Menendez and Hugin Spar, With the Focus on Trump, in New Jersey Senate Debate

By Nick Corasaniti

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Oct. 24, 2018

Senator Robert Menendez, right, a Democrat from New Jersey, and the Republican challenger for his seat, Bob Hugin, engaged in a generally civil debate on Wednesday night in Newark.

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By Nick Corasaniti THE NEW YORK TIMES Oct. 24, 2018 Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey and his Republican challenger, Bob Hugin, squared off in a debate Wednesday night that simmered with an undercurrent of contempt, but rarely erupted into the mudslinging that has defined the race as the candidates repeatedly focused their disagreements on President Trump’s record.

The only scheduled debate between the men took place as the contest for Mr. Menendez’s seat has become unexpectedly close. Mr. Menendez is seeking re-election in a deeply blue state where Mr. Trump is immensely unpopular during a year when Democratic energy is surging.

But dogged by a federal corruption trial last year that ended in a hung jury, Mr. Menendez has maintained slim leads in most polls and has come under a wave of negative attacks from Mr. Hugin. A poll from Rutgers University released on Wednesday found Mr. Menendez leading by 5 points.

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WHAT DOES WHERE THEY STAND ON TRUMP SAY ABOUT HUGIN, MENENDEZ — AND FOR NJ?

COLLEEN O'DEA | OCTOBER 23, 2018

NJ Spotlight

Republican challenger Bob Hugin, left, and U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

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Behind the nasty political ads dominating New Jersey’s battle for a U.S. Senate seat are two candidates who seem to share similar positions on many issues, at least on the surface, although how strongly the GOP challenger supports President Donald Trump is up for debate.

Incumbent Bob Menendez, 64, has a record and is clear in his support of Democratic positions on issues ranging from healthcare to gun control and opposes virtually everything about the Trump administration.

Where former pharmaceuticals executive Bob Hugin, 63, stands is less clear. At least some of his TV ads do not even mention he is a Republican. He says he will be an independent voice for New Jerseyans if elected and espouses several positions that appear to clash with those of Trump’s — although he was a convention delegate for Trump and donated to his campaign in 2016. In other instances, Hugin has supported some of Trump’s actions outright, most recently backing the controversial nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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ACCESS TO MEDICINAL MARIJUANA CONTINUES TO EXPAND UNDER MURPHY

LILO H. STAINTON | OCTOBER 22, 2018

NJ Spotlight

Nearly twice as many patients are able to benefit from New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, compared to involvement in January, and access to the medicine has been eased, with hundreds of additional prescribers available and the wait time for treatment cut in half.

That’s the latest from the state Department of Health, which oversees the Garden State’s medicinal cannabis program and which is scheduled to release new data today.

The state’s Medicinal Marijuana Program now covers some 34,000 residents, half of whom have signed up for the nearly decade-old program in the past nine months, the DOH said. The majority of these new patients are diagnosed with one of five medical conditions — which include pain from various sources, anxiety and migraines — that were made eligible for coverage when Gov. Phil Murphy significantly expanded the scope of the program in March.

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Paul Ryan jabs at 'Montclair Mikie' in campaign event, says GOP is counting on N.J.

Posted Oct 17, 2018

House Speaker Paul Ryan, on left, with N.J. Assemblyman Jay Webber, R-26th District, at a rally in Hanover, Oct. 17, 2018 

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House Speaker Paul Ryan campaigned for 11th District Republican Congressional candidate Jay Webber on Wednesday, seeking to boost the GOP in one of the nation's most closely-watched Congressional races.

Webber, a state Assemblyman from Morris County, is in a tight race with Democrat Mikie Sherrill, in a district that ordinarily favors Republicans. The seat opened up in January after Republican Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen decided not to seek a 13th term.

Webber's race against Sherrill, a former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor who launched her campaign eight months before Frelinghuysen exited, is drawing national attention as Democrats seek to pick up enough seats to win control of the House on Nov. 6.

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Hugin adopts Trumpian sleaze with fake news about Menendez and hookers | Editorial

Posted Oct 17, 2018

Bob Hugin has released a TV ad which repeats six-year-old allegations that Sen. Bob Menendez had a predilection for underage prostitutes, an assertion that is based almost entirely on a single anonymous source cited in an affidavit from an FBI special agent before the senator's 2016 corruption trial. 

Even the FBI doesn't know the identity of the anonymous source, and prosecutors never felt confident enough in its reliability to include this in their indictment of Menendez. But Hugin is relying on this charge to close the gap in the polls three weeks before Election Day.

So it's time to look at the core claims. The FBI agent, Gregory Sheehy, gave 23 pages of testimony that mostly recited information from an anonymous informant who called himself "Pete Williams."

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This time, let's really investigate the Murphy staffer accused of rape | Editorial

Posted Oct 15, 2018

Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at a press conference about rape allegations made against a staffer, who resigned on Oct. 2. 

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Gov. Phil Murphy had a chance to investigate a top aide accused of sexually assaulting a woman, before the guy was hired for a government job. He blew it.
 
Even worse, so did the prosecutor. So while we welcome the probe that the governor promised Monday, to be headed by former Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero, it still won't be enough.
 
Verniero is a Republican, so this is not just some partisan wash job. That said, though, we're a state that has been burned by the fictional Mastro report. So why take that risk?

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Newark clergy stands by Menendez in U.S. Senate race despite ethics issues

Reverend Dr. David Jefferson, Sr., Esq. (left), pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, said that U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (right) should be elected to stop President Donald Trump.
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NEWARK, NJ - U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez came to Newark to get what he needs in an unexpectedly close reelection battle - prayer, provided by clergy members who will drum up critical urban votes despite the senator's recent ethics issues. 

"One thing that I love about this man is that he understands that this is not about him. It's about the decisions he makes that serve the people we see every Sunday morning," said the Reverend Dr. David Jefferson, Sr., Esq., pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, who hosted more than 50 clergy members who came out to support Menendez. "We need someone to paralyze the hand of Donald Trump." 

The Newark clergy rally comes as Menendez is locked in close electoral combat with Republican challenger Bob Hugin in the Nov. 6 election. Some recent polls have shown the gap between Menendez and Hugin to be a statistical dead heat, while others have shown the incumbent ahead by a wider six to ten-point margin.

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GOVERNOR, DEMS CAUTIONED IT’S TIME TO REPAY AFRICAN-AMERICAN SUPPORT

ARK J. BONAMO | OCTOBER 15, 2018

NJ Spotlight

L to R: The Rev. Dr. Charles F. Boyer, Dianna Houenou, La'Quay Laun'Juel, and Bill Caruso spoke in support of cannabis legalization at the NAACP New Jersey State Conference convention.

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Little more than three weeks from Election Day, it should come as no surprise that New Jersey’s African-American community is united in support of the Democratic ticket in this year’s critical 2018 midterm elections. Yet, members of the community are unsatisfied with what they’ve seen thus far in the political and economic aftermath of the state’s 2017 gubernatorial election.

“Ninety-four percent of black voters supported Governor Murphy,” said Ryan P. Haygood, president & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, speaking at the annual New Jersey State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People convention on Saturday. “You would think that 94 percent of the vote against these racial disparities would entitle us to a very specific plan of action. But it’s become very clear to me that he doesn’t have a specific plan for black people. And when you cast 94 percent of your vote for a particular candidate, that candidate has to be accountable to you.”

Haygood's reference to the 94 percent signifier of near-unanimous black political support for Gov. Phil Murphy underscores three critical policy concerns he and other African-Americans feel the progressive Democrat has yet to address since taking office in January: changing New Jersey's youth justice system, restoring the right to vote to people with criminal convictions, and closing the racial wealth gap.

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New Jersey Governor’s Inner Circle Roiled by Sexual Assault Allegations Against Top Official

By Nick Corasaniti

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Oct. 11, 2018

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey speaking at an event this month in Nutley, N.J.

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A top administration official to the governor of New Jersey, Philip D. Murphy, resigned abruptly last week with no public explanation. This week news reports emerged that the aide, Albert J. Alvarez, had been the subject late last year of a sexual assault investigation by a county prosecutor.

Now Mr. Alvarez’s departure and the circumstances surrounding it are roiling Trenton, with top Republicans in the Legislature calling for hearings and Democrats working behind the scenes to find out more about the investigation and the actions taken by the Murphy administration.

At an unrelated event on Tuesday, Mr. Murphy, a Democrat who was elected in November, declined to offer any details about Mr. Alvarez’s resignation.

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MacArthur lies again about health care - this time, to baby boomers | Editorial

Posted Oct 11, 2018

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-3rd Dist.) lied about protecting people with pre-existing conditions. Now he's lying about boomers. 

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Apparently, older people in even the reddest parts of Tom MacArthur's district are now asking him about alarming mailers that say he wants to charge them more for their health insurance. Awkward.
 
The congressman (R-3rd Dist.) scoffed at this idea before a friendly crowd in Ocean County. "How many of you are getting mail every day saying there's some 'age tax'? Have you see that one? I've been asked about it four or five times this morning already. That is a lie. That is just a lie."
 
No, it is not. And it is MacArthur who is deliberately misleading here. Boomers are right to press him on this. After all, the only reason they aren't paying more right now is that MacArthur didn't get his way.

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