Not really a debate

What happened in Somerset County today was no debate.

Rather, the four gubernatorial candidates simply had about 5 minutes to state their cases.  It was a good program. but it was a shame there was no opportunity for any give and take, or even questions from the audience.

Rick Merkt drew the biggest cheer when he vowed to end COAH — the Coalition on Affordable Housing — by “driving a stake through its heart.” There’s some rhetorical flourish, for you.

The morning marked one of the first times the acclaimed frontrunner for the nomination, Chris Christie, spoke about his gubernatorial bid. He said that the public should not be fooled into thinking that the state can not cut spending. And he faulted Gov. Jon Corzine for putting too much blame on local towns for high property taxes.

That was a fair point, but no one should let local towns and school districts off the hook. After all, they are the ones who raise and spend property taxes, not the state.

Debate time ..

It’s still Janaury, but the first forum for Republican gubernatorial candidates is tomorrow: at the Fox Hollow Country Club in Branchburg.

The forum,which is sponsored by the Somerset Federation of Republcan Women, is not for late-sleepers. It starts at 8:30 a.m.

How will it all play out …

in Roxbury?

This week saw two fascinating stories: the school board giving the teachers nearly a 20 percent raise over four years and also, hiring two administrators to replace one at an added cost of more than $100,000.

Maureen Castriotta was the only board member to oppose the contract settlement and the hire. She is up for reelection this year. If she runs again,it will be interesting to see if she picks up people to run with her.

Seems to me that standing up against excessive spending is a good campaign plank.

Also, you note that the superintendent and the board president did not comment on the two to replace one story. You have to wonder, why are some officials in the stone age when it comes to communication.  Do they not understand its importance.

I liked Jim Bunning as a pitcher, but as a

senator, it’s a different story.

Bunning, who is from Kentucky, tried to cut money for New Jersey’s Family Care program, a health insurance program for children. He seemed unaware of the fact that income eligibility levels are high in N.J. because the cost of living is high.

Bunning should know that. We call a balk on him!

Jumping off the train

Three of the four Republican gubernatorial candidates are skipping today’s annual Chamber of Commerce train trip to Washington. They are Chris Christie, Rick Merkt and Steve Lonegan. All say, in various ways, that they think the trip perpetuates politics as its worst by fostering pay-to-play.

OK, but here’s the other side. The chamber and its guests surely skew Republican. So by not going, the three GOP hopefuls are bypassing a chance to chat with a lot of potential supporters and donors.

The first debate

Forum number one in the Republican gubernatorial primary race takes place Saturday morning.

It’s sponsored by the Somerset County Federation of Republican Women and will take place at the Fox Hollow Golf Club, 50 Fox Chase Run in Branchburg. Doors open at 8 am and $30 includes breakfast. 

Hope they serve Bloody Marys.  Republicans always sound more lucid when I’ve got some booze in me. (That’s a joke.)

Bipartisanship only goes so far

WASHINGTON – The New Jersey congressional delegation split along partisan lines as the House approved an $819 billion economic stimulus bill 244-188 without a single Republican voting yes.

All eight Garden State Democrats voted for it and all five Republicans voted no.

Democrats said the bill would help prevent further economic bleeding but Republicans argued the measure wouldn’t revive the economy.

President Barack Obama has lobbied hard for the bill and met with congressional Republicans.

Rep. Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, R-Harding, said Tuesday that Obama made a very good impression. Guess it wasn’t good enough.