With a little help from their friends

Gov. Christopher Christie and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez have one thing very much in common. They both have generous friends.
Christie’s friend is the owner of the Dallas Cowboys – who generously invited the governor to football games. It must be mere coincidence that the contract for the observation deck of the new Freedom Tower (expected to generate $35,000 an hour in tourist trade) happened to go to the governor’s friend. And it must be a coincidence that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey – which Christie partly controls – was the body that awarded the contract.
Menendez, meanwhile, received trips to the Caribbean as a result of his friendship with a Florida doctor. This friendship also apparently inspired Menendez to intervene on the doctor’s behalf in a dispute with the federal government over Medicaid issues (among other tokens of friendship Menendez allegedly bestowed).
The big difference is that Menendez’ friendship resulted in an indictment by the U.S. Justice Department, while Christie appears to have only public backlash for what appears to be a possible conflict of interest.
Christie may face some legal issues when the indictments are unveiled in relation to the Bridgegate scandal and the alleged political pressure brought against Hudson County political people to shepherd along a development represented by another Christie friend.
Most observers, however, believe Christie will go unscathed by the scandals.
The only real satisfaction many anti-Christie people may get is in the knowledge that Christie will not likely become the Republican candidate for president in 2016.
The Menendez indictment may well go away if Hillary Clinton is elected president in 2016 – since some believe the indictment was politically orchestrated by the Obama administration. Menendez has been a vocal opponent of several moves by Obama in regards to normalizing relations with Cuba and nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Hudson for Hillary?

In 2008, when Hillary Clinton last ran for president, Hudson County was divided. Then-Mayor Jerriamiah Healy supported Barrack Obama, while others among the county leadership went for Clinton.
Clinton is likely to get the nod from nearly all Democrats this year as she launches what appears to be a candidacy that will get only token opposition from other Democrats.
This is not because she is a popular figure, but because Democrats have too much to lose, and need to hold onto the presidency after having lost both houses of Congress.
While Republicans are expected to attack Clinton on a number of issues, from her use of a non-governmental email system to her handling of Middle East affairs as secretary of state, the Clinton campaign has already put the press and fellow Democrats on notice that certain subjects — such as her aggressive political posture — are taboo and will be seen as sexist attacks if they are raised against her.
Clinton would be the first woman president in American history, a distinction that guarantees her an instant legacy before she even serves one day in office.
A Clinton nomination appears disturbing partly because her potential opponent could be Jeb Bush, giving the strong impression of the American presidency is little more than a family dynasty. There has been a Clinton or a Bush in the White House either as president, vice president or secretary of state every year except four since 1981.
Democrats in Hudson County who dislike Clinton won’t likely vote Republican in the November 2016 general election; they’ll simply stay home.

A third ticket in West New York

With all the hoopla over the West New York Town Hall battle between a ticket led by Mayor Felix Roque and an opposing ticket let by Commissioner Count Wiley, a third credible ticket has emerged in the race that includes Anthony M. DeFino, Michael Corso, Gabriella Reynosos, Armando Galis-Menendez and Maria Melendez.
Running on Line E of the ballot, the ticket brings back the still-powerful DeFino name into focus and will attract voters who may not be completely happy with the inside fighting of the Wiley-Roque feud.
Running as the “Hope for the Future” ticket, the group will be taking part in a candidates’ forum on April 30 that has been organized by West New York Concerned Citizens and moderated by The League of Women Voters coming into West New York.
“That’s a huge story,” said the group’s founder, West New York resident Joshua Breakstone. “Hudson County has always been kind of corrupt and closed… Maybe we can open up things all over Hudson County.”
The forum is set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30, at The Riviera Towers Community Room at 6040 Kennedy Boulevard East.
Jonathon Breakstone said the forum represents the most credible candidates in this election.
Other candidates who will attend include The “Future is Now” slate of Juan Espinal and Jeanne Stefonetti; the “West New York United” slate of Count Wiley, Carlos Betancourt, Myrli Sanchez, Thomas Leung and Hector Hernandez; and the “Our Town is Not for Sale” slate of Patrick Cullen Jr.
Roque’s slate said they had a scheduling conflict, but were seeking to attend as well.
As of press time, independent candidate Jose Rosario had not yet confirmed.

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

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