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The 4 fronts of New Jersey political battles

Alvarez, donor disclosure, state chairman fight, weed, minimum wage and state budget all loom large

By David Wildstein, January 07 2019 10:41 am

New Jersey is presently fighting battles on four fronts:

1. Alvarez Investigation: The joint Legislative Select Oversight Committee will resume hearings this week in their probe of the Murphy administration’s hiring practices and will hear from top campaign, transition and governor’s office officials on Tuesday and Thursday.  The panel was formed amidst allegations that Al Alvarez, a Murphy aide, sexually assaulted Katie Brennan, during Murphy’s 2017 campaign for governor.  The Middlesex County prosecutor’s office is taking another look at potential criminal charges against Alvarez.

2. Donor Disclosure: A non-profit group connected to Gov. Phil Murphy, had pledged to disclose their donors last spring but in December said that had changed their minds.  Murphy played good cop/bad cop last week, saying the committee run by some of his closest political advisors should release their contributor list.  The issue took a “new direction” on Sunday when POLITICO reported that a non-profit run by South Jersey Democrats took money from PSEG around the same time the utility company won a $300 million subsidy for nuclear power championed by South Jersey Democrats.

3. State Chairman Race: In a contest that is becoming a must-win for both sides, Democratic State Chairman John Currie is facing a challenge from Essex County Democratic Chairman LeRoy Jones.  Murphy is all-in for Currie and risks taking assuming his post as chairman of the Democratic Governor’s Association in 2020 having just lost control of his own state party.  Since the vote won’t take place until December 2019 or January 2020, the effects of this fight will be omnipresent throughout the year.

4. Policy Issues: The governor and the Legislature – Democrats all – are battling over the details of a move to legalize marijuana and increase the minimum wage to $15-per-hour.  Next up is the state budget, which must be passed before July 1, 2019 or the government could face a shutdown.

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