Between The Lines

Poll shows people not happy with state government

Armed with a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll that showed a majority of New Jersey residents feel overtaxed and dissatisfied with the state’s handling of financial issues, some groups associated with the state Republican party have launched a recall movement against Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

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The poll said about eight in 10 of those polled feel they pay too much in taxes and are not happy with what the state government is doing about the affordability of living in the Garden State.

The poll was conducted by Rutgers-Eagleton in collaboration with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA).

“Eighty-two percent of residents think they pay too much in taxes for what they get, and large majorities believe the taxes they pay – namely, property taxes (79 percent), the 41.4 cent gas tax (77 percent), and the state income tax (62 percent) – are unfair. Only the sales tax sits well with residents, with over half (58 percent) saying the tax is reasonable,” the pollsters said. “New Jerseyans moreover feel the state government is not doing much to relieve the financial pressure.”

“New Jerseyans across the board – Democrats and Republicans alike – continue to be upset with what it costs to live in this state, what the government is doing about it, and with the idea of any new taxes,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “

In this poll, 1,203 adults were contacted between March 7 and 22. Live callers over landlines and cell phones called 621 people and 582 were contacted through an online probability-based panel.

Dump the governor?

After several failed attempts, a recall committee led by Dr. Jenna M. Evans, chairman of the South Jersey Young Republicans, Eric J. Shuttleworth, and Monica Brinson, former gubernatorial candidate, received the approval from the state to recall the governor.

While it is unclear just how much traction this will have in a state in which Democrats are becoming increasingly powerful, the drive has become a stateside movement involving a number of Republican and conservative groups.

Some of the most populated parts of the state also have the most progressive leaders, such as Rep. Bill Pascrell in Passaic and Bergen Counties, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, and Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.

Joseph Rullo, who is from Ocean County and sought the GOP in 2017 but ultimately lost to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, has been heavily promoting the effort.

But the movement also appears to have some support from mainstream Democrats, who claim the party has moved to the extreme left, a political position Murphy has embraced.

In order for the recall to get put on a ballot, this group must gather more than 1.4 million signatures.

Some of the issues of concern are Murphy’s declaring New Jersey a sanctuary city as well as his aggressive taxing.

Roque wakes up to alleged betrayal

West New York Mayor Felix Roque appears to be the last kid on the block to realize he’s been betrayed by his one time political ally, state Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack.

Stack, along with Roque, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla tried to force Tom DeGise not to run for reelection next year.

But when DeGise refused, and decided to run his daughter, Amy DeGise against Stack for chair of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, Stack apparently brokered his own deal to allow Amy to win.

Stack was never after the chairmanship. He and his group of rebels were looking to wrestle control of county patronage out of the hands of state Senator and North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco. They saw DeGise as the weak link.

The chair of the HCDO at time can be a full time job, especially when the primary job is to raise money. This means groveling before the mayors who actually make up the real power structure in Hudson County.

Can anyone imagine Stack having to grovel before someone like Nick Sacco?

Of course, the political career that has been most damaged by the coup has been Roque since Bhalla, Stack and Fulop have already made their peace with the HCDO.

Roque is facing an uphill reelection campaign in which his opponents are being backed by Rep. Albio Sires and Sacco, as well as the HCDO.

“My poll shows I have good name recognition,” said the eternally hopeful Roque, who had denied being aided by former Bergen County political boss, Joe Ferriaro, and one-time Sires’ ally Rene Abreu.

If Roque hopes to salvage his election, he may well have to sell voters on the idea that a vote for any of his opponents is largely one to create a puppet government, the strings of which are being pulled by Hudson County political bosses.

Russo may face a challenger after all

In what many people see as a smart political strategy, Hoboken 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo has aligned himself with Mayor Bhalla in an effort to prevent Bhalla from putting up a candidate to run against him.

This may well have backfired, since rumor suggests that Andrew Impastato might consider running against Russo.

Impastato is an ally of Bhalla’s arch enemy, First Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco.

If true, then this would help DeFusco’s reelection efforts as well since both would put pressure on Russo and Bhalla in the November election.

DeFusco has a large war chest, and though Russo has been seen as invincible in the third ward for years, Russo’s base isn’t want it once was.

Al Sullivan can be reached at

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