The Democrat who’s running for governor and the man who once thought he would be running for governor were together today. Ambassador Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney made a joint appearance at a South Jersey employment center for the developmentally disabled. A cause close to Sweeney’s heart. He talked to Senior Correspondent David Cruz about that and more.
Cruz: Senate President Steve Sweeney is joining us now. Senator, you were saying this is your place.
Sweeney: This is what really gets my juices flowing. When you go inside and see these are people with disabilities that want to have the dignity and pride of having a job.
Cruz: And here you are, you’re going to have the man you expect to be the next governor of the state of New Jersey who you want to introduce to this, or reintroduce.
Sweeney: I want him to understand how important these places are, David. And obviously I’m pulling for it in a very strong way.
Cruz: I know that somewhere in your mind you’re at an event like this and you’re saying, “You know, that could have, should have been me.” Do you still have those thoughts now?
Sweeney: You know, David, politics are politics. You don’t get into this business and get your feelings hurt if you don’t get your way. I thought I was in a position, so does Steve Fulop and others. There can only be one candidate from each side and there’s only one winner. I’m very comfortable with Phil because he stands for a lot of things that I believe in and I’m very excited to come back in the Senate. I’m running again. I might not be running for governor, but I’m running for the Senate and if I’m successful, which I never take anything for granted, I intend to come back as Senate president and I think it’d be a great opportunity to work with Phil.
Cruz: You are going to have, if things go your way, a Democratic governor. That’s going to be different. Sometimes having everybody from the same party could lead to not so easygoing.
Sweeney: Listen, not everything was roses when we had Jon Corzine.
Cruz: I was just going to say that…
Sweeney: You know, we had struggles. I really do believe Phil is able to listen and understand that each branch, they are individual and they have priorities, too. What we want to do is meet with Phil and align the priorities. We already agree on a lot of things, equal pay, expanding paid family leave, the millionaires tax, what else, sick leave, there’s a whole host of things we already agree on.
Cruz: I was going to say a two percent cap on salary arbitration.
Sweeney: We have a study coming back on that and then we’ll make a decision when the new administration is coming in. We want to review what the study says. I’m the one that sponsored the bill, David, and we did it on purpose that it would sunset but it wouldn’t sunset until the report came back.
Cruz: Is there not sufficient evidence out there, in your mind, to suggest that it’s working?
Sweeney: I’m not saying it’s not working, what I’m saying is it sunsets Dec. 31 so we have time. Neither house is really coming back. We need to work together and we need to work with the next administration and see where we go with it.
Cruz: The Republican running for governor says keep it in place and you guys are just hemming and hawing, the unions.
Sweeney: David, of all people, look I’ve got a million dollar campaign against me from one union. I’ve never backed down for what I’ve believed in. We want to follow through with the legislation the way it was written.
Cruz: He’s got the NJEA in his corner, any way that maybe with all of you in the same room again you’ll start to be more friendly?
Sweeney: With who?
Cruz: The NJEA, particularly, because they’re supporting Murphy.
Sweeney: I want everyone to support Phil Murphy, so I’m happy that they’re supporting him. They’re clearly not supporting me, but you know something, I’m being supported by the largest teacher’s union in the country, the AFT. Why we’re having this fight, we’re having it and in my mind it doesn’t matter.
Cruz: Alright, Senate president Steve Sweeney. Thanks a lot, have a great weekend.
Sweeney: Thank you, David.