Entries in New Jersey (57)


Newark Mayor Cory Booker Formally Announces Senate Bid

Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images(TRENTON, N.J.) -- Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced on Saturday that he will seek the Senate seat made vacant when Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., died earlier this week.

“I’m here today to officially announce my candidacy to be New Jersey’s next United States senator,” Booker said in a news conference. “Democracy is not a spectator sport, but now as much as in any time, we must bring people together. We must actually get into the complicated difficult messy arena and take on the difficult challenges, work in uncommon ways with conviction and courage.”

Booker, who has served as mayor of Newark for seven years, praised Lautenberg for his service and leadership in New Jersey and the Senate.

“As a senator and as a citizen, he has been one of the most impactful New Jerseyans. He was truly a giant in the United States Senate. He was a giant for our state and a giant for our nation from his service in World War II to his assiduous work and advocacy in the U.S. Senate,” he said. “Generations yet unborn will feel the impact of his leadership and contributions.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie set the date for the special election to fill Lautenberg’s seat for Oct. 16, three weeks before Christie faces re-election himself. On Thursday, Christie appointed state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa, a Republican, as interim senator, but Chiesa does not plan on running in the special election this year. The Democratic primary for the seat will be held in August.

Booker, 44, is well known for his heroic acts as well as for his active Twitter account. He said on Saturday he’s often been criticized for his tweeting, but that will not deter him.

“Too much Twitter from the mayor, too much exposure — there is not a criticism I haven’t heard over the years. I’ve heard it all but, there’s one thing that everyone has to admit about my life as a professional,” he said. “I do not run from challenges. I run towards them.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg Dead at 89

Office of Sen. Frank Lautenberg(NEW YORK) -- Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., the oldest U.S. Senator and the last remaining World War II veteran serving in the senate died on Monday. He was 89.

Lautenberg passed away at 4:02 a.m. on Monday at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell due to complications from viral pneumonia.

Lautenberg was a leader in the Senate with a particular passion for environmental protection, transportation and public health. During his career, Lautenberg had a hand in crafting legislation to curtail drunk driving, including setting the nationwide blood alcohol standard at .08.  He also co-wrote the new GI Bill for the 21st Century, and held the record for number of votes cast by a New Jersey senator.

Lautenberg announced earlier this year that he would not seek a sixth term in the Senate in 2014. He is survived by his wife, six children and their spouses, and 13 grandchildren.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Despite Huge Lead, Gov. Christie Fills Airwaves With Campaign Ads

Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images(TRENTON, N.J.) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is leading his gubernatorial opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono, by more than 30 points, but that hasn't stopped him from bombarding the airwaves with ads, including negative ones attacking Buono, and spending almost $4.5 million, according to the Christie campaign.

It's easy to wonder why.

New Jersey political experts and the two campaigns have weighed in on the question. But most important, despite a polling and financial lead, the governor, who is believed to have presidential ambitions in 2016, is taking nothing for granted in 2013.

Hank Sheinkopf, a longtime New York City Democratic strategist who has worked on New Jersey races said no one will remember just how negative these ads are getting, but they will remember a landslide.

"It is a Democratic state, and he's taking no chances and he wants to roll big numbers," Sheinkopf said. "No one will remember the negative ads outside of New Jersey, but when it's done, what people will remember nationally are his numbers in a Democratic state. As a Republican he wants to win big in a state that tends to vote for Democrats overall."

Christie is running five ads, including two negative ones, which try to paint Buono as being in lockstep with former Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, and accuse her of raising taxes and fees. Corzine, who lost to Christie in 2009, was also the former CEO of brokerage firm MF Global, which went bankrupt in 2011, prompting an investigation into Corzine's role in the collapse. It's easy to see why Christie wants to paint Buono with the same brush.

"I would have run a purely positive campaign," Christie told reporters earlier this month, according to Politicker N.J., but citing the outside super PAC, One New Jersey, that's running the negative ads against Christie, he said, "they started the fight, but I'll finish it."

New Jersey is a blue state. President Obama won it by more than 17 points over Mitt Romney, and the Garden State has a Democratic registration advantage of more than 700,000.

Kevin Roberts, Christie's campaign spokesman, spoke frankly. Despite the "positive signs" the campaign is seeing in both "polling and fundraising," he said, the "future looms large when you talk about the number of Democrats and the registration differential," and "history tells us that New Jersey hasn't always been favorable to Republicans running statewide."

"We're not taking anything for granted," Roberts said. "That is the motivating force. ... The race will tighten, and we need to educate [New Jersey voters] about her record in a way she won't."

Roberts said that Buono was "exclusively running a negative campaign," something the Christie campaign believes it needs to stay ahead of.

It's important to remember that running ads in New Jersey can be pricey. New Jersey does not have a market of its own but falls into the New York City and Philadelphia markets, which are among the most expensive in the nation.

Buono is only running one television ad in the New York City market, spending more than $1 million on the commercial that goes after Christie's economic record.

She's also backed by One New Jersey, which is spending almost $2 million on the race, running three anti-Christie television ads in the state. Another super PAC, Committee for Our Children's Future, is running positive ads on Christie's behalf, and has spent $7.8 million on the race (it started running ads in 2011). And the Republican Governors Association launched an ad this week that went after Buono. When asked by ABC News, the RGA wouldn't give specifics on how much money it had spent except to describe it as a "large buy." Another anti-Christie group, Garden State Forward, started by the state's largest teacher's union, has spent more than $500,000. Five months away from Election Day, it all adds up to a lot of ads.

Tuesday is primary day in New Jersey, marking the official start to the general election, which brings another question over ad spending that has yet to be answered.

Christie is not currently taking state public matching funds, which awards $2 for every $1 raised, but Buono is. The Christie campaign said it has not decided whether it would accept state matching funds in the general election, and it is currently fundraising exclusively through private donations. According to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, Christie is still subject to state contribution limits, which cap at $3,800 for the primary and $3,800 for the general election. If Christie continues to not take state matching funds, his primary money will roll over to the general election, but if he does, it won't, which means he would need to spend all of it before Tuesday. Buono will also not be able to roll over her primary funds because she is taking public funding.

Buono actually beat Christie in fundraising during the last period, according to the campaigns' 11 day pre-primary reports filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, but Christie still leads in overall fundraising. To date, Christie has raised $6,502,620 to Buono's $2,317,505, and he's spent $4,707,698 to Buono's $2,177,989. Christie has $1,795,586 cash on hand to Buono's $165,400.

David Turner, communications director for Buono said the registration disadvantage Republicans have in the state means Christie has to "mislead the voters."

"His failed economic record with more than 400,000 people unemployed and property taxes up nearly 20 percent [means] he's got to mislead the voters and distort Sen. Buono's record to distract from his failed economic policies," Turner said. "When you look at the issues and the issues most important to New Jersey, Gov. Christie has been abysmal, and I think he understands he's going to have to answer a lot of questions about why he's been unable to get New Jersey out of the economic morass it's currently in."

An aide for Buono said the campaign doesn't "fully understand" Christie's five-ad "strategy," calling it "odd."

"It's not typical ad strategy," the aide said. "Usually, you would saturate the market with your one ad so it penetrates."

A ranking New Jersey Republican told ABC News this week that both the Christie camp and the Republican Governors Association are acting as if they have a real challenge, because recent elections have shown New Jersey's electorate to be dangerously anti-Republican.

"Look, the laws of gravity in this state are very strong and the demographics just are awful for us," the source said.

The source insisted that Christie's potential run for president in 2016 is an after-thought as strategists map out the air assault for his gubernatorial re-election, although he admitted that a big margin of victory this year would help him going into a national run.

"It would be great for Christie and his future to run up the score, but that's not the main thing. In New Jersey, things change very fast, and you have to always watch your flank," the Republican said.

As for the RGA, it's easy to see why, despite the gap in the two candidates, it would want to help. Christie campaigned heavily for Republican candidates in 2012, often traveling out of state to help other Republicans, and he's also on the RGA's executive committee. If he wins in 2014, he will go on to lead the group. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential 2016 primary challenger for Christie, heads the group now.

John Weingart, the associate director of the Eagleton Institute for Politics at Rutgers University, said, "One contributor to his [Christie's] large lead is everyone knows who he is, and most people do not know who Barbara Buono is, so for candidates in that position it makes sense, given he has so much money for his campaign, to try to define Buono. ... It's a potentially effective way to do that instead of waiting until the fall where there will be more publicity and she will have more of her ads."

Weingart said there would be even more national attention on Christie as November gets closer, and Christie might want to grow his lead now so he doesn't need to be running negative ads then, all with the possibility of 2016 in mind.

"In October, he could run a very positive campaign, which would potentially be more appealing to people throughout the country who might be starting to look at him as a possible presidential candidate so the last image of this race would be to win with a campaign that seems attractive and to have had coattails where some legislative challengers were successful," Weingart said, referring to GOP state legislative candidates. "I think it is advantageous to a presidential campaign to be elected in a state that leans Democratic and to be able to say, 'When I was elected it was reasonably close, and when I was re-elected I won by a lot.'"

Weingart warned that Christie is defending himself against the unexpected, and if Buono were to raise even 5 or 10 points in the polls as the race gets closer, national money could come pouring in, and it's in the "interest of the Christie campaign to prevent that from happening."

There is also a historical perspective that Weingart said Christie would undoubtedly have on his mind. In 1985, Gov. Tom Kean -- New Jersey's most beloved Republican and Christie's mentor -- won with the largest margin of victory in the history of New Jersey gubernatorial races, defeating his Democratic opponent 71 percent to 24 percent.

That may be impossible now, but Weingart said Christie would love to have those "bragging rights in both a political and personal sense."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Obama, Chris Christie to Tour Recovery Efforts at Jersey Shore

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(ASBURY PARK, N.J.) -- Nearly six months after superstorm Sandy ravaged the Jersey Shore, President Obama will return to New Jersey on Tuesday to get a firsthand look at the recovery and rebuilding efforts.

Obama will join Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday afternoon in Asbury Park, N.J., where he will speak about the rebuilding efforts. The pair will tour areas that were hard hit by last September's storm.

In addition to the tour, President Obama will meet with citizens and business owners from the area, who "have shown such resilience in the face of the destructive storm, and make clear that while the rebuilding efforts to date have been extensive, the administration will continue to stand with the impacted communities as the important work of recovery continues," says a White House press release.

Obama and Christie took a similar tour of the damaged areas of New Jersey near the end of Obama's 2012 presidential campaign.

The stop in New Jersey comes just one day after the president toured Moore, Okla., to see firsthand the damage following last week's tornado.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Christie Joins GOP Governors in Expanding Medicaid 

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie -- an opponent of  the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare -- announced Tuesday that his state will participate in Medicaid expansion that is a centerpiece of the law’s attempt to give health insurance to the uninsured.

Christie is the eighth Republican governor to buy into the Medicaid expansion, which was made optional by the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Obamacare.

“While we already have one of the most expansive and generous Medicaid programs in the nation, including the second-highest eligibility rate for children, we have an opportunity to ensure an even greater number of New Jerseyans who are at or near the poverty line have access to critical health services beginning in January 2014,” Christie said at the State House Tuesday during an address on the New Jersey budget.

Half of the states have agreed to participate in Medicaid expansion, according to the Advisory Board, a health consulting firm.

The program will get its funding from the federal government for its first three years and begin contributing 10 percent of the costs in 2020, Christie said.

The announcement came as a bit of a surprise as Christie has often criticized the Affordable Care Act, but it also comes in the wake of an announcement from the Obama administration that states can lower their Medicaid payments to doctors and health care providers.

The New Jersey governor was quick to distance himself from Obama’s signature health care legislation Tuesday.

“I am not a fan of the Affordable Care Act,” Christie said. “I think it’s wrong for New Jersey, and I think it’s wrong for America.”

The governor twice vetoed state legislation that would have created health care exchanges under the ACA, saying the federal government had not made clear how much such a system would cost his state.

But Tuesday he reasoned that if New Jerseyians refused the Obamacare funds in the Medicaid expansion program, they would simply be spent on health care ventures in neighboring states.

“I will make all my judgments as governor based on what I believe is best for New Jersey.”

The New Jersey Star-Ledger first reported Christie’s plans hours before his press conference.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


NJ Gov. Christie Shows Softer Side Before Budget Address

ABC News(TRENTON, N.J.) -- The office of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday released a video teasing some of the issues the governor will highlight in his budget address Tuesday afternoon.

Named “Saving Lives Lasts Forever,” the video shows Christie’s State of the State address last month, as well as the governor who is up for re-election this year greeting constituents in diners, schools, hospitals and other locales.

Christie is also heard saying, “When you are governor, they often ask you if you are worried about legacy. If you are worried about legacy, you are probably focusing on the wrong thing. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be conscious of it.”

“And there are certain things that you do that you know will be temporary,” Christie says. “There are certain things you do that you hope will be permanent. Budgets come and go, taxes go up and down, but saving lives, saving lives that lasts forever.”

The video ends with the words “Recover. Rebuild. Restore.” written across the screen.

It’s a softer Christie than the tough-talking governor we often see. The video shows the possible 2016 presidential contender who’s more like the man seen in the days after Superstorm Sandy slammed into New Jersey, when he was hugging those affected and helping the most vulnerable, than the one known to tell New Jerseyans and Republicans alike to “shut up.”

The video seems to reflect the Christie administration’s more long-term priorities, including education and the economy. And it’s likely we will hear him discuss on Tuesday how he intends to balance the state’s budget amid tight funds and the need to rebuild after Sandy. It’s also possible that Christie will mention how he intends to deal with a possible expansion of Medicaid.

The address comes a day after news broke that Christie, 50, was “not being invited” to next month’s Conservative Political Action Conference, according to a source close to the event. The confab of conservative activists has almost 40 featured speakers, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who’ll deliver his first public address since losing in November.

Officially, CPAC says the schedule is still being finalized. Despite angering members of his own party in the past, Christie is one of the most popular governors in the country. A state poll by Quinnipiac earlier this month found a 74 percent approval rating for Christie, the highest of any New Jersey governor in 17 years of Quinnipiac polling in the state.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Poll: Chris Christie Reaches Record Approval Rating in NJ

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- “How high is up?”  That’s the question Wednesday from Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, which is out with a new New Jersey poll that’s a record breaker.

It shows a 74 percent approval rating for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the highest of any New Jersey governor in 17 years of Quinnipiac surveys.  New Jersey voters also say 71 to 23 percent that Christie deserves reelection this year.

Christie’s rating is currently the highest of any governor in the seven states surveyed by Quinnipiac.  Even 56 percent of New Jersey Democrats approve of Christie and 48 percent of them say he deserves reelection.  He leads his likely Democratic opponent, State Sen. Barbara Buono, 62 to 25 percent.

“Most governors would kill for a 56 percent job approval rating.  Republican Gov. Christie gets that from Democrats,” Carroll said in a release revealing the numbers.

This is similar to a Fairleigh Dickinson University Public Mind poll out last month that showed a 73 percent approval rating for Christie from Garden State voters.  The sky high numbers come after Christie’s response to Superstorm Sandy, which, at times, included him taking on members of his own party to get federal funds for rebuilding.

While Jersey Democrats approve of Christie, they appear to be split if he ends up running for president against Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016, the poll shows.

New Jersey voters favor the former secretary of state 49 to 45 percent, according to the poll.  New Jersey has not gone red in a presidential election since 1988.

Christie, however, tops potential White House rival New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo 54 to 36 percent.

“If the 2016 presidential race shapes up to be the battle of the Hudson, native son Christie tops New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the west bank of the river, but is locked in a tight race with the Empire State’s favorite adopted daughter, Hillary Clinton,” Carroll said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker Helps Rescue Freezing Dog

WABC/ABC News(NEWARK, N.J.) -- While out working on a story in New Jersey Thursday night, a reporter and camera crew from ABC's New York City affiliate WABC-TV noticed a dog left out in the cold.

Hours later, when they passed by again and saw that the dog was still outside, they decided to take the issue to Twitter -- and the mayor.

Reporter Toni Yates tweeted Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker and WABC.  In the tweet, she applauded Newark for its heat help, but added, “Make pet owners get their dogs out of the cold.”

In another tweet, she wrote that she asked the block captain to “do something, call someone,” but doubted he would.

People began re-tweeting the messages, and soon enough the mayor was on the scene with the shivering dog.

“This is brutal weather.  This dog is shaking really bad and you just can’t leave your dogs out here on a day like this and go away and expect them to be OK,” the mayor told WABC.  “Hypothermia on any animal including a human animal will set in pretty quickly.  So this is very sad.  You can just feel the dog shaking pretty badly.”

Booker picked up the dog and put it into the back of a police car.

“If you’d crank up that heat, I’d appreciate it,” he told the police officer.

Booker, 43, called the dog’s owner and told them it was unacceptable to leave the dog outside in the freezing weather, WABC reported.

The owners said they were in Queens, N.Y., and did not know that Cha Cha had gotten outside.  They said it was an accident and thanked the mayor for saving the dog, a new mother.

Booker, who’s exploring a run for U.S. Senate, later tweeted the reporter, “Because of you that dog was rescued.  Thank you for reaching out.  Thank u for your kindness.”

This is not the first time Booker has come to the rescue.  The mayor returned home one evening in April to find flames shooting out of his neighbor’s home.  A woman screamed that her daughter was still inside.

Booker and two of his security detail ran inside to rescue the woman, who Booker said he had known for years.  He carried her out of the building over his shoulder and the woman was treated for smoke inhalation and released.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sen. Frank Lautenberg Says Rival Could Use 'Spanking' -- This is probably not how Sen. Frank Lautenberg expected things to go down.

The New Jersey Democrat, who turns 89 on Wednesday, hasn't said whether he'll run for reelection in 2014.  In the meantime, popular Newark Mayor Cory Booker has filed papers to explore a run for the Democratic nomination, perhaps assuming that Lautenberg is ready to retire.

Previously, some aides of Lautenberg's told Politico that Booker's presumptuousness was disrespectful to a sitting senator from his own party.

And in an interview with, Lautenberg is finally speaking out about the controversy, acknowledging that Booker is "entitled" to run for his seat, then adding sarcastically that the mayor will "have to stand on his record and I'm sure he won't be a lone soldier out there drooling at the mouth and wanting this cushy job that we have here."

Lautenberg then took a not-so veiled swipe at his potential rival by saying, "I have four children, I love each one of them.  I can't tell you that one of them wasn't occasionally disrespectful, so I gave them a spanking and everything was OK."

As for the immediate future, the senator told, "I've got a lot of work to do yet, serious things and we pride ourselves (in) my office and my team (on) getting things done.  That's the focus.  I'm not thinking about the politics right now."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Chris Christie Says He’d Like Congress to Listen

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was cautiously optimistic on Wednesday morning that Congress will be able to pass a federal relief aid for the victims of Superstorm Sandy.

“I met with the congressional delegation yesterday, I’m hopeful,” he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America.  “But at the end of the day, it’s never done ’till it’s done. ...It’s never done ’till it’s done but I’m going to keep the pressure on.”

Christie, who had particularly pointed criticism at House Republicans after the relief bill was held up in the lower chamber, said that Sandy was “above politics,” and he hopes that both parties can learn to rise above, and learn to listen.

“Sandy is and was above politics.  There are certain things that happen in our lives that have to be above politics and both parties should rise above, as hard as that is for them sometimes,” he said.  “I’d like them to learn to listen.  Listen to people in my state, listen to the people in the state of New York.  They’re suffering, they’re hurting, and they don’t understand why they’ve had to wait seven times longer than the victims of Katrina to get any federal aid.”

Christie also discussed the question of gun control in the wake of the tragedy last month in Newtown, Conn., saying that an assault weapons ban has to be part of a larger conversation.

“We have one here,” he said.  “I think that’s got to be part of the entire conversation.  But if you stop there…You’re short changing the problem.”

The governor left the door open on his 2016 plans, saying his political focus right now is on his re-election campaign in New Jersey.

“You know, anybody who tries to plan four years from now, George, you know, is crazy. The fact of the matter is I’m going to follow the advice my mother gave me, which is to do the job that you have right now as well as you can do it and the future will take care of itself,” Christie said.  “What I want to do now is be the governor of New Jersey, as I said, for the last three years, I’d like to do it for the next four.”

However, Christie said he believes he will be more prepared to run in 2016 than he was in 2012.

“I will be more ready than I was in 2012 because I will have done my job for longer and hopefully gotten better,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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