Chamber Train Rolls to Washington Amid Stress Over Trump

By David Cruz

The Annual Walk to Washington is a mostly collegial affair designed to put politicians, lobbyists and business people into a confined informal space with the end hope of facilitating positive interaction.

New Jersey Transit for the first time in 10 years is now requiring that we have a permit to be inside to leaflet,” said NJ Citizen Action Executive Director Phyllis Salowe-Kaye.

But restrictions on demonstrators and heavily armed police reflect the tense times around the country and in New Jersey.

“They do not seem well thought out, they do not seem considered. This is the presidency of the United States. This is not the mayor of a very small town deciding whether or not garbage pickup is going to be once a week or twice a week and I think all of us have rightful concerns about what is going on,” said Assemblyman Gary Schaer.

“Politics always has a big splash, so when you’re looking at some of the things that are happening in Washington, all the changes that are going on, naturally that’s going to be a topic of conversation because it’s change. But you can’t lose sight of the fact that what’s going on at home, and that’s what’s so important,” Assemblyman Anthony Bucco said.

“I am on Facebook and I do it for a reason,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz. “I like to see what’s going on. I like to know what people are doing. There’s a lot of anti-Trump sentiment out there and I see that and I understand it. It’s an interesting time.”

The gubernatorial candidates, those who are here anyway, are also feeling the Trump effect and some are turning it into motivation.

Sen. Ray Lesniak said about the tension, “I don’t believe it’s just blue states. We have a president who our intelligence community will not share intelligence information with because they’re afraid he’ll leak it or do with it what is not good for America. That’s a bad situation for all of us whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican.”

“Every other day things are coming at us that are either un-American or unconstitutional. I hope that slows down, believe me. I hope it moderates. But if it doesn’t, governors and local officials will be the vanguard against these un-American and unconstitutional practices,” Phil Murphy said.

The trick to making it through this train is to make up a lot of ground in the cars that don’t have a lot of people. We’re on our way to try and find a cardinal.

We found his eminence, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, in car number seven, talking Seton Hall basketball and even blessing selected items. He said he’s on a listening tour, even though he too has weighed in on Trump, criticizing the president’s executive orders on immigration.

He said, “Well there’s a lot of that. There’s a lot of useless fear I would say among the immigrants themselves, but even the people who are supporting these executive orders, they themselves are victims of fear and misinformation and I think that if I can do anything it’s to put a face on immigrants — say these are the people you’re talking about.”

Tobin is among the honored guests tonight at the 80th Walk to Washington dinner which will feature speeches from the state’s two U.S. senators and for the final time as governor, Chris Christie.