Thursday, November 17, 2016

New Jersey Politics In a Nutshell

Where do I begin?  I've spent so much time on national politics these past few months that I completely overlooked the political landscape of my home state.  Well, let me try to sum up the state of the state of New Jersey in one mind-numbing post . . .  
Governor Chris Christie let the Transportation Trust Fund, which funds our road and rail projects, expire in July, idling several road construction projects across the state.  I assumed it would be fixed by the governor and the legislature in a couple of weeks.  Nothing could have prepared me for how long it took, a period of several months.  But Christie and the Democratic legislature finally got a bill passed, and everything was taken care of.  We simply have to pay 23 cents a gallon extra for gas now. 
Meanwhile, Democrat and former Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy, a former Wall Street executive, announced his candidacy for governor in 2017.  It looked for awhile that Murphy, a relative unknown, might end up becoming the Martin O'Malley of New Jersey politics . . . a nice Irish guy overshadowed by two big political stars, in this case two guys named Steve - State Senate President Steve Sweeney and Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop, both of whom had wanted to run for the New Jersey Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2017.  But Sweeney and Fulop, noting the size of Murphy's wallet - he's a millionaire who can finance his own campaign - both took themselves out of the running, pretty much clearing the way for Murphy's nomination.  He's so progressive on the issues, you'd never know he used to work for Goldman Sachs.  He'd prefer that you not bring that up, of course . . . :-D  But I still plan to vote for him.              
Also, Christie aides Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly were found guilty in their apparent conspiracy to close traffic lanes on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge in order tie up traffic in the town of Fort Lee, where the bridge links Interstate 95 and U.S. Routes 1 and 9 (that's right, the George Washington Bridge is part of three highways) between New Jersey and Manhattan.  The lane closures were meant as payback against Fort Lee's Democratic mayor because he refused to endorse Christie's re-election bid in 2013.  Both defendants are appealing.
Christie hasn't been charged with anything, but he is reported to have known about the lane closures at a time when he insisted he knew nothing.  He's damaged goods, and Donald Trump knows that he's irrevocably damaged, which is why Christie will likely not be heading for Washington to become the new President's Attorney General or become anything else.  Oh, he's not damaged in Trump's eyes because of the bridge scandal.  It's because Christie prosecuted Ivanka Trump's father-in-law, developer and bank mogul Charles Kushner, for tax evasion and got him sent to the slammer for a year, something Kushner's son Jared - Ivanka's husband - wasn't too happy about, believing his father to be innocent.  Trump used Christie to win, then dropped him like a hot potato.  Christie, who once thought he'd be succeeding Barack Obama in the White House, is likely going back to New Jersey, and with less heat that he had a couple of years ago . . . and even a couple of days ago.          

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