Page-3 | Sweeney, Norcross attack on Lautenberg over Rutgers-Rowan merger was calculated | Commentary | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.

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Sweeney, Norcross attack on Lautenberg over Rutgers-Rowan merger was calculated

Congressman Frank Pallone, for instance, has waited patiently for a Lautenberg retirement and would be extremely reluctant to put aside his ambition and stand down in favor of Sweeney.

Should Congressman Steve Rothman prevail in his primary contest with Congressman Bill Pascrell, he, too, can stake a legitimate claim on Lautenberg’s seat.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate next year, but as a Senate candidate in 2014 as well. He’s already created a Federal political action committee, suggesting he’s hedging his bets but is serious nonetheless.

Lautenberg is a tough and shrewd politician who has proven repeatedly that he can more than hold his own in the combat that goes along with not only winning an office but in remaining there.

When, for instance, he asked the U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to look into the proposed Rowan-Rutgers merger, his statement never mentioned Norcross by name but the reference in his statement to backroom deals and political insiders was aimed directly at him.

When, in a fortuitous coincidence for Lautenberg, State Comptroller Matthew Boxer issued a damning report on years of questionable financial practices of the Delaware River Port Authority, including a payment of some $450,000 to an insurance brokerage firm headed by Norcross, the Senator pounced on it as credible and objective proof of personal gain through political manipulation.

It’s unlikely that Sweeney’s and Norcross’ attacks on Lautenberg were heat of the moment reactions open to be withdrawn when cooler heads prevailed. Rather, they were part of a calculated and deliberate strategy to deliver a message to the Senator that --- as formidable as he’s been in the past --- he’s occupying shaky ground.

Not only have the bridges been burned, but the six square blocks of the village surrounding it have been put to the torch as well.

Carl Golden is a senior contributing analyst with the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Richard Stockton College.

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Comments (1)
1 Monday, 09 April 2012 11:26
Patrick Cox
As this article points out, Lautenberg drew national attention to the forced takeover and to how NJ manages higher education. It was a huge public stage on which Norcross, Sweeney, and Christie could’ve bragged about what great an idea they have to shut down an established and esteemed research university to bailout some other institutions' bad debts. It was a golden opportunity to have national attention shed on what great stewards of higher ed and the public trust they are--not a bad opportunity for local small-timers with inflated egos and dreams of Washington.

But instead, Sweeney heard Norcross’s organ grinding and obediently danced on that national stage like a monkey in a tutu. Why did he cry insults at Lautenberg instead of answer his public questions? The obvious bottom line: Lautenberg was right, he called out Christie, Sweene, and Norcross in public, and they had little tizzy fits. There’s nothing positive about this takeover that Sweeney’s willing to say in public. Norcorss runs Cooper and Cooper is a financial failure, so Norcross has commanded Sweeney to “Go fetch, boy!” and get Rutgers for him as a bailout. Sweeney knows if he proves himself well-trained, Norcross might slip him a treat in the end. I think we all know this.

Lautenberg’s repeated letters gave Sweeney, Norcross, Christie, and the dupes at Rowan a chance to shine nation-wide and all they were able to muster was some pathetic name-calling. Nothing says “We’ve got a bad idea” like politicians avoiding the chance to speak on a national stage about it.

This is not how democracy is supposed to work, not how reasonable people discuss ideas, and certainly not how our state universities and other resources are supposed to be managed. And again, I think we all know this.

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