Tuesday, January 12, 2010

NJ BI-PARTISANSHIP OFF TO A ROCKY START

Can bi-partisanship really be achieved in the New Jersey State legislature? It depends upon what time it is. At least that was the case yesterday.

At a 10:30am press conference in the State House in Trenton yesterday (1/12/10), Democrats Sheila Oliver and Joe Cryan, the new Assembly Speaker and Majority Leader respectively were joined by Assembly Republican Leader Alex DeCroce and Assembly Republican Conference Leader Jon Bramnick. All four lawmakers called for an end to partisan politics. Oliver said, “I do not believe in this stark, combative, adversarial, partisanship that has gripped so much of our public debate in recent years."

At noon, Democrats Steve Sweeney and Barbara Buono were sworn in as the new Senate President and Majority Leader respectievly. The pair also spoke of working with Republicans. State Senator Tom Kean Jr., the GOP Leader in the Upper House agreed with Sweeney and Buono and vowed to reach across the political aisle.

Just before 3pm, outgoing Governor Jon Corzine began his final State of the State Address in the Assembly chamber. During his last major speech, Corzine wished Republican Governor-elect Chris Christie good luck and he urged the Democrat-controlled legislature to work with the incoming GOP cheif executive.

The new Kumbaya era started to fall apart at around 3:45pm shortly after Corzine left the chamber. Oliver called for a vote on a new State Auditor. Republicans claimed they had no clue this was going to happen and immediately called for the session to end without a vote. Confusion ensued. Democrats and Republcians huddled in the chamber trying to figure out what to do next. Without officially adjourning the session, Oliver retired to her new office with upper level staffers.

On the floor of the Assembly chamber some were accusing Oliver of outright incompetence. Others were referring to her actions as a "Freshman Flub."

Republicans remained in the chamber criticizing Democrats for blindsiding them. Democrats were claiming Republicans have already signed off on the new Auditor and a vote should be no big deal. Finally Oliver came back to the Chamber and hurriedly called members back into the special joint session that technically had not yet ended. It happned so quickly I was forced to sit in the seat that former Governor Brendan Bryne sat in to watch Corzine's State of the State Address.

All parties agreed to take up the Auditor vote at a future date.

The rebirth of bi-partisanship happened between 6pm and 7pm when I received several calls from high-level Democrats and Republicans alike saying the snafu was nothing major and the two parties are committed to working with one another. Stay tuned.

4 comments:

Kerri Danskin said...

Thanks for the from-the-floor descriptions, Kevin. It's nice for those of us who used to work there and can imagine the chaos, but no longer see it in person.

Millennium Radio New Jersey said...

You're very welcome Kerri. I hope all is well in your world.

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