NJAFED Article February - 2017 By Paul Bent

NJAFED Article

February - 2017

By Paul Bent


Legislation that would bring some much needed common sense to the issue of prevailing wage thresholds has gotten some legislative attention, but not enough.  S-728 (Cruz-Perez) and A-1118 (Oliver) would create an easy to understand system for when to apply prevailing wage.  It’s easy, if the project needs to go out for bid then its prevailing wage.  If it doesn’t need to go out to bid then its not.  That simple.


Counties would be able to jump from the current threshold of $2,000 to $17,500.  Schools would jump from $2,000 to $29,000 and Municipalities would go from $15,444 to $17,500.  If any of the above have a Qualified Purchasing Agent then they could go to $40,000.


These are certainly more manageable numbers to deal with while, at the same time, not being too high as to defeat the purpose behind prevailing wage.


Many groups and organizations support this common sense approach and NJAFED is one of them.  As this moves ahead please be prepared to do your part.  When needed, members are going to be asked to contact legislators to support this legislation.  While we will certainly provide you with information, it is important that each member follows through.  There is strength in numbers and we must be ready to do our part.  2017 will be our year to succeed with this.


Speaking of 2017, please note that it will be an extremely active year for New Jersey politics.  The Governor is up for election as is all 40 seats in the State Senate and all 80 seats in the State Assembly.


With Chris Christie unable to run for re-election because of term limits, it is a hotly contested Governor’s Race.


 Democratic Primary:


 •  Phil Murphy, former Ambassador to Germany in the Obama administration as well as a former Goldman Sachs executive, he has won several county lines and is heavily favored to win the primary and even the general election.


  John Wisniewski, a current member of the General Assembly and former State Democratic Chair, he was the state chair for Bernie Sanders campaign in New Jersey.  While he has an upward climb, he is considered by some to be the single biggest competitor to Murphy.


  Ray Lesniak, a current member of the State Senate and former State Democratic Chair, is also running.  He has run previously but without success.  Many see his current campaign as a means to highlight issues important to him while making an honorable retirement from the State Senate.


 • There are seven other declared candidates for the Democratic Primary who come from various advocacy, business or municipal government backgrounds.  None are expected to be competitive at this time.


Republican Primary:


• Kim Guadagno, current Lieutenant Governor and former Sherriff for Monmouth County, she is considered the leading candidate in the Republican Primary.


• Jack Ciattarelli, a current member of the General Assembly, he is the owner and publisher of Galen Publishing (medical publishing).  He is considered the single biggest threat to Lt. Governor Guadagno.


• There are two other declared candidates neither of which are expected to be competitive at this time.


 • Special Note:  One unknown in the Republican Primary is actor / comedian Joe Piscopo.  While he has not declared, he has been seen meeting with Governor Christie and making the rounds at various NJ events.  Because of his name recognition, and the fact that he is an “outsider”, he would likely clear the field.


Election Handicapping: 


At this point, the popular feeling is that this election (both primary and general) are Phil Murphy’s to lose.  He has strong party support and a healthy war chest.  Furthermore, he is riding on a wave of anti-republican sentiment with our current Governor’s favorability at record lows (less than 20 percent).


Early polling in a hypothetical match-up between Guadagno and Murphy has Murphy with a double digit lead.


Despite all of this, however, none of the candidates have much in the way of name recognition.  Even with his strong organization and money, Phil Murphy only got about 17% of the vote in a January pole with over 50% indicating undecided.  Should Joe Piscopo run, and should he be able to distance himself from Christie and even Trump, he could run a very competitive race against Murphy.


Legislative Elections:


While several State Senator’s have announced plans to retire at the end of this term, there are very few competitive districts in New Jersey.  It’s just how the map is drawn.


So, while we will see some new faces coming up to the Senate, we do not expect to see much of a shift from the majority democrats to the minority republicans.


In fact, the democrats are almost guaranteed an additional Senate seat with the retirement of Senator Diane Allen of the 7th District.  She was an anomaly in which a republican held the Senate seat despite being in a strong democrat district.  Assemblyman Singleton is expected to win this seat for the democrats.


Should there be no other changes besides the above that would give the democrats a 25 to 15 majority in the Senate.


In the Assembly there are probably two or three districts in play.  It is yet to be seen if the republican party has hit the “low water” mark or if they are at risk of losing additional seats.  The democrats currently hold the General Assembly with 52 members to the republicans 28.


There will be much more to talk about as we get further into 2017!