have to get to the agency super-early in order to be served — a self-fulfilling prophecy that she said is not borne by the facts. “We have a perception problem,” Fulton said, adding, “We need to help ourselves with better communication.””
—“Second MVC agency closes this month after worker positive for coronavirus”
—“Will NJ be prepared to distribute a COVID vaccine? These questions still need to be answered”
YES, THIS IS CLEARLY THE MESSAGE NJ VOTERS WILL RESPOND POSITIVELY TO — “Mehta’s moment,” by InsiderNJ’s Fred Snowflack: “Rik Mehta, heretofore, had been a rather anonymous figure. But the Republican candidate against Cory Booker got his proverbial 15 minutes of fame today from no less a Democrat than Phil Murphy. After first saying he didn’t know who he was, Murphy said Mehta is not qualified to stay in the race. The governor then said that Mehta must be in ‘outer space.’ All of this came about after Mehta said he doesn’t plan to self-quarantine after attending last Thursday’s fundraiser at President Trump’s golf club in Bedminster … He said in a Facebook video that he was about 40 feet away from the president during the event, so there is no need for him to self-quarantine. He said Murphy was ‘fear mongering.’ … In the video, Mehta also takes some swipes at the media for how the president’s illness is being reported. Mehta said the media should be complimenting the president’s courage and strength.”
—“Kim, Richter spar over COVID, incumbent’s moderate credentials in debate”
—“Malinowski rips Kean Junior for facilitating ‘culture of carelessness’”
WHO AMONG US DOESN’T GET TWO YEARS TO PAY A BILL? — “Paterson councilman pays city $747 owed for Atlantic City hotel bills,” by The Paterson Press’ Joe Malinconico: “Councilman Luis Velez has paid the city the $747 he owed for hotel bills stemming from League of Municipalities conventions in Atlantic City in 2018 and 2019. Velez submitted a money order for the payment on Friday, the city clerk’s office confirmed. ‘I satisfied my obligation,’ Velez said. ‘It was my responsibility to catch up and I have done that.’ Luis Velez Velez’s payment leaves four municipal employees who remain in arrears from past year’s conventions”
CAPE MAY — “Town’s land sale could raise money, but residents worry Black community will lose its history,” by NJ Advance Media’s Bill Duhart: “A township in Cape May County said it has scheduled a property tax sale in October to help recoup losses from state-ordered, coronavirus shutdowns and restrictions. Ten of the 15 properties up for sale in Middle Township are in the Whitesboro area of the township, a community established in 1901 for Black settlers to own homes, especially to escape the violence and racial oppression in Jim Crow America. The sale has some community members wondering if their historic shore community will retain its identity as an area established primarily for people of color.”
—“About 7,000 Teaneck voters will get new ballots after mailing snafu”
—“[Gloucester County] Prosecutor retaliated against me for speaking up about racial discrimination, detective says in suit”
—“Proposed law in Jersey City would change how affordable housing is built”
—“Englewood Cliffs OKs affordable housing settlement for 450 units”
—“Freehold Township election: Mall futures, affordable housing drives candidates”
—“TJ Best leave job at Paterson schools control transition team”
THERE’S THE HELL’S ANGELS, THE PAGAN’S (SIC), AND THEN THERE’S THE BADDEST OF THEM ALL: THE WAWA CREW — “Diner fight that turned deadly was because of ‘Wawa Crew’ motorcycle club, cops say,” by NJ Advance Media’s Avalon Zoppo: “A fight outside an Ocean County diner that led to a man’s death was sparked by an argument over the victim’s friend being kicked out of a motorcycle club called the ‘Wawa Crew,’ court documents show. Edward Chandler, 54, of Manalapan, is charged with aggravated manslaughter in the death of Robert Clarke, 78, of Whiting, after he punched Clarke during an argument outside the Lakeside Diner in Lacey Township last week, causing Clarke to fall, hit his head and later die … The diner where the assault occurred was cited numerous times in August for violating Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order banning indoor dining.”
SEXY NJ DEBT COSTUME IS ALL THE RAGE — “Halloween 2020 is on in NJ: Here are the guidelines you’ll have to follow,” by The Record’s Anthony Zurita: “Trick-or-treaters can rejoice as Gov. Phil Murphy assured New Jersey residents that Halloween won’t be canceled this year despite coronavirus concerns. Murphy read off health guidelines for the holiday during his Monday press briefing, telling those who would be hitting the streets looking for some candy to wear a mask that covers both their mouth and their nose and to hold any gatherings outdoors. ‘You may wish to dress as a knucklehead this Halloween, but we don’t want anyone to act like one,’ Murphy said.”
COULD’VE USED THAT IN 2004 — “Help wanted: LEGO Land at American Dream seeks master builder,” by The Record’s Nicholas Katzban: “Do you have a puzzling mind? When you are around, do things fall into place? If so, you might be just the person sought by American Dream’s LEGO Land Discovery Center. The toy company is on the lookout for a master builder who can create monumental sights using its iconic interlocking blocks at the American Dream location.”
—“OSHA fines 14 NJ hospitals, nursing homes for lack of PPE and other failures during COVID”
—“Rutgers wins racial discrimination case”