The Star-Ledger reports: “A total of 2,955 gay couples were married in New Jersey from Oct. 21, when same-sex weddings began under the orders of a state judge, through the end of March, according to the state health department. At the same time, 43,619 heterosexual couples were wed. That means about one of 15 marriages performed in the state during that period were for same-sex couples.”
The paper adds: “Activists said they expect the pace will increase as the wedding season begins next month. One observer said gay marriages could bring up to $94 million to New Jersey’s economy over the next three years. She suspects many couples from Pennsylvania, which does not allow gay marriage, will also cross the border to get hitched.”
Politico reports: “New Jersey voters think an investigation commissioned by Gov. Chris Christie’s office that cleared him of wrongdoing in the George Washington Bridge scandal is a “whitewash,” according to a new poll. Of the 96 percent of New Jersey voters who had heard of the controversy over the lane closures and resulting traffic jam on the bridge, allegedly ordered by Christie’s staff as political retribution, 56 percent said the investigation was a “whitewash,” according to a Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday. Thirty-six percent said the investigation was a legitimate one.”
One other bad bit of news for Christie: Two-thirds of Jersey voters believe he ordered the bridge closure; Christie has denied involvement.
You’ve already heard about the Joy Behar incident. There are a lot more golden tidbits in this week’s New Yorker profile of Chris Christie. Here are five of our favorite:
Christie owes some of his political success to New Jersey’s Democratic machine: That might sound odd, considering Christie’s a Republican. But the New Yorker article details how Christie’s relationship with two Democratic bosses — Joe DiVincenzo and some guy named George Norcross — has helped him to smooth sailing as governor. During Christie’s re-election campaign, in fact, “there seemed to be an informal non-compete agreement between (Norcross’s) organization and the Governor: Christie mostly stayed away from Norcross’s candidates, and Norcross mostly stayed out of the gubernatorial race.” DiVencenzo endorsed Christie outright. Christie’s ability to get along with Democrats — and thus appeal to centrists — was a rationale for his once-burgeoning presidential campaign. But as told here, the accommodations here seem less ideological, and more about power accommodating power.
Christie’s first political victory, election as a freeholder in the mid-1990s, was the result of a demonstrable lie:
This time, he was a reform candidate, promising to restore honest government, and he produced a TV ad charging that three of his opponents in the nine-person Republican primary were being “investigated by the Morris County prosecutor,” a serious accusation that happened to be false. Christie won the primary and then the general election, in part by assuring a more socially moderate electorate, “I am pro-choice.” But his victory was marred by the divisiveness of the campaign. The three victims of Christie’s false ad, including a freeholder named Cecilia Laureys, successfully sued him for defamation, and, after he lost an appeal, as part of the settlement he was forced to apologize to them in local newspapers.
Don’t Eff With Family, Part One: This has nothing to do with Christie, really, but is a great story about Norcross — and his mid-80s attempt to get State Sen. Lee Laskin to stop blocking the appointment of Norcross’s father to the New Jersey Racing Commission:
Norcross went to see him. “Senator, I come here as a son asking for a favor for his father,” Norcross said. “I don’t want my dad to know I ever came here to see you. This would mean the world to him. It would mean the world to me, and I would be forever indebted to you personally if you did this for my dad.”
Laskin leaned over his desk. “Fuck you and your father,” he said, according to Norcross. “All you corrupt Democrats.”
Norcross bided his time for six years — then took out a $430,000 personal loan to launch a blitz of negative ads againt Laskin’s re-election campaign. “We blew him away,” Norcross said. “It was the most exciting night I’ve ever had in politics in my life to this day.”
Don’t Eff With Family, Part Two: The New Yorker profile opens with former Gov. Thomas Kean, a mentor to Christie, seeming to withdraw his support. It’s not until the end we find out why — Christie was part of an attempted “coup” to remove Kean’s son, Thomas Jr., from his position as Senate Minority Leader.
On Wednesday, the night before the crucial vote to elect leaders for the new session, Christie’s chief of staff, Kevin O’Dowd, who had been a prosecutor under Christie in the U.S. Attorney’s office, asked Kean, Jr., to come to the Governor’s office the following morning. There he told him that Christie wanted him to step aside. “I don’t think I’m willing to step aside,” Kean replied. O’Dowd disappeared to talk to Christie. When he returned, he told Kean that the Governor didn’t want to see him. Kean, Sr., didn’t expect his son to prevail. “I know how tough Chris is on people, and if you cross him he never forgets,” he said. “I didn’t think people were going to have the courage to take on the Governor after his reëlection.” Nevertheless, Kean retained his role as senate minority leader.
Tom Kean, Sr., felt betrayed by Christie’s move against his son. “I thought at some point the Governor would call me and say, ‘Hey, you gotta understand this, I had to do this for this reason or that reason.’ Whatever. But he never called me. The last time I talked to him was Election Night.”
The Watchdog Senator’s Investigative Background: Here’s how the Bridgegate scandal got started:
The bridge scandal might never have been revealed if not for the sleuthing of Loretta Weinberg, a seventy-nine-year-old self-described nosy Jewish grandmother who is also a Democratic state senator from Teaneck, New Jersey, just northwest of Fort Lee. “I bungled into the Port Authority issue, just out of my curiosity,” she told me.
In September, Weinberg read an item in the Bergen Record about the traffic jam. A commuter told the paper, “Other than after the 9/11 attacks, I’ve never seen such a fiasco of delays at the inbound, upper-level part of the bridge.” A senior official at the Port Authority promised Weinberg that he would “get to the bottom of it,” but when she didn’t hear back she became suspicious. “My training comes from having raised children through their adolescent years,” she told me. “ ‘What do you mean you didn’t have a party? You weren’t even smart enough to put the beer cans in someone else’s back yard.’ That’s my investigatory background.”
And yeah, that makes us kind of love Loretta Weinberg.
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We told you this morning about the New Yorker’s Chris Christie profile. It includes this moment early on from a roast where comedian Joy Behar was participating:
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NJ.com reports on the latest goings-on in the grand jury investigating Bridgegate:
David Wildstein, the former Port Authority official at the center of the George Washington Bridge lane-closings scandal, spent several days meeting with federal prosecutors in Newark last week, according to a report posted online by a Washington-based publication that says it covers “insider news” about the U.S. Department of Justice.
The publication, called “Main Justice,” is also reporting that Charlie McKenna, former chief legal counsel to Gov. Chris Christie, met secretly in mid-January with investigators in the office of New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
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If the air in Philly seemed a bit grittier than usual on Monday — provided you got a break from the rain — we now have the reason: Smoke from a brushfire at Wharton State Forest got so thick it could be seen both from New York City and Philadelphia. NBC 10 reports:
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The New Yorker has a long profile of Chris Christie, and it isn’t pretty — he bullied Joy Behar! — but the center of it may be his falling out with former N.J. Governor Thomas Kean:
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Remember Chris Christie’s lawyers absolved him of all culpability in the Bridgegate scandal, and he went on a triumphant media tour that included a big interview with Diane Sawyer? Like, two weeks go?
He maybe should’ve waited.
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The conflict is simple: Electric car-maker Tesla Motors wants to sell its vehicles directly to the Jersey car-buying public. New Jersey officials want Tesla to use dealerships, under state laws that really, truly aren’t about preserving the livelihoods of the state’s car-dealers but most assuredly are about accountability to consumers. Or so they say.
In any case: “Electric-car company Tesla Motors has filed notice it intends to go to court to appeal New Jersey’s ruling that would stop it from selling its vehicles in the state within two weeks. The notice, filed last week to the state appellate division, seeks to overturn regulations imposed by the state Motor Vehicle Commission that require new-car dealers to have franchise agreements before they can be licensed. Those regulations, proposed last fall and implemented last month, effectively will prohibit Tesla from using its direct-sales model. The company, based in Palo Alto, California, has been selling cars at two locations in New Jersey for about two years.” (AP)
ABC US News | ABC Business News
NJ Gov. Chris Christie was interviewed Thursday night by ABC’s Diane Sawyer, and made the case that he shouldn’t be blamed for the “Bridgegate” scandal afflicting his administration — not even to the point that his abrupt personal style might’ve accidentally influenced the staffers who sought revenge on a Democratic mayor by creating traffic problems near the George Washington Bridge at Fort Lee.
But he feels bad about the affair: “You don’t sleep, you don’t eat,” he said.
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