GOP Claims Dems Looking Toward 2017 Instead of Focusing on Current Issues

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

Assembly Republican leader Jon Bramnick made the argument today that when Chris Christie won reelection with 60 percent of the vote, it was a mandate for the governor’s reform agenda. Trenton Democrats, Bramnick said, are failing to respond to that 60 percent mandate.

“It’s my opinion that the Democrats are focusing on 2017, they’re focusing in on the gubernatorial race that’s years down the road, and they are now in my judgment playing to a limited number of voters I’ll call the special interests,” Bramnick said.

As it happens, Senate President Steve Sweeney, one of those Democrats seen as jockeying for 2017, was standing with organized labor today to push a bill requiring public colleges and agencies to buy American products. But he rejected Bramnick’s point.

“That’s ridiculous, honestly Michael. It’s actually insulting. Look, I did reform. No one was more a reformer than I was. I was out in 2006 talking about government reforms and that’s a fact,” said Sweeney.

Bramnick says the committee investigating the George Washington Bridge lane closures has distorted Trenton’s focus.

“For the past six months, they’ve been searching for why the bridge was closed instead of searching for answers of how to keep the state of New Jersey open two, three, four years down the road,” Bramnick said.

“We’re not capable of chewing gum and walking at that same time?” asked Sweeney.

Committee Co-Chair John Wisniewski, another talked-about gubernatorial aspirant, is leading an investigation that has produced almost nothing, Bramnick said, but looks as if it’s going to continue indefinitely.

“Very simply put, you give politicians an opportunity to be in front of cameras on a regular basis, they’ll keep that investigation going on forever. When you see 10 or 15 cameras in a room, that’s gonna continue. Period. End of story,” Bramnick said. When asked if he was suggesting the investigation be suspended, Bramnick said, “Absolutely. Without a doubt. Let’s see what happens with the U.S. Attorney and all the other investigative bodies.”

Bramnick clarified that remark to say, suspend looking for the who and the why of the lane closures, but keep going on Port Authority reform. He said he’s asked his number two, Assemblyman Dave Rible, to hold parallel hearings on creating some jobs here in New Jersey.