Trump money up for grabs?

Some local Republicans running in non-partisan races such as Board of Education may have been offered funding allegedly coming from the coffers of the Donald Trump presidential campaign.

At least one candidate said he’s been offered money supposedly from Trump’s coffers if, in the course of his board run, he mentioned Trump.

The candidate said he refused because he wasn’t certain that it would be legal to accept money generated out of a partisan race to use in a non-partisan race, and it seemed pointless to take the chance.

If true, this offering may be a sign that the Trump campaign may yet have a chance to win New Jersey – although most political observers believe the state will go to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in a landslide.

Some observers in North Hudson see a bright future for Trump’s campaign even in New Jersey, quoting the old Republican mantra from the 1970s about “a silent majority,” and banking on the rage that many feel over the last eight years of political gridlock in Washington.

Whether this has become the most negative presidential campaign in American history is hard to tell. Both candidates have negative qualities the other side can exploit.  The campaign strongly resembles the Democratic presidential primary, which pitted populist candidate Bernie Sanders against a seasoned political campaigner in Clinton.

Clinton has played her political campaign like a brick layer, building her base early and piling on support. Both Sanders and Trump were relying largely on a wave of outrage against the system. For Trump, this most likely will not be enough to overcome the well-run campaign strategy Clinton is employing.

But the Clinton campaign does seem a bit nervous about disaffected Sanders supporters, who in a close election in critical states could steal just enough votes from Clinton to give Trump the edge – unlikely as this is.

Some political observers compare Clinton to Lyndon Johnson, who in his 1964 campaign stressed the Republican candidate Barry Goldwater’s extremism. This is an apt comparison, since in many ways Clinton strongly resembles Johnson in her aggressive foreign policy, with a somewhat moderate social agenda at home.

Both sides claim that control of the U.S. Supreme Court is at stake. The Clinton campaign appears to rely on fear of a conservative takeover of the court to lure Sanders people back into the mainstream Democrat fold, claiming that Obamacare, abortion, and gay rights are all at risk. This is somewhat a disingenuous argument, since it was a conservative court that ruled to support those rights in recent years.

The Republicans also fear that a Clinton victory will allow the Democrats to stack the court with liberal judges – even suggesting that President Barack Obama might be named to the high court.  This is also a somewhat disingenuous argument; first, Democrats would have to have control of the U.S. Senate; and second, Clinton is not as liberal as the GOP portrays her.

Christie on the hot seat?

What did he know, and when did he know it?

These are the standard questions about politicians that have persisted across four decades since President Richard Nixon was under scrutiny for issues surrounding the Watergate scandal.

While some believe Nixon would have been better off giving up his underlings rather than proceeding with one of the biggest cover-ups in American history, in reality, Nixon, as it turned out, was doomed no matter what he did.

This may also be true of Gov. Christopher Christie if the anticipated testimony from his former aides Bridget Ann Kelly and Bill Baroni is accurate. Kelly, deputy chief of staff to Christie, and Baroni, deputy chairman of the Port Authority, have been charged with creating a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge for political retribution against the Fort Lee mayor who refused to endorse Christie’s reelection for governor in 2013.

Whereas Nixon tried to protect his people to assure their silence about a much larger pattern of misbehavior directed by The White House, Christie appears to have made the mistake of letting his underlings take the heat for what is commonly called Bridgegate.

Christie may have misread history and convinced himself Nixon’s big mistake was trying to protect those who were involved in Watergate. But in some ways, Christie – if he actually knew what his underlings were doing – made an even bigger blunder than Nixon ever made.

Had Christie taken responsibility immediately for ordering the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge, many other controversies about other questionable practices involving his close associates on the Port Authority may not have come to light. As with Watergate, trying to contain the damage has ironically led to much more serious revelations, and ultimately, could bring down Christie as Watergate ultimately brought down Nixon. Kelly and Baroni, left out in the cold, have no option but to testify against Christie.

Fulop’s steep climb to governor

Even with the support of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop can’t guarantee he will have total support from Newark in his supposed effort to become the Democratic candidate for governor next year. Fulop insiders claim the strategy is to carry the three largest cities in northern New Jersey, Newark, Paterson, and Jersey City, and control Bergen, Passaic, and Hudson counties for slightly less than a quarter of the state’s Democratic voters.

But Newark is a battleground where powerful political operatives are aligned with Fulop’s rivals, State Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Phil Murphy. Bergen County is equally split, sources say, and even in Hudson County where Fulop should have his strongest support, powerful leaders such as state Senator Sandra Cunningham and state Senator and Union City Mayor Brian Stack may be leaning toward other candidates.

For many, caught in the middle of a political civil war between Sweeney (and thus political broker George Norcross) and the Fulop contingent that includes state Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, Murphy appears to be gaining favor as a compromise candidate.

Some believe that if Fulop manages to move the municipal election from May to November, that will give him an opportunity to run for reelection in November if he loses the gubernatorial nomination, pushing aside potential successors Freeholder Bill O’Dea, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, and a few others. Some believe these people will put aside their personal political ambitions to accommodate Fulop – in politics, a questionable assumption at best.

The pressure being applied to Rep. Albio Sires to not seek reelection in the 8th Congressional District suggests that a move may be afoot to give Fulop that seat. Some have even suggested Fulop could be a possible candidate for U.S. Senate if Senator Robert Menendez’s legal issues require him to resign.

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