Volume 7/Issue 4

  • Quinnipiac University Poll Finds Murphy and Guadagno Leading Gubernatorial Primary Election Fields
  • $400 Million Transportation Infrastructure Bill Passes Senate
  • Senate Committee Begins Work on New Energy Policies Package  

Quinnipiac University Poll Finds Murphy and Guadagno Leading Gubernatorial Primary Election Fields

A Quinnipiac University poll released last week finds former Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy leading the Democratic primary field and Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno running ahead of her GOP opponents.

Ambassador Murphy receives 23 percent of the Democratic vote, followed by Assemblyman John Wisniewski at 6 percent and State Senator Ray Lesniak and former U.S. Treasury Under Secretary Jim Johnson tied at 4 percent.  57 percent of Democratic primary voters are undecided.

Ambassador Murphy has amassed the support of county political leaders in every county across the state and has won multiple county party conventions in recent weeks.  The combination of these factors will give him preferential ballot position for the June 6th primary and make him the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Lt. Governor Guadagno leads the GOP field at 28 percent, followed by comedian Joe Piscopo at 18 percent and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli and Nutley Township Commissioner Steve Rogers tied at 2 percent.  Mr. Piscopo indicated over the weekend that he will not run in the GOP primary and may opt to run as an independent candidate.

The Lt. Governor and Assemblyman Ciattarelli have gone head-to-head in county political conventions across the state, also to win preferential ballot positions for the primary.  Lt. Governor Guadagno has amassed wins in 10 county conventions, though the Assemblyman has received significant support.

Ambassador Murphy leads the Lt. Governor 47 percent to 25 percent in a potential general election matchup.  

$400 Million Transportation Infrastructure Bill Passes Senate

The NJ State Senate passed legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney last week to expedite $140 million for NJ Transit for technology improvements and system safety and $260 million for roads and bridges in every county.

The Assembly version of the bill is sponsored by Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.  Both bills await consideration by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If approved, the funding for the projects will be allocated in the next 100 days.

Senate Committee Begins Work on New Energy Policies Package  

Senate Energy Committee Chairman Bob Smith recently spearheaded a legislative package designed to set the framework for the State’s energy policies in a post-Governor Christie era.  While publicly acknowledging that none of the bills are likely to be signed by the current Governor, Chairman Smith nonetheless has opted to move the legislation forward.

Multiple bills in the package were passed by the Senate Energy Committee earlier this week. Among the bills is legislation to require the State to re-join the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which was a program that Governor Christie had New Jersey withdraw from years back.  The committee also released a measure to require smart thermostats in all new residential construction and a companion bill to provide a gross income tax credit of 50 percent of the cost of the purchase and installation of a smart thermostat in residential properties.

Other measures in the package are likely to be posted for a committee vote in May or June.  A key bill establishes the “Volkswagen Settlement Utilization Fund for Motor Vehicle Emissions Reduction and Air Pollution Control.”  Under the recent VW settlement, New Jersey is projected to receive approximately $65 million in settlement funds that must be spent on 10 different categories, including zero emission vehicle infrastructure, diesel bus and engine locomotive retrofits and environmental justice programs that benefit communities that have been harmed by diesel pollution.

A more controversial measure that may also be considered in the Spring would study the establishment a “zero emissions credit program” in NJ.  Similar programs in others states compensate or credit nuclear power plants for every megawatt-hour of carbon free electricity the nuclear facility generates.