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Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Murphy waving GOP senators off budget

Kean acknowledges Governor calling Republican Senators

By Nikita Biryukov, June 21 2018 3:14 pm

Phil Murphy’s making calls.

The governor has been reaching out to Republican senators to try to stop any GOP votes that might otherwise go to Senate President Steve Sweeney’s budget.

A handful of defections from Democratic senators could block legislative leaders’ budget. At least two Democratic senators have indicated on the condition of anonymity that they will vote against the budget as it is now.

It’s not clear how many Republicans Murphy has reached out to.

Eight of the fifteen Republican senators – Sam Thompson, Tony Bucco, Dawn Addiego, Declan O’Scanlon, James Holzapfel, Kristin Corrado and Gerald Cardinale – said the governor had not reached out to them.

Sen. Steven Oroho said that Murphy had called him to lobby for his vote against Sweeney’s budget, but he sought to downplay the governor’s actions, saying that he was doing as he should.

After a joint press conference with Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, U.S. Senate Candidate Bob Hugin and State Republican Chair Doug Steinhardt, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean acknowledged that Murphy could be contacting members of his caucus.

Everybody’s talking to everybody, he said.

According to members of his caucus, he brought Murphy’s calls to his members up a closed-door caucus preceding the start of the Senate’s session.

For now, the Senate is in recess while Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin meet with Murphy to try to hash out their budget differences. The 3 p.m. meeting and a meeting earlier this morning were first reported by NJ.com and confirmed by the New jersey Globe.

Whether or not any compromise comes out of that meeting remains to be seen, but it’s a sign that Democrats are taking steps to avoid an embarrassing government shutdown now little more than a week on the horizon.

If they don’t reach a compromise, Sweeney’s team thinks they still have the votes to pass it, but the New Jersey Globe’s rough count indicates they’d have trouble getting it through with a veto-proof majority.

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