NJ DEMOCRATS FACE OFF

December 05, 2019 at 4:30 am

We’ll tell you about the drama at the center of New Jersey’s political feud between Governor Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney.

Aired on December 4, 2019. 

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>> GOOD EVENING.
WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."
I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.
THE TWO MOST POWERFUL DEMOCRATS
IN NEW JERSEY JUST CAN'T SEEM TO
GET ALONG, GOVERNOR MURPHY AND
SENATE PRESIDENT STEVE SWEENEY
HAVE BEEN AT ODDS SINCE LAST
YEAR AND IT HAS BEEN BOTH NASTY
AND PERSONAL.
THE TWO MEN STEAM GENUINELY LIKE
EACH OTHER AND ACCORDING TO
CRITICS, THEIR CLASH THAT TIED
UP MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF STATE
MONEY AND TIED UP SEVERAL
DOLLARS OF KEY INITIATIVES.
TO BREAK IT DOWN FOR US, OUR
AFFAIRS EDITOR, STEVE ADUBATO.
WELCOME.
THIS SITUATION IS NOT
UNPRECEDENTED IN NEW JERSEY.
IN FACT, STEVE SWEENEY DIDN'T
GET ALONG ALL THAT WELL WITH THE
LAST DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR.
>> YES.
>> THE LAST DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR,
JON CORZINE.
WHAT'S THE REASON FOR THIS
PARTICULAR FEUD?
>> THEY DON'T LIKE EACH OTHER
FOLLOWLY.
YOU HAVE THE GOVERNOR THE MORE
LIBERAL AND STEVE SWEENEY A
MODERATE LEANING CONSERVATIVE.
BOTTOM LINE IS THERE IS AN
IDEOLOGICAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
THE TWO AND PERSONAL DIFFERENCE.
ANOTHER THING, STEVE SWEENEY
WANTED TO BE GOVERNOR.
LET'S NOT KID OURSELVES.
I DON'T WANT TO GET INSIDE NEW
JERSEY BASEBALL IN TERMS OF
POLITICS.
A COUPLE YEARS AGO WHEN PHIL
MURPHY WASN'T IN THIS PICTURE,
STEVE SWEENEY WAS THE LEADING
CANDIDATE TO RUN FOR THE
DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
SO COMING IN WITH, I HAVE THE
MONEY AND STEVE BACKS UP, AND
THERE'S JEALOUSY AND ENVY AND
PERSONAL STUFF.
THEY DISAGREE ON A RANGE OF
IMPORTANT POLICY ISSUES.
THEY SEE THE WORLD VERY
DIFFERENTLY EVEN THOUGH THERE'S
A D AFTER EACH OTHER'S NAMES.
THAT DOESN'T MEAN THEY'RE LIKING
EACH OTHER.
>> LET'S TALK ABOUT THE ISSUES.
BEFORE, WHAT ABOUT SECTIONAL
DIFFERENCE.
SWEENEY COMES FROM THE SOUTH AND
MURPHY FROM THE NORTH.
THEY'RE DIFFERENT PLACE
OPINIONS.
>> PEOPLE SOMETIMES THINK NEW
JERSEY IS A PROVINCIAL STATE IN
SOME WAYS.
WHILE WE'RE BLUE, WE'RE NOT BLUE
ACROSS THE BOARD, YES, IN THE
NORTH CENTRAL PART OF THE STATE
MORE DEMOCRATIC.
YOU GO TO THE SOUTH, YOU HAVE
OLD BLUE DOG DEMOCRATS IN THE
SOUTH THEY USED TO TALK ABOUT,
SWEENEY AND A LOT OF THOSE
DEMOCRATS, THEY'RE NOT DEMOCRATS
IN THE WAY THOSE IN THE NORTH
AND JERSEY CITY ARE.
THEY LEAN TO THE RIGHT A LITTLE
BIT AND PHIL MURPHY DOESN'T
REALLY RELATE TO THEM IN THIS
SAME WAY BECAUSE THEY'RE IN A
DIFFERENT PLACE IDEOLOGICALLY.
>> WHAT ARE SOME OF THE ISSUES
THEY FOUGHT OVER THE LAST YEAR
AND A HALF AND NOW?
>> ONE, MEDICAL MARIJUANA --
EXCUSE ME, LEGALIZING MARIJUANA.
WHILE THEY BOTH SAY THEY'RE ON
THE SAME PLACE ON THIS ISSUE, IT
HASN'T GONE ANYWHERE.
WHAT'S UP WITH THAT?
YES, IT'S TOUGH TO GET THE VOTES
IN THE SENATE FOR IT.
IF THE SENATE AND THE GOVERNOR
WERE FOR IT, IT WOULD HAPPEN.
AND THE SECOND, MILLIONAIRE'S
TAXES.
WE NEED TO RAISE TAXES ON
MILLIONAIRES.
STEVE SWEENEY AT ONE TIME HAD
THE POSITION, SAID, I USED TO
THINK THAT UNTIL DONALD TRUMP
AND THE REPUBLICANS CHANGED THE
LAW WHERE YOU CAN ONLY WRITE OFF
YOUR STATE AND PROPERTY TAX IN
NEW JERSEY.
I CAN'T SUPPORT A MILLIONAIRE'S
TAX.
GOVERNOR MURPHY WILL CALL FOR IT
AGAIN.
SWEENEY WILL FIGHT HIM.
THEY FIGHT ON TAXES AND THE
PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS.
>> SWEENEY WAS RECENTLY ON YOUR
SHOW TO TALK ABOUT WHAT?
>> WE HAD STEVE SWEENEY ON FOR A
LOT OF THINGS.
THE CLIPPER ABOUT THE SHOW GOES
TO THIS.
THERE'S ABOUT $350 MILLION OF
STATE MONEY IN THE BUDGET THAT
IS FOR CANCER TREATMENT, FOR
HIGHER EDUCATION, A WHOLE RANGE
OF THINGS.
THAT MONEY IS HELD UP BECAUSE
GOVERNOR MURPHY SAYS, I WILL NOT
FUND IT, EVEN THOUGH STEVE
SWEENEY SAYS HE'S IN FAVOR OF IT
BUT DOING THIS FOR PERSONAL
REASONS.
THIS CLIP WE'RE ABOUT TO SEE IS
STEVE SWEENEY, THE SENATE
PRESIDENT SAYING WHY HE BELIEVES
IT IS PERSONAL.
>> THIS GETS PERSONAL TO ME AND
I LOST MY MOTHER AND BROTHER TO
CANCER.
WHY WOULD YOU DENY PEOPLE IN
SOUTHERN NEW JERSEY TO DEAL WITH
CANCER TREATMENT.
IT'S UNFAIR.
I WENT AFTER CHRIS CHRISTIE WHEN
HE CUT A BUDGET AND CALLED HIM A
WHOLE BUNCH OF NAMES.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY WHEN
PHIL MURPHY SAYS I SUPPORT THESE
THINGS, THEN FUND THEM.
>> YOU MENTIONED CHRIS CHRISTIE.
HE HAS GOTTEN INTO THIS BATTLE.
WHAT'S HE SAYING?
>> I THOUGHT HE WAS RUNNING INTO
A NEW CIVILITY IN POLITICS.
YOU AND I CAN ATTEST TO THAT
HAVING DONE MANY INTERVIEWS WITH
HIM, WASN'T UNCIVIL.
HOWEVER, CHRIS CHRISTIE LIKES
SWEENEY AND LIKE EACH OTHER AND
REALLY LIKE GIVING PHIL MURPHY A
HARD TIME.
CHRIS CHRISTIE AFTER THE
INAUGURAL EVENT AT THE LAW
SCHOOL, WHO DO YOU THINK HE
TRASHED FOR HALF AN HOUR?
PHIL MURPHY.
HE SAID SOMETHING LIKE THIS.
HE'S AN ACTOR AND HE LIKES TO
DANCE -- I DON'T KNOW WHAT HE
SAID -- HE THINKS THIS IS
THEATER AND THIS IS REAL LIFE.
HE TRASHED HIM.
>> BECAUSE HE WANTED TO BE AN
ACTOR IN REAL LIFE.
>> NOT CHRISTIE, MURPHY.
>> I'M JOKING.
>> I THINK SWEENEY AND GOVERNOR
CHRISTIE AND THE HEAD OF THE
DEMOCRATIC PARTY IN A LOT OF
WAYS, NORCROSS, GEORGE NORCROSS,
NOT AN ELECTED OFFICIAL, THEY'RE
TOGETHER, AND TRUTHFULLY, THEY
WANT TO MAKE PHIL MURPHY'S LIFE
MISERABLE.
I BELIEVE ULTIMATELY THEY'RE
HEADED FOR A DEMOCRATIC CIVIL
WAR IN A COUPLE YEARS OVER THAT
GOVERNORSHIP.
>> DO YOU THINK SWEENEY WILL
ENTER A PRIMARY AGAINST MURPHY?
>> YOU AND I TALKED A COUPLE
YEARS BACK, I WASN'T SO SURE.
I'M CONVINCED STEVE SWEENEY
TALKING ABOUT GOVERNOR MURPHY
NOT FUNDING TRANSIT ENOUGH,
DOESN'T HAVE THE RIGHT POSITION
ON TAXES.
NOT TOUGH ENOUGH ON PUBLIC
UNIONS, AND THEY HAVE TO GIVE
BACK ON THE RETIREMENT.
I THINK IT WILL BE A BATTLE
BETWEEN SWEENEY AND MURPHY FOR
THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION.
I'M CONVINCED OF THAT ANY TIME
NOW.
>> YOU DON'T THINK OF A DAYTANT
ANY TIME?
>> PEOPLE TALK ABOUT WASHINGTON
AND IT IS, DEMOCRATS AND
REPUBLICANS.
HERE, THESE DEMOCRATS, THEY'RE
NOT REALLY IN THE SAME PARTY.
THEY MAY AGAIN HAVE A D AFTER
THEIR NAME AND DON'T BELIEVE IN
THE SAME THINGS, I'M REPEATING
MYSELF, THEY DON'T LIKE EACH
OTHER.
I THINK THEY'D RATHER FIGHT IN
MY OPINION, THAN FIND A WAY TO
COMPROMISE AND WORK TOGETHER ON
BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE IN THIS
STATE.
THEY'RE JUST IN FIGHT MODE.
>> THIS FEUD, HOW IS IT COSTING
THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY?
>> THINK ABOUT THIS.
YOU HAVE GOVERNOR, THE MOST
POWERFUL GOVERNOR IN THE NATION
BASED ON THE 1947 CONSTITUTION,
HE OR SHE HAS LINE-ITEM VETO
POWER.
A SENATE PRESIDENT GOING ON
ALMOST A DECADE BEING THE SENATE
PRESIDENT.
TOGETHER, THEY CAN MOVE
LEGALIZING MARIJUANA AND
CHANGING FISCAL POLICIES IN THE
STATE AND AGREE ON FUNDING FOR
BUSES AND TRANSIT.
>> THE PENSION FUND.
>> SOMETHING WAS DONE ABOUT THE
PENSION FUND BETWEEN SWEENEY AND
MURPHY.
SWEENEY ARGUES NOT ENOUGH,
UNIONS ARE FIGHTING HIM ON THAT
AND MURPHY SAYING THEY HAVE
GIVEN ENOUGH.
PART BECAUSE THE PUBLIC EMPLOYEE
UNIONS ARE SO SUPPORTIVE OF
MURPHY AND DESPISE SWEENEY.
IT'S A DAYTHANTE, IS THAT THE
WORD.
THAT'S NOT THE WAORD I'M THINKIG
OF.

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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