Atlantic City has been generating some negative headlines recently. There’s no question about that. The Atlantic Club closed in January, Showboat and Trump Plaza will be closing at the end of the summer, and Revel may close if someone doesn’t buy the property by mid-August. Everyone agrees, the decline in casino revenue, forcing these closures, is the over saturation of casinos in the Northeast, as legalized gambling in Pennsylvania and New York have siphoned away customers and dollars. With these closures, 20-25% of Atlantic City’s casino workforce will lose their jobs. Many are calling this the beginning of the end of Atlantic City.
Well let me tell you something, Save Jerseyans…
Atlantic City is down, but it is not out. (And before you accuse me of being a naïve, unrealistically-optimistic idealist for saying such a thing, let me point out to that you would be the first person to ever call me that).
Aimee Belgard (D, NJ-03) and Bill Hughes, Jr. (D, NJ-02) are having enough trouble gaining traction this cycle in their respective swing districts, Save Jerseyans. The last thing they needed today? A full-throated endorsement from Nancy Pelosi, one of Congress’s most polarizing figures, in a published national interview:
“Let’s go to New Jersey, Amy Belgard. She’s really terrific. She was in before the current incumbent got out of the race. We have [Bill] Hughes in that race up there against [Rep. Frank] LoBiondo. I don’t know how that one is going. But I’ve been to a number of fundraisers with Amy Belgard, because she comes over to our events in Philadelphia, where we have a number of good candidates there.”
Pelosi might as well have cut a check to the NRCC for the mailer/web ad/TV spot which will, almost assuredly, feature her quote. She’s that toxic in Toms River, Mt. Laurel, Egg Harbor Township and every other South Jersey point in between.
Republicans were rightly appreciate though not quite in expectation of the formal donation. “Aimee Belgard just received the kiss of death with this latest endorsement from Nancy Pelosi,” opined NRCC Spokesman Ian Prior. “New Jersey families now have confirmation that if Belgard is sent to Congress she will be a reliable vote for Pelosi and her liberal agenda.”
One of the major complaints cited by Republican observers of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign? He wasn’t very comfortable discussing his impressive track record of public philanthropy and private charity. That made it all-too-easy for Democrats to smear the successful businessman as a cold, robotic millionaire unconcerned with the plight of hard working Americans.
NJ-03′s Tom MacArthur, himself a well-heeled former executive who’s considered to have an early advantage in what is arguably New Jersey’s only seriously competitive 2014 House race, is determined to avoid that pitfall as evidenced by his first general election TV spot, “Integrity,” released on Friday:
MacArthur (center back) and supporters walk in Riverton 4th of July Parade
Another major institution of political prognostication is recognizing a decidedly pro-GOP trend in NJ-03, Save Jerseyans; this time, it’s “Pure Toss-Up” to
“Barack Obama won the district twice, so this is the type of district Democrats have to win in order to creep closer to the majority,” opined Nathan L. Gonzales, Deputy Editor of The Rothenberg Political Report, in a report released Thursday, “[b]ut their challenge is indicative of how difficult this cycle has been so far.”
Few serious observers think Democrat Freeholder Aimee Belgard’s comically lame “click and paste” campaign is gaining traction against Republican Tom MacArthur in a district that’s only gone Democrat once since Reconstruction despite recent demographic shifts in Burlington County that should, in theory, benefit Dems.
Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) raked in $411,281 in 2014′s second quarter, Save Jerseyans, and now enjoys $1,562,459 cash on hand down the home stretch.
“With less than four months to the election, our campaign is raising the bar in accessibility and outreach,” the Lobiondo campaign boasted in a press release. “South Jersey residents are no stranger to seeing Congressman LoBiondo in their communities at church BBQs or firehouse fundraisers for our first responders. Now they will be able to interact with his campaign on their time via their mobile devices and social media. Congressman LoBiondo continues to be humbled and grateful to his long-time supporters for their continued financial and electoral support.”
Lobiondo’s Democrat opponent Bill Hughes, Jr. claimed just $342,199 in his war chest as of the prior reporting period; he has yet to announce his latest tally.
In 1976, New Jersey voters passed a referendum legalizing gambling in Atlantic City. Casino gambling was supposed to do two things: lead the renovation of Atlantic City and provide Trenton with an influx of cash that would help provide tax relief to New Jersey residents.
38 years later, Atlantic City has failed on both counts. And now gambling in Atlantic City is faltering, too. Why? Because our leaders are short-sighted, thinking only in terms of two- and four-year election cycles rather than long-term.
When gambling was legalized in Atlantic City, people knew that A.C. would never truly compete with Las Vegas as a vacation and conference/convention destination, but it would be a gambling destination for the northeast. Gamblers bused in for day trips and northeastern gamblers would spend long weekends in Atlantic City primarily because it was the only gambling home on the east coast. Unfortunately, our leaders in Trenton have been treating A.C. as if it is still the only game on the east coast.
State Senator Jeff Van Drew (D-1) took a pass on a CD2 run against Congressman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ2) this year, Save Jerseyans, leaving his party’s chances for a New Jersey Democrat House pick-up in the less-than-capable hands of Bill Hughes, Jr., scion of a political family led by his father, former Congressman Bill Hughes.
I say less-than-capable because Hughes has $342,199 on hand, hardly an inspiring amount of cash for a Democrat challenger in a PVI D+1 district where the multi-term incumbent boasts a better than one million dollar advantage. Hughes will likely post a less-than-inspiring finish in November barring a major Lobiondo slip-up or a dramatic reversal of the national climate trajectory (we just found out that President Obama is solidly upside down statewide at the moment, so he’s likely even less popular in the redder reaches of South Jersey).
Not only is the first term Burlington County freeholder running on nothing but name-calling at present, ducking debate challenges and refusing to engage on substance but, as the national conservative outpost Hot Air just discovered, Belgard is proving to be anything but original.
Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw discovered that Belgard was one of (at least) three House Democrats who’ve recently blasted out the same paraphrased DNC talking points, pledging to reject “Congressional perks.”And when I say paraphrased, I mean virtually identical.
The parent company of Atlantic City’s 1,331-room Showboat Casino, where the popular music venue ‘House of Blues’ is located, reportedly plans to layoff 2,100 employees on Friday, Save Jerseyans, the first step towards closure.
Competition from other nearby casinos and a city-wide steep drop in gaming revenue from out-of-state competition (40% since 2006) are the major factors, though the Showboat did remain profitable which is more than we can say for many other casinos down there.
One of those in-the-red nearby casinos at a less-than-busy end of the legendary A.C. boardwalk is the Revel which is set for auction in August despite substantial financial assistance from the State of New Jerseytaxpayers of New Jersey. Oh, if Nucky could see his Empire now…
Please keep the Showboat employees in your prayers. They’re victims of a bad business model artificially propped-up by politicians 2 hours away on the other side of the state. The only good that can come of this mess is if the existing casinos get their collective act together and voters learn a hard lesson about the inadvisability of corporate welfare.
A woman protests Governor Christie’s pension payment walk-back at his 6/25/14 Haddon Heights Town Hall (photo credit: Alyssa LaFage)
I thoroughly enjoyed attending my first Christie town hall in a long time on Wednesday, Save Jerseyans, though to be 100% honest with you, the pall of a budget battle palpably hung heavily over Governor Chris Christie’s 122nd such gathering hosted at an elementary school in suburban Haddon Heights.
Still, the Governor’s opening comments to the 300-ish attendees were less optimistic and upbeat than usual - the fictional Marty McFly might’s said “heavy” – and the tenor of the day’s discussion didn’t get too much more chipper from there on out despite his best attempts to mix in a little humor (and he did get some laugh lines as per usual). Also noticeably absent were any of the Governor’s situational allies in the South Jersey Democrat Machine; only Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. was in attendance, a staunch support of police consolidated backed by the Administration, but he politely got up and left half way through the event.
No Steve Sweeney, nor Dana Redd, nor Donald Norcross (even though Heights is in his district).
A sign of the mood 45 minutes north on I-295? Christie was stoic, sober yet undeniably fatalistic about the next steps in the choreographed budget drama. “…[the Democrats] passed yesterday a whole bunch of these taxes in committee,” Christie explained, providing a little background for his audience. “I assume they are going to pass them tomorrow in the full senate and assembly.”
Governor Christie speaks at Rutgers Camden in 2012
Most of Governor Chris Christie’s post-2012 town halls have taken place in Sandy-affected regions of Central Jersey and the Shore points, Save Jerseyans, and it’s not hard to see why, but for one day at least, he’s breaking out of that recovery-centric pattern on Wednesday as he heads to the suburban Camden County community of Haddon Heights.
A budget battle is heating up in Trenton, and Haddon Heights is represented by Donald Norcross (D-5), brother of the South Jersey Democrat Boss George Norcross III, the Governor’s sometimes ally who also happens to own the allegiance of Senate President Steve Sweeney’s legislative voting bloc.Undoubtedly the Governor hopes to ride into town one day after signing bipartisan arbitration cap legislation and apply a little pressure to the Democrats he’ll need in his camp to avoid a government shut down.
We’ll let you know how it goes. It’s always interesting…
Revel is heading back to bankruptcy court for the second time in just two years, according to sources familiar with the filing. The perpetually troubled casino allegedly can’t meet its quarterly property tax obligation to Atlantic City and it is warning employees of dire consequences as soon as August:
“Revel sent out a statement saying they’re looking for a new owner and will do so through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And the company gave its 3,100 employees letters warning they’ll shut down and could be out of work as soon as August 18th if there’s no buyer.”
Chief among them is former NJ GOP Chairman and political “rising star” Jay Webber who’s never afraid to challenge the status quo. “We shouldn’t be providing these massive subsidies to people who are doing incredibly well,” Webber tolod NJTV on Friday. “These corporate subsidies, this corporate welfare, you’re taxing the guy who works at the gas station; you’re taxing the school teacher; you’re taxing the cop. You’re taking their money and you’re sticking it in the pocket of the owners of the 76ers.”
No, I’m not talking about the Keystone Pipeline (though I do think that should also be built already!), Save Jerseyans. I’m talking about the BL England Pipeline Project. You’ve read about Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi’s efforts to get this pipeline built on Save Jersey. You’ve probably heard the loud objections of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups about burying a pipeline along the shoulder of a road that runs through the Pinelands. You’ve probably read about the politics of the pipeline.
What you haven’t read or heard is why this Pipeline needs to be built.
But is it the most inspiring choice? One worthy of your vote? Not in my opinion or, I’d hope, anyone other free-thinking individual invested our country’s future.
To put it as kindly as possible, South Jersey Machine Democrat Aimee Belgard had an inauspicious start to her candidacy, announcing before the ink on Jon Runyan’s retirement statement was cooled yet unbelievably, from all outward appearances, having given precious little forethought to the major challenges facing our nation.