Newark, N.J. - The music of New Jersey rockers Bon Jovi battled with the din of saws and drills in the Prudential Arena Tuesday. The musicians were preparing for a series of 10 shows they'll be holding at the downtown Newark facility starting Thursday. The band is the first act to perform at the arena.
Years ago, when the now defunct Governor McGreevey was still Mayor McGreevey, he was in between runs for governor. It was some time in 1999/2000, that he was still traveling from Cape May to Ft. Lee and back again---going to every chicken dinner, political rally, summer time BBQ, senior citizen home, shaking hands and smooching NJ babies----all with the purpose of keeping his name and hope alive in order to run for Gov again in 2001. Little did we know what was happening on the GSP rest stops during those trips. But that is another story.
Then it happened: The now defunct Senator Torricelli announced he, too, may wish to run for Gov. After all, he told state Dems, McGreevey lost to Whitman, and the Party needed a fresh candidate with a statewide profile---so, I am your man. And for the next twelve days, the two men took to calling the state chairs.
Their calls burned the phone lines. As the Hunterdon County Chair back then before the turn of the century, I was the recipient of many calls. The battle waged fearlessly with promises, more promises, and even more promises. McGreevey disparaged the Torch and the Torch hit back hard. Their raging battle saw more twists and turns than Bush’s Iraq policy.
But then an endorsement came that turned the tide: The now defunct Mayor of Newark, Sharp James, came out and endorsed McGreevey. That gave McGreevey the edge he needed to spell disaster for Torricelli. The basis for that endorsement: McGreevey promised that as governor, he would support an arena to be built in downtown Newark.
Ballgame over. Torricelli over. McGreevey wins. McGreevey wins.
Now, it is seven years later, and the Prudential Area is a reality. Times have changed, though.
McGreevey is in preparation for entering the priesthood. Sharpe James is in preparation for trial. Torricelli is in real estate, political consultation, wahtever else, and writes on occasion for PoliticsNJ.
And the Prudential Area is set to open with Jon Bon Jovi, runner up to Bruce (who I would imagine they really wanted instead). With tons of traffic predicted for the opening nights, Bon Jovi will rock the stage to sold out shows, for this week at least. With the Nets going through the tunnels to Brooklyn in a few years, NJ will be minus one sports team to play at the new Arena----the only team that actually played in New Jersey, AND had the NJ title in their name.
So, it goes in NJ. And we wonder why we’re fodder for Jay Leno jokes. Maybe he should try Jay-walking on the streets of Newark. He would get an earful.