In Reversal, Murphy Agrees to Cap Spending in the General

By Salvador Rizzo • 05/31/17

Observer

Phil  Murphy

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After dropping $20 million on the Democratic primary for governor, Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that if he wins, he would limit his spending in the general election to $13.8 million and apply for public matching funds.

Candidates for governor who participate in New Jersey’s public financing program get $2 in matching funds for every $1 they raise. But as a condition, their spending is capped by law at $13.8 million in the general election.

Murphy, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, declined to take matching funds for the primary and has blown well past the $6.4 million spending cap he would have faced.

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Public Education and the Candidates: Putting the Issues in Perspective

John Mooney | June 2, 2017

NJSpotlight

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli during a Republican gubernatorial primary debate

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Public education has already played a big role in the race to be New Jersey’s next governor — maybe as much as in any gubernatorial election in recent memory.

After nearly eight years of Gov. Chris Christie and his aggressive education agenda, the state is at a significant crossroads in terms of its public schools, and the candidates from both parties have almost universally made it a priority issue.

School funding has led the pack, with educators and advocates saying the continued underfunding of the state’s school-finance law has left districts and their communities in dire straits. Candidates on both sides of the aisle have each come up with their own solutions, although plans on how to fund them tend to be sketchy.

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NJ Gov Race: Johnson Swinging at Murphy Till the End

By Alyana Alfaro • 05/31/17

Observer

Jim Johnson speaks at a town hall event in Newark.

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NEWARK — In the waning days of the Democratic primary race for governor, Jim Johnson once again took aim at the front-runner, former U.S. ambassador Phil Murphy, and what he called a corrupt political system in New Jersey.

It has been the defining campaign theme for Johnson, a former white collar criminal defense lawyer who spent years working as a top U.S. Treasury official during President Bill Clinton’s administration. And polls show he has gotten some traction with his running-against-the-machine message and a smattering of TV ads.

But time is running out. The primary is scheduled for Tuesday. And Murphy remains in the lead, with Johnson a distant second in the most recent public polling.

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Settlements With New Jersey Suburb Clear Way for Proposed Mosque

A proposed mosque that had been blocked by officials in a New Jersey suburb will now be allowed to move forward after settlements were reached on Tuesday in lawsuits that accused the township of discriminating against Muslims.

Officials in the suburb, Bernards Township in Somerset County, voted last week to agree to the settlements, which will require the township to pay a little more than $3 million.

The township will also have to back down on some of its previous requirements — including a request for more than twice the number of parking spaces originally planned — which were cited in the lawsuits as complications created to stymie the mosque’s construction. In addition, township officials will have to participate in diversity and inclusion training.

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Enjoying those Trump Hotel profits, America? | Editorial

Last Jan. 11, in a moment of pointless stagecraft, Donald Trump and his attorney made an elaborate show of how transparent his business empire would be once he occupies the Oval Office, devising a strategy that would help everyone forget the Emoluments Clause.
 
That's the constitutional provision that prohibits a federal official from receiving anything of value (gifts, profits, etc.) from a foreign government without the approval from Congress.
 
"He is going to voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotel to the United States Treasury," attorney Sheri Dillon chirped. "This way, it is the American people who will profit."

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Political Winds Leave New Jersey Lawmaker Caught Between Party and Home

It was the scribbled footnote that did it, rippling across social media networks from northern New Jersey to Washington, revealing a pugnacious side of a low-key lawmaker.

In a fund-raising letter to a board member at a New Jersey bank, Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, Republican of New Jersey, said he wanted to combat well-organized opponents who had mobilized after the election of President Trump.

“P.S. — One of the ringleaders works in your bank!” Mr. Frelinghuysen, the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, wrote in blue ink. The person to whom he was referring, a senior vice president, resigned after being confronted with the letter by her boss.

The episode has drawn an ethics complaint against Mr. Frelinghuysen, who worked behind the scenes in Washington for 22 years before rising to a key post that places him at the center of the battle over Mr. Trump’s budget.

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Jim Johnson Delves Into His Personal History as Candidate for Governor

NEWARK — The journey that led Jim Johnson to a candidate forum here on a recent weeknight sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People began months ago inside a church in Montgomery, Ala.

It was the same church that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attended and it was part of a tour of civil rights monuments across the South that Mr. Johnson, 56, embarked on with his eldest daughter. As the son of a church organist, Mr. Johnson feels at home in a church, and he struck up a conversation with one congregation member.

“He said to me, ‘You know, I’m listening to you talk, I’m seeing how you are, you made your money, you’ve got your house, your car, your kids are taken care of, you have the nice clothes, but there’s something burning in your heart,’” Mr. Johnson said. He said the man paused before offering his advice: “‘Do that.’”

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NJ Gov Race: Guadagno Rises, Murphy Protects His Lead

By Salvador Rizzo • 05/25/17

Observer

Kim Guadagno.

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Kim Guadagno and Phil Murphy have double-digit leads over their rivals with less than two weeks to go before the June 6 primaries in the governor’s race, according to a Stockton University poll released Thursday.

Murphy, the former U.S. ambassador to Germany who has spent millions on his campaign, led the Democratic field with 34 percent support from likely voters, the poll found. His closest rival was former U.S. Treasury undersecretary Jim Johnson, who got 10 percent.

Both men are first-time candidates for public office who made their names outside New Jersey, but the poll showed them ahead of Assemblyman John Wisniewski and state Sen. Ray Lesniak, two former chairmen of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee. Wisniewski, however, got 9 percent support and is in a statistical tie with Johnson.

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Newark Parents’ LIFO Challenge Back in Court on Appeal

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Meatloaf again: Christie meekly accepts Trump's Medicaid cuts | Editorial

For all his professed concern over President Trump's $800 billion savaging of Medicaid, which would cripple drug treatment programs and especially hurt New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie admits he hasn't actually brought this up with, you know, Trump.
 
"The President's a little busy right now," Christie said yesterday. "The last time I saw him he was over at the Western Wall. So I haven't expressed that yet to the President."
 
Of course, that's a dodge, because these cuts have been in the works for months. And when a reporter pointed out that the President is still Tweeting, and has a phone, Christie said: "I'm trying to encourage him not to Tweet."

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