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Garden State Coalition of Schools
Elisabeth Ginsburg, Executive Director
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11-6-13 What's Next in Trenton: Lame Duck Legislature 'til early January 2014
GSCS Note: The 'Lame Duck' legislature starts tomorrow with a convening of the Senate. The Lame Duck session will go through the beginning of January 2014 when yesterday's elected legislature and Governor are sworn in to the next legislative season. While GSCS has heard from the Statehouse that secondary education is not on the front burner for lame duck, this 'in-between' transition time for the old and the new legislature always bears close observation, as unanticipated bills may crop up for fast-track passage. GSCS will be watching closely...Stay Tuned...

See attached election overview by Princeton Public Affairs Group, Inc. - 2013 Post Election Analysis -Overwhelming Win for Christie—Democrats Retain Control of Legislature

Princeton Public Affairs Group, Inc. - 2013 Post Election Analysis -Overwhelming Win for Christie—Democrats Retain Control of Legislature

In a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 730,000 voters, Governor Chris Christie cruised to a big win over State Senator Barbara Buono by almost 23 points. This marked the largest margin for a Republican in almost three decades. The Governor’s Twitter account summed it up best as it said earlier in the week, “When you're a Republican in New Jersey, you can't take anything for granted. You have to work for every vote you get.” At the end of the day, early exit polling showed that the Governor walked away with 32% of the Democratic vote, 66% of independents and 61% of moderates. The Governor also held a significant fundraising advantage over his opponent from both in state and out of state contributors.

Throughout the campaign, the Governor had poll numbers showing the potential for a landslide win. Democrats were concerned that a big Christie win could impact their hold on the Legislature. However, as we go to print, last night’s legislative outcomes showed a very different result. The Senate Democrats will maintain their 24-16 edge as all incumbents were reelected. In the Assembly, The GOP picked up one seat in the First District cutting the Democrats majority to 47-33 when the new session begins in January.

With the exception of Gloucester County, where Democrats took control, incumbents fared well in County Freeholder races across the state. On the local side, Atlantic City has a new Mayor, Don Guardian, while incumbent Mayors won in Camden, Hamilton, and Hoboken.

New Jersey voters approved a Constitutional amendment to permit money from existing games of chance to support veterans’ organizations. Additionally, voters overwhelmingly approved the Constitutional amendment to set the state minimum wage to $8.25 with annual cost of living increases each year.

The Lame Duck Session of the New Jersey Legislature will begin on Thursday. This is the same day the legislative caucuses will hold their leadership elections. The new two year Legislative Session will start on Tuesday, January 14, 2014.


Here is a look at some of the key results from Tuesday:

Gubernatorial Race

Governor Chris Christie (R) with Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno carried a commanding lead over challenger State Senator Barbara Buono (D) and her pick for Lieutenant Governor Union leader Milly Silva. The 20-point plus win over Buono was a result of a number of factors including Christie’s strong public approval, and of course, his significant fundraising advantage.

Christie improved on his record in his first election with a number of key groups. Most notably, the campaign reported that 57% of women voters supported the Governor compared to 45% in 2009, there was a 12-point improvement in African-American voters, and an “outright majority” of 51% of the Hispanic vote up from the 32% received in 2009.

In his victory speech, Christie touched on his bipartisan record when he said that, “We stand here tonight showing that it is possible to put doing your job first. To put working together first. To fight for what you believe in yet still stand by our principles and get something done for the people who elected you.” The Governor also noted, “I know that if we can do this in Trenton, New Jersey, then maybe the folks in Washington, D.C. should tune in their TVs right now and see how it’s done.” The Governor’s Victory Speech is available here.

Buono’s concession speech took a swing at Democratic Party Bosses. Buono said that, “They didn't do it for the state. They did it to help themselves politically and financially. But we did it our way and I’m proud of that.” The State Senator also noted, “And so I took one for the team. The only problem—I realized too late. There was no team.” Concession speech is available here.


State Legislative Elections

District 1 (Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland)

Incumbent Senate Democrat, Jeff Van Drew, ran for reelection against Republican challenger, Susan Adelizzi SchmidtThomas Greto ran for Senate as an independent.  Van Drew was joined on the ballot by incumbent Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Bob Andrzejczak, a war veteran, who was appointed to the seat earlier this year when Matt Milan resigned.  Albano, who has been in office since 2006, was defeated by Republican Sam FiocchiVan Drew will return to the Senate along with challenger Fiocchi and Andrzejczak in Trenton.


District 2 (Atlantic)


Incumbent Senate Democrat Jim Whelan sought reelection against popular Sheriff Republican Frank X. Balles.  For the Assembly, Republican incumbents, John F. Amodeo and Chris Brown, who took office in 2008 and 2012 respectively, were challenged by Democrats, Vincent Mazzeo and Nick Russo.  At the end of the day, Senator Whelan emerged victorious in his campaign to retain his seat, and Republicans Amodeo and Brown won their re-election bids for the General Assembly.


District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)


Democrat Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, an incumbent who first assumed office in 2004, defended his Senate seat against Republican opponent Niki A. Trunk.  In addition, Republicans, Larry Wallace and Bob Vanderslice, went up against incumbent Democrats, John J. Burzichelli and Celeste M. Riley for election to the General Assembly.  In the wake of a contest where both sides spent heavily, Senate President Sweeney won reelection to the Senate and Assembly members Burzichelli and Riley were successful in their quest for reelection to the General Assembly.


District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)


Incumbent Democrats, Senator Linda R. Greenstein as well as Assemblymen Wayne P. DeAngelo and Daniel R. Benson faced a field of Republican and Libertarian candidates in the election.  Republican Peter A. Inverso along with Libertarian Don Dezarn challenged Greenstein for her seat in the State Senate.  Assemblymen DeAngelo and Benson, who assumed office in 2008 and 2011 respectively faced Republican opponents, Ronald Haas and Steve Cook along with Libertarians, Sean O’Connor and Steven Uccio in the General Assembly election.  With the votes totaled, Greenstein will represent the Fourteenth District in the Senate, accompanied by DeAngelo and Benson in the Assembly.


District 18 (Middlesex)


The Eighteenth District hosted a legislative election that included the Senate seat vacated by Barbara Buono. Incumbent Assemblyman Peter Barnes was challenged by Republican David Stahl. Democrats, Patrick J. Diegnan, an incumbent who first assumed office in 2002, and Nancy Pinkin, who ran for Barnes’ former seat, faced Republicans Robert A. Bengivenga and Lisa Goldhamer in the General Assembly election. Barnes will fill Buono’s former Senate seat. Diegnan and Pinkin were elected to the General Assembly.


District 38 (Bergen and Passaic)


Democratic Senator Bob Gordon, who has been in office since 2008, ran for reelection against Republican challenger Fernando A. Alonso.  Joining Gordon on the Democratic ticket, incumbent Assemblymen Timothy J. Eustace and Joseph Lagana ran against Republicans Joan Fragala and Joseph J. Scarpa in the General Assembly election. This district proved to be the most hotly contested in the state with the Democratic ticket maintaining control of all three seats.


Key County Races


The race for County Freeholder was tight in Bergen County with Republican incumbents losing one of their three seats on the Board of Chosen Freeholders.  The win for the Democrats gives them a 5-2 majority.


The Republican incumbent Freeholder fended off a challenge by the Democrats retaining the balance of power in a 3-2 Republican advantage. The Democrats have not held a majority in more than two decades.


The Democrats took total control of the County Freeholder Board as the Republicans lost the two seats they held.


The two incumbent Freeholders, one Democrat and one Republican, retained their seats in Salem County.  The Republican retain their 4-3 majority.


Local Races

There were no big surprises in three of the state’s local races where incumbents won reelection in Camden, Hamilton, and Hoboken.  However, in an upset, Atlantic City has a new Mayor, Don Guardian, who will be the first Republican to lead the city since 1990. Don Guardian beat incumbent Lorenzo Langford 50.14% to 47.49%. Incumbent Mayor Dana Redd won reelection in Camden with 60% of the votes.  Her closest challenger received 20%. The Republicans swept in Hamilton with the incumbents retaining their Mayor and Council seats. In Hoboken, former state Assemblyman Ruben Ramos lost his bid to unseat Mayor Dawn Zimmer.


Key Ballot Questions

Fundraising for Veterans

Voters approved a popular ballot question designed to aid veterans’ organizations. These organizations that have been facing the reality of financial hardships proposed that they be included in the current New Jersey law that allows senior citizen groups to keep money raised through hosting games of chance like bingo, lotto, and raffles. It is required that the money raised be used for “educational, charitable, patriotic, religious or public-spirited purposes” only. Both houses voted unanimously to place this question on the ballot. Governor Christie then signed the bill in August.

Minimum Wage

The ballot question to increase the state’s minimum wage was easily approved by voters. In New Jersey, the hourly minimum wage of $7.25 mirrors the minimum mandated by the federal government. The ballot question sought to make a Constitutional amendment to immediately raise this to $8.25 an hour, and to build in an automatic annual increase tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

When the wage increase was proposed in the Legislature, the Governor conditionally vetoed the initiative. Through a simple majority over two successive sessions, the Democrats in the Legislature were able to place the issue in front of New Jersey voters to make the decision.


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608