Source: Politico New Jersey -
Democrats on Tuesday swore in their largest majority in the state Assembly since 1979.
But it was Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick, after suffering a rough election two months ago, who gave the most muscular speech of the ceremony at Trenton’s war memorial — a defiant and impassioned call for civil discourse in which he skewed politicians and the media.
“Politics has gone from the art of statesmanship to an arena of insults, ridicule and showmanship,” Bramnick said. “Treating opponents with respect is no longer a cherished part of the American landscape, and that should be very troublesome to all of us.”
“The rhetoric on both sides of the aisle, and even in the press, when speaking about a president or a governor is now done with such disdain or disrespect that it’s offensive to the office itself,” Bramnick said. “Whether we are talking about Barack Obama or Chris Christie, let’s keep in mind that they occupy an office in our government that deserves basic respect and basic decency.”
Leadership of the new Assembly class remains the same, but 10 new members were sworn in Tuesday from Cumberland, Camden, Burlington, Monmouth, Mercer, Union and Hudson counties.
Democrats ousted four of Bramnick’s Republican incumbents in November, winning significantly more clout in the lower house. Their 52-seat majority means that if the Democratic caucus is united against a veto by Christie, Democrats must pick off only two GOP votes to succeed in overriding it.
But while he pledged to work together with Democrats, Bramnick said he wouldn’t cave to them.
“We will stand up against using the constitution as a legislative tool to avoid the veto of the governor, we will strongly oppose unfair redistricting plans that make New Jersey a one-party state and we will clearly express our concerns about the costs of living or dying in New Jersey,” Bramnick said.
The criticism could apply to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, even though Bramnick did not name him.
It did not appear aimed at Christie, despite the fact that the governor has called Obama a “petulant child” and a reporter an “idiot” and once urged reporters to “take the bat out” on a state senator.
“Hateful rhetoric is repugnant to New Jerseyans and most of the people who live in this country,” Bramnick said. “If you are a Republican who hates all Democrats or a Democrat who despises all Republicans, you have no business to be in office.”
Bramnick is a Christie loyalist who has acknowledged he’s considering a run to succeed the governor when his second term ends next year.
Bramnick said news coverage has focused too heavily on conflict, “hair” and “boots” — references to Trump and GOP presidential rival Marco Rubio — at the expense of detailed policy coverage.
“My friends in the media: you should not be co-conspirators in creating an atmosphere of distrust and divisiveness. It does not serve the common good, and if you see a campaign on either side of the aisle that wrongly attacks the character of a candidate and you fail to address the real issues, you are part of the problem,” Bramnick said.