Monday, December 14, 2009

Salem County Railroad

Some more federal funding for the Salem County Railroad:

The county-owned railroad is slated to receive $750,000. The funds will be used for the continued rehabilitation of the railroad.

“We are delighted that our congressional delegation has been able to secure additional funding for our Salem County short-line,” Freeholder Deputy Director Beth Timberman said...

“The funding in this measure is going to be a real boost for New Jersey; it will help create jobs, expand and improve our transportation infrastructure, and upgrade medical facilities across the state,” Sen. Frank L. Lautenberg, D-NJ...

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., made sure the $750,000 for the county railroad was included in the House version of the spending bill, according to his spokesman Jason Galanes.

LoBiondo has been a big supporter of the county’s action to revitalize the railroad and the positive economic impact it can have on the area.

Good for all of them.

Frank LoBiondo's opposition to Wall Street reforms

This week Frank LoBiondo, like all other Republicans, voted against the The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009. He also voted for the Minnick Amendment, which The Hill says was meant to gut a key part of financial overhaul legislation by eliminating the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). Thinking of the events since Frank LoBiondo came to Congress -- the internet bubble, Enron, the housing bubble, the stock market crashes -- it's hard to see why he doesn't see the need for reform.

In any case, the DNC has put out this release:

Rep. LoBiondo, Republicans Oppose Financial Regulatory Reform, Side With Wall Street Over Main Street

Even After Irresponsible Practices Of Wall Street Put Our Economy On The Brink Of Collapse, Rep. LoBiondo Votes Against Reform

Washington, DC – Despite the fact that small businesses and families in New Jersey are still bearing the burden of Wall Street’s poor choices, Rep. LoBiondo last week turned his back on New Jersey residents and voted to let the financial sector continue their risky practices unchecked. On Friday, Rep. LoBiondo and his Republican colleagues in Congress unanimously voted against the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009. The bill, which passed without a single Republican vote, will help stabilize our economy and reign in the irresponsible Wall Street practices that put our economy on the brink of collapse. Championed by President Obama and Democrats in Congress, the bill will protect New Jersey families and small businesses from the unfair and abusive practices that have harmed so many.

Rep. LoBiondo’s no vote is just further evidence that he is out of touch with the people of the 2nd Congressional District, who voted to put President Obama in the White House last November. If Rep. LoBiondo continues to side with Wall Street and big business rather than New Jersey’s residents, he could be at political risk this November.

“It is unbelievable that Rep. LoBiondo and the Republican Party continue to stand by the Wall Street executives whose excessive greed and risk-taking nearly caused an economic meltdown just over one year ago. New Jersey families and small businesses are still suffering from the fallout of Wall Street’s irresponsible behavior, but Rep. LoBiondo wants to let the companies that got us into this mess continue to go unchecked,” said DNC Regional Press Secretary Michael Czin. “Last year, the people of the 2nd Congressional District voted for change because they knew that eight years of failed Bush economic policies had put us in a downward spiral. If Rep. LoBiondo continues to stand by the irresponsible economic policies of the Bush era, he will stand to pay a heavy price at the polls next year.”

Friday, December 11, 2009

Frank LoBiondo on President Obama's Afghanistan Strategy

I early posted that I couldn't find Frank LoBiondo's statement on the new Afghanistan strategy, but actually I must have just missed it. Here it is:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, tonight issued the following statement after the President addressed the nation on his new strategic plan for Afghanistan, including the addition of 30,000 troops to combat theater in the coming weeks.

“Tonight, the President informed the American people of his new strategy in attempt to stem the Taliban uprising and Al Qaeda resurgence in Afghanistan and the region. I am heartened the President finally gave serious consideration to the recommendations of our commanders in the field. I strongly believe the men and women of our military, who selflessly serve our country, should not be short-changed in the resources and reinforcements they need to complete their mission.

“I have serious and growing concerns about the stability and ability of the Afghan government to effectively govern its own country. The deadly determination of Taliban insurgents and the ongoing efforts of Al Qaeda to re-establish itself in the region are clear. These are critical issues that must be addressed in order for us to succeed and our troops to return home safely. I have spoken with General McChrystal about these concerns and look forward to his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee next week.”

LoBiondo has visited the Afghanistan region seven times since 2005. On his most recent trip in late August 2009, LoBiondo met with General Stanley McChrystal for over an hour in Afghanistan.

A good statement in my opinion. The only open question is whether "I strongly believe the men and women of our military, who selflessly serve our country, should not be short-changed in the resources and reinforcements they need to complete their mission" would go so far as to support new taxes to actually pay for these resources.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More on 2010 Challengers

I forgot to link to the excellent Press of Atlantic City article on challengers to Frank LoBiondo.

Democrat Van Drew unlikely to run against LoBiondo

I had a little fun with the Tea Party crowd, but the two party system is pretty resilient. Democrats are the most likely to beat Frank LoBiondo. One highly touted possibility is State Senator Jeff Van Drew of Cape May county, but he's tells Politicker NJ he's unlikely to run next year:

“I’m not trying to be coy. The bottom line is this: I’m very focused on the state issues right now. They are huge. They’re historic. They’re beyond anything the state of New Jersey has ever seen,” said Van Drew in a phone interview last week.

Van Drew has been recruited by Democratic leaders about a prospective congressional run before, particularly for the 2008 election.

“I never say never… but I’d say the likelihood is not there,” he said.

There's not much doubt he'd be the strongest challenger, so I'm sure Frank LoBiondo is happy to see this.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Helpful advice to the right on recall elections

My "google alert" for Frank LoBiondo recently brought up a post at a myspace-like place called "Patriotic Resistance." (The post may actually be a few months old.) Anyway, one of the conservative activists at that site, who lives in a town near mine, reports that she "shocked" Frank LoBiondo's staff by explaining how she plans to launch a recall of Senator Bob Menendez, and also intimidated LoBiondo into changing his vote on cap-n-trade. Well, maybe there's some truth to the latter, but her plan to recall Menendez by gathering "292,000" signatures isn't going to work. As the New Jersey State Constitution, Article 1, Section 2b:

The people reserve unto themselves the power to recall, after at least one year of service, any elected official in this State or representing this State in the United States Congress. The Legislature shall enact laws to provide for such recall elections. Any such laws shall include a provision that a recall election shall be held upon petition of at least 25% of the registered voters in the electoral district of the official sought to be recalled. If legislation to implement this constitutional amendment is not enacted within one year of the adoption of the amendment, the Secretary of State shall, by regulation, implement the constitutional amendment, except that regulations adopted by the Secretary of State shall be superseded by any subsequent legislation consistent with this constitutional amendment governing recall elections. The sufficiency of any statement of reasons or grounds procedurally required shall be a political rather than a judicial question.

According to the latest state voter registration statistics, there are 5,227,896 registered voters in New Jersey. So to recall Senator Menendez, my conservative friends will need a minimum of 1,306,974 signatures. Chris Christie only got 1,174,445 votes, so that might be a bit tough for them.

On the other hand, there are just 430,010 registered voters in Frank LoBiondo's district (New Jersey 2), so maybe the target of 107,503 signatures would be a better initial goal. The right could collect signatures for both Menendez and LoBiondo at the same time. I'm just trying to be helpful! :)

On the other hand, maybe it would easier to follow the lead of my last post: an independent Tea Party candidate would have a better chance to win. In 2006, LoBiondo got 109,040 votes, so you could defeat him in November 2010 from the Tea Party side with fewer votes than you need to recall him.

Could this be true: Tea Party more popular than Republicans?

I find it hard to believe anyone could really challenge Frank LoBiondo from the right, but if this Rasmussen Poll is true maybe it is possible:

Running under the Tea Party brand may be better in congressional races than being a Republican.

In a three-way Generic Ballot test, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds Democrats attracting 36% of the vote. The Tea Party candidate picks up 23%, and Republicans finish third at 18%. Another 22% are undecided.

Among voters not affiliated with either major party, the Tea Party comes out on top. Thirty-three percent (33%) prefer the Tea Party candidate, and 30% are undecided. Twenty-five percent (25%) would vote for a Democrat, and just 12% prefer the GOP.

Among Republican voters, 39% say they’d vote for the GOP candidate, but 33% favor the Tea Party option.

Ramussen goes on to say "In practical terms, it is unlikely that a true third-party option would perform as well as the polling data indicates." which is the understatement of the year. Furthermore, LoBiondo has the advantage of incumbency. Still, something to keep an eye on. Unfortunately for me, it seems like this pressure is more likely to get LoBiondo to fall into line with the right wing, than to end up getting rid of him.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Frank LoBiondo: Wealth and Seniority

Blue Jersey has a post called Money and Power in Congress, looking at the Roll Call report on wealth in the House of Representatives. As Roll Call explains,

The table below lists the minimum value of the assets and liabilities of Members of the House of Representatives as reported on their 2009 financial disclosure forms (covering calendar year 2008). Assets include stocks, bank accounts, rental properties and other income-producing holdings; liabilities are most frequently mortgages and other bank loans. Assets and liabilites are reported in broad ranges; this table uses the minimum of all reported ranges and subtracts liabilities from assets to produce a minimum net worth.

Anyone who has voted in New Jersey--whether a liberal, moderate or conservative, Democrat or Republican--has voted for some very wealthy people, but it's still nice to know.

Frank LoBiondo has an estimated $370,000 in assets, but $100,000 in liabilities, for a minimum net worth of $270,000. Needless to say that's comfortable -- remember it is a minimum -- but not really rich, as rich is defined nowadays in Congress, and nowhere near the scale of wealth that allows one to self-finance statewide campaigns.

Also, LoBiondo is 131st in seniority.

Frank LoBiondo on President Obama's Afghanistan Strategy

Unfortunately, it seems Representative Frank LoBiondo did not post his reaction to President Obama's speech outlining his Afghanistan-Pakistan war strategy, but the Courier-Post has this snippet:

Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo, R-N.J., said he was "heartened the president finally gave serious consideration to the recommendations of our commanders in the field." But the member of the House Armed Services Committee also voiced "serious and growing concerns about the stability and ability of the Afghan government."

If anti-war Democrats vote against funding, Representative LoBiondo's vote may be needed to fund this escalation of the war he supports. I'd like to see the full statement since I too am concerned about the Afghan government.