JERSEY BRAWLS & BUDGETS

A budget brawl in the Garden State adds tension to a widening rift in New Jersey’s State House, putting Gov. Phil Murphy at odds with his own party. Steve Adubato has the details.

Aired on October 10, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

A BUDGET BRAWL OVER THE SUMMER IN NEW JERSEY HAS LED TO A DEEPENING DIVIDE IN THE STATE HOUSE BETWEEN THE ROOKIE DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR PHIL MURPHY AND THE VETERAN DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT OF THE STATE SENATE, STEVE SWEENEY.

ALTHOUGH A GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN WAS BARELY AVOIDED THANKS TO A LAST-MINUTE DEAL, THE BATTLE FURTHER FRACTURED THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MURPHY AND MEMBERS OF HIS OWN PARTY.

LESS THAN A YEAR AFTER THE FORMER WALL STREET MILLIONAIRE WAS SWORN INTO OFFICE.

TOUGH STUFF, BUT CERTAINLY NOT THE FIRST TIME SERIOUS TENSIONS HAVE EMERGED BETWEEN A NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR AND LEADERS OF HIS OWN PARTY IN THE LEGISLATURE.

AND JOINING US NOW TO PUT IT ALL IN PERSPECTIVE IS THE ANCHOR OF THE STATE OF AFFAIRS AND 'METROFOCUS' CONTRIBUTOR, STEVE ADUBATO.

WELCOME BACK.

MY PLEASURE, RALPH.

STEVE, HOW DO THE HOSTILITIES BETWEEN SWEENEY AND MURPHY EVOLVE?

THEY DON'T LIKE TO SAY THIS PUBLICLY, BUT MY POINT OF VIEW, SOME OF 24S PERSONAL.

STEVE SWEENEY IS A VERY POWERFUL PRESIDENT OF THE STATE SENATE, ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL IN THE HISTORY OF THE STATE SINCE THE 1947 CONSTITUTION.

HE WANTED TO BE GOVERNOR.

HE WAS PREPARED TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR.

HAD IT LINED UP IN SOME PEOPLE'S MINDS.

PHIL MURPHY COMES N NOT ORIGINALLY FROM NEW JERSEY.

PUTS UP A LOT OF MONEY AND SAYS, I WILL FUND MY OWN CAMPAIGN.

MANY DEMOCRATIC PARTY OFFICIALS SAID, SWEENEY, WE KNOW YOU'VE BEEN OUT THERE A LONG TIME IN THE LEGISLATE UFR, A JERSEY GUY, IF YOU WILL.

MURPHY IS GOING TO FUND THE CAMPAIGN.

WE DON'T HAVE TO RAISE MONEY FOR HIM.

I THINK IT REALLY BOTHERED STEVE SWEENEY PERSONALLY AND HE'S TRYING TO SHOW HIS STRENGTH RIGHT NOW.

THIS HOSTILITY AS I SAID IN THE INTRODUCTION BETWEEN THE GOVERNOR AND LEADERS OF HIS OWN PARTY IN THE LEGISLATURE, NOTHING NEW.

IT'S A HISTORY EVENT.

WHAT'S IRONIC ABOUT THIS IS THAT JOHN CORZINE, THE LAST DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR WHO HAPPENED TO BE FROM GOLD UP --

FAMILIAR FROM WALL STREET, YEAH.

DIDN'T UNDERSTAND JERSEY VERY WELL IN MY OPINION.

YOU AND I INTERVIEWED HIM MANY TIMES ON OUR PREVIOUS SHOW.

NICE GUY, BUT DIDN'T UNDERSTAND RETAIL POLITICS IN NERZ I.

DIDN'T RELAEL TO MEMBERS OF THE POLITICS IN JERSEY.

I SEE SOME OF THE PATTERNS.

I THINK MURPHY IS ENGAGING AND PERSONABLE.

HE HAD A HARD TIME WITH THE DEMOCRATS IN THE LEGISLATURE.

THEY DIDN'T CONNECT WITH EACH OTHER.

IT'S RETAIL POLITICS.

IF YOU DON'T CONNECT WITH MEMBERS OF THE LEGISLATURE IN YOUR OWN PARTY ON A AMERICANAL LEVEL, BARACK OBAMA START TODAY LEARN THAT ABOUT DEMOCRATS AS WELL.

THE FACT IS THE DEMOCRATS WHO ARE NOT FROM JERSEY WHO DON'T COME FROM THE LEGISLATURE, WHO DON'T UNDERSTAND JERSEY VERY WELL, DON'T DO THAT WELL WITH THEIR OWN PARTY.

HE'S FROM BOSTON, RIGHT?

HE'S A BOSTON MILLIONAIRE.

YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT MURPHY.

YEAH.

HE'S A BOSTON MILLIONAIRE, RIGHT?

NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

BUT WE'RE HERE IN NEW YORK CITY.

WE HAD A BOSTON MILLIONAIRE WHO BECAME A VERY SUCCESSFUL MAYOR.

BLOOMBERG, RIGHT?

WHAT DID HE DO THAT MURPHY HAS NOT DONE?

I DEFER TO YOU WHEN IT COMES TO NEW YORK POLITICS.

HE WASN'T A RETAIL GUY EITHER.

I TELL YOU THIS, BEING GOVERNOR IS NOT THE SAME AS BEING MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY.

I DON'T KNOW HOW POWERFUL THE CITY COUNCIL IS, BUT IN THE STATE LEGISLATURE, IT'S SO INTERESTING.

ONE OF THE GOVERNORS YOU AND I ARE GOING TO TALK ABOUT IF WE HAVE A MINUTE IS TOM KAINE.

TOM KAINE'S PIECE OF ADVICE TO CHRIS CHRISTIE, A REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR IN THE '80s.

HE WAS ALSO THE FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE WHEN THE REPUBLICANS DIDN'T CONTROL THE MAJORITY, THE DEMOCRATS DID.

THINK ABOUT THAT.

HE TOLD CHRIS CHRISTIE WHEN CHRISTY BECAME GOVERNOR, HE ASKED HIM, CHRIS, WHO IS YOUR BEST FRIEND?

CHRIS CHRISTIE SAID, MY WIFE MARY PAT.

HE GOES, NOT FOR THE NEXT FOUR OR EIGHT YEARS.

YOUR BEST FRIEND IS STEVE SWEENEY, THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE.

BECAUSE IF YOU DON'T HAVE THE BEST RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM, EVEN THOUGH HE'S A DEMOCRAT, CHRISTY WAS REPUBLICAN, YOU WON'T GET ANYTHING DONE.

HE DID AT LEAST FOR THE FIRST TERM, UNTIL BRIDGE GATE ANYWAY.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MURPHY AND SWEENEY LIKELY TO GET BETTER, GOOD NEWS?

YOU AND I TALK ABOUT POLITICS.

WE AND THE FOLKS AT 'METROFOCUS' WHO WATCH IT, ARE ALSO INTERESTED IN THE POLICY.

IF THE DEMOCRATS, THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY CRAIG COUGH LYNN -- NEW GUY THERE --

WHAT'S HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH MURPHY?

IT'S OKAY.

IT'S NOT THE SAME AS SWEENEY'S.

HERE'S MY POINT.

IF THE TWO MEMBERS OF THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY DOESN'T GET ALONG WITH THE GOVERNOR, GOVERNOR DOESN'T GET ALONG WITH THEM, THAT'S NOT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY INSIDE BASEBALL.

THAT STOPS GOVERNMENT.

THAT STOPS POLICY FROM MOVING FORWARD.

THE PEOPLE OF NEW JERSEY NEED THE LEADERS OF THE LEGISLATURE AND THE GOEFRP TO GET ALONG FOR THE STATE TO WORK WELL.

YOU HAVE TRANSIT ISSUES.

YOU HAVE INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUES.

YOU HAVE ENVIRONMENTAL EISSUES, ENERGY ISSUES.

IT'S NOT WHAT THEY WANT TO RAISE TAXES.

THEY HAVE TO GET IT TOGETHER.

IN MY OPINION PHIL MURPHY HAS TO SIT DOWN AND ASK HIMSELF HOW MUCH DO I WANT TO UNDERSTAND THESE GUYS AND INTERACT WITH THEM ON A PERSONAL LEVEL?

THEY HAVE TO UNDERSTAND MUR 23I COMES FROM A DIFFERENT BACKGROUND.

IF THEY DON'T DO THAT, THERE IS GOING TO BE A STALEMATE FOR A LONG TIME.

THAT'S NOT GOOD NEWS FOR NEW JERSEY.

WHAT'S YOUR BEST GUESS?

I'M HOPEFUL.

I LIKE TO BE AN OPTIMIST.

I'M CATHOLIC AND I'LL SAY A PRAYER.

STEVE, THANKS SO MUCH.

THANK YOU, RALPH.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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