Murphy gets sworn in as governor

Will Rogers once said, “I don’t belong to an organized party, I’m a Democrat.”
New Jersey Democrats appeared to live up to this irony in the waning days of GOP Gov. Christopher Christie, as downstate Sen. President Stephen Sweeney (a Democrat) accused outgoing Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (a North Jersey Democrat) of refusing to introduce a bill to the Assembly that would fund nuclear plants in New Jersey. The two plants located in Salem County will close within two years unless the state allows a rate increase to cover the $320 million a year funding for the plants.
This means that rate payers throughout the state, including Hudson County, will foot the bill.
Sweeney managed to shepherd the legislation through the state Senate in the lame duck session in December, then blasted Prieto, who refused to allow the Assembly to vote on companion legislation so Gov. Christie could sign it before leaving office.
The legislation will be reintroduced in both legislative bodies now that Prieto is no longer speaker.
Newly sworn in Gov. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has said he would sign this into law, but only if it includes provisions for solar and other green technology.
Murphy, who ran around the state prior to being sworn in, inherits a serious split in the Democratic Party that pits North Jersey against South Jersey. While South Jersey appears to have won the latest round of political feuds and holds leadership positions in both houses of the legislature, ill feeling will continue unless Murphy can find a way to resolve them.

Watch Christie’s head spin

Meanwhile, outgoing governor Christie did a mad dash in his last days to sign more than 100 pieces of legislation into law. He may be worried about his legacy, which to date centers on a scandal about closed lanes on the George Washington Bridge in 2012, his failed run for the presidency, his abysmal 13 percent approval rating, and pictures of him sitting on a beach chair on a state park that was otherwise closed in 2017.
But he need not worry. The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum announced that the Chris Christie Bobbleheads are now on sale $13 to match the percentage of New Jersey residents who have a favorable opinion of the exiting governor.
The museum actually introduced the bobbleheads back in July 2016 – and despite much hoopla – managed to sell only 200 of the 500 dolls manufactured, at a cost of $20.16.
With Christie leaving office, the museum figures this might be the right time to dump the rest on the unsuspecting public, some of whom might even be nostalgic for one of the state’s most controversial governors.

Bayonne will be a battleground

The two-way Bayonne mayoral race may get a lot more interesting shortly, if rumors that former Mayor Mark Smith plans to jump in with a third full ticket.
Smith barely lost his reelection bid to Jimmy Davis four years ago, due in part to the fact that different people ran different aspects of his campaign.
Oddly enough, the firm that ran part of the Smith campaign last time, Vision Media, will be working for Davis in the upcoming race. Joe DeMarco took a temporary leave of absence as Bayonne business administrator to become Davis’s campaign manager.
Former Assemblyman Jason O’Donnell, who is also challenging Davis, is tapping Sean Darcy, of Round World Consulting.
Darcy was communications director for Gov. Jon Corzine and New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Susan Bass Levin. He also worked as press secretary for Acting Gov. Richard Codey.
Smith reportedly is bringing in Pablo Fonseca, who helped Cory Booker’s Newark mayoral campaign, and ran West New York Mayor Felix Roque’s mayoral campaign as well as several West New York Board of Education tickets.
Most recently, Fonseca ran the campaigns of several successful Jersey City Board of Education candidates.
He also ran the failed Hoboken mayoral bid of Anthony Romano.
Ironically, Fonseca will be facing off against DeMarco. Both worked for Roque in West New York together for a time.
How serious Smith is about recapturing the mayoralty remains a mystery. Some believe his primary interest is in becoming the director of the proposed new county police academy and that his entering the race is to help Davis, so Davis will recommend him for the post.
But there is a danger of repeating the 1995 Bayonne election in which the person who was designed to cut the vote in favor of another candidate actually won.
It is perfectly possible Smith could win.

The Hoboken mess

Romano’s mayoral campaign in Hoboken still irks some of his opponents. They believe that Romano deliberately stayed in the race in order to split the vote and keep Councilman Michael DeFusco from becoming mayor, allowing Ravi Bhalla to win instead.
But Hoboken now has to live with the aftermath of the election, and Bhalla will have his hands full trying to pull together the various factions left on the council in the aftermath of an extremely negative campaign.
DeFusco, by default, becomes the loyal opposition to Bhalla. But with Rubin Ramos Jr. named as council president, Ramos will also become a formidable force against Bhalla, if Bhalla fails to make an alliance with him.
Most people believe Councilman Michael Russo will go along with most of Bhalla’s agenda, providing Bhalla has already assembled a majority vote.
Council members Peter Cunningham, Tiffanie Fisher, and Jen Giattino, with whom Bhalla had a serious conflict during the election, will likely vote his way provide he retains the reform agenda of his predecessor, Mayor Dawn Zimmer. But Hoboken being Hoboken, you can’t take anything for granted.

Al Sullivan may be reached at