Amid what’s expected to be a charged political atmosphere in Trenton — with the budget and school funding on the legislative agenda — the Assembly’s two top leaders say they are recommitting themselves to civility and mutual respect to set an example for others.
The public call for more decorum made by Assembly Speaker Vince Prieto (D-Hudson) and Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) comes just days after a mass shooting near Washington, D.C., that saw members of Congress targeted as they practiced baseball in advance of a charity game. Authorities say the shooting was carried out by a man with a history of making inciteful political statements against Republicans.
But it also follows a bruising 2016 presidential election where the contest’s eventual winner, President Donald Trump, regularly called his opponents names, attacked them, and even criticized their families. And in New Jersey — where a particularly hardball brand of politics is practiced by county machines that still yield considerable control — Gov. Chris Christie has taken pride for regularly standing up to his most vocal critics by shouting back at them with insults like “idiot” and “jerk.” And it was Christie, in 2011, who urged reporters to “take the bat out” on Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen). (Christie suggested earlier this month he was only using the phrase rhetorically.)