05/18/2017 07:15 AM EDT

By Matt Friedman (mfriedman@politico.com; @mattfriedmannj) with Rebecca Morin (rmorin@politico.com; @RebeccaMorin_)

Good Thursday morning!

The crowds at the Correspondents Club show aren't getting any bigger, but last night's show was probably the best I've seen.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno started it off with a rendition of Diana Ross's "I'm Coming Out" that got the the audience to its feet. Ryan Hutchins was a great president, even if he took a bribe on stage to stop telling a joke about Phil Murphy.

And you'd be surprised how many members of the Statehouse press corps can actually sing. Katie Jennings, David Giambusso, Brent Johnson and Charles Stile can all carry a tune. A highlight was Giambusso and Johnson's "The Sound of Mike Pence," sung from Christie's perspective. (And in the naked light I saw/ From Bergen County to the shore/ All the people who supported me/ Call me a loser and a big bully/ People writing columns/ Saying my career is in the can/ F--- you Moran/ And the stupid sound of Mike Pence).

And props to Michael Symons, whose saintly efforts have kept this long tradition alive.

WHERE'S CHRISTIE? No public schedule

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Next question. I don't answer hypotheticals." - Gov. Christie, asked if he thinks it's appropriate for a president to ask the FBI director to end an investigation

DAYS SINCE CHRISTIE HAS TAKEN QUESTIONS FROM NJ PRESS CORPS: 1

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Democratic state Senate candidate Vin Gopal, Willingboro Councilman Darvis Holley, NJ Advance Media's Susan K. Livio, AP reporter Josh Lederman

WHAT TRENTON MADE

A 37.5 MASTRO DEAL - "Lawmakers outraged over quick sale of $300M in bonds for Statehouse renovation," by POLITICO's Matt Friedman: "New Jersey sold $300 million in bonds to finance Gov. Chris Christie's controversial Statehouse renovation on the same day the Economic Development Authority approved it, outraging four state lawmakers who are suing to stop the renovation. Senators Christopher "Kip" Bateman, Michael Doherty and Raymond Lesniak called out the Christie administration in a press release Wednesday. Doherty and Bateman are Republicans. Lesniak is a Democrat who's running for governor. The Christie administration said in court Wednesday that the state sold the bonds May 11, the same day the EDA authorized the bonding after less than five minutes of questioning from board members. 'In an effort to avoid transparency and accountability, the governor must have set a new record for the speed with which bonds were sold after the NJEDA rubber-stamped his expensive renovation plan,' Doherty said in a statement. 'This is a clear sign that the Christie Administration didn't want to give legislators or the public even a moment to review or challenge this expensive State House renovation.' ... Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democratic candidate for governor, filed a separate lawsuit last week to block the renovation. Wisniewski said the bonds were sold just 30 minutes after the EDA approved the sale." Read the report

VACATION HOME INCARCERATION FOR EVERYONE! - "New chief judge for N.J. will take over in federal courts," by NJ Advance Media's Ted Sherman: "Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle, 68, is assuming 'senior status,' a form of semi-retirement that allows a judge to continue working at a reduced case level. He will be succeeded by U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares, 63, who sits in Newark, who will become the first Hispanic chief federal judge in New Jersey. Simandle said in addition to a ceremonial handing over of the gavel, he will offer a bottle of Excedrin to his successor--who will assume responsibility for a district that has 15 active judges, 7 senior judges, and courthouses in Trenton, Camden and Newark. 'It's one of the busiest federal courts in the country,' he explained." Read the report

-"Ex-N.J. treasurer: 11 observations to guide you through N.J.'s tax policy" Read the report

-"Reconstituted ELEC continues to chip away at backlog" Read the report

-"Fallout from New Jersey bridge saga continues with lawsuit" Read the report

2017

GUADAGNO MUST WISH SHE HAD PUSHED FOR OPEN PRIMARIES - "Why Democrats are pulling for Guadagno in the GOP primary," by POLITICO's Matt Friedman: " With the Republican gubernatorial primary tightening, a large group of New Jersey insiders is rooting for Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno to maintain her edge over Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli. But those insiders can't vote in the June 6 GOP primary - because they're Democrats ... Though most won't say it publicly, many Democratic insiders want Guadagno to win because they don't believe she can overcome her ties to the profoundly unpopular Gov. Chris Christie after seven years as his number two, according to numerous conversations POLITICO has had with them in recent weeks. They also worry Ciattarelli, a well-spoken medical publisher, would make a more effective case against Murphy who, having made a fortune as a Goldman Sachs executive, has his own vulnerabilities. 'I can tell you opposition researchers are pulling out every clip of (Guadagno) standing dutifully behind the governor. That's what she's going to be pegged with, fair or not,' said Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora." Read the report

YOU'RE SO VAINIERI - "Sources: Bergen's VVH in the LG mix," by InsiderNJ's Max Pizarro: "To date, we have reported on Passaic, Essex, Burlington and Camden as those origins of potential running mates for Democratic front-runner Phil Murphy. But InsiderNJ has learned that Bergen also has a possible candidate for the job: Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-37). It's a long shot." Read the report

RAIA SPEAKS! NAA JUST KIDDING IT'S PETE SHERIDAN - "Head of NJ Republican Party shares views on upcoming gubernatorial debate, election" Read the interview

-"Republican gubernatorial candidates cool to ACA replacement bill" Read the report

-"Ciattarelli targets pension fraud allegations from Guadagno's tenure as Monmouth sheriff" Read the report

-"Al Gore Endorses Murphy for NJ Governor" Read the report

-"The claims to watch for in Thursday's N.J. GOP gubernatorial debate" Read the report

THE TRUMP ERA

WE'LL SEE - "Chao: Gateway 'is an absolute priority'" by POLITICO's Briana Gruciullo: "Elaine Chao today called the Gateway Program in New York and New Jersey 'an absolute priority' for the Donald Trump administration. At a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, Sen. Cory Booker said the nation is 'teetering on the edge of a traffic Armageddon in the Northeast region.' The Gateway Program includes a project to fix up a rail tunnel under the Hudson River and build a brand new one. 'Please be assured that Gateway is an absolute priority in terms of our focus,' Chao said. Chao travels via Amtrak to New York, and she said today: 'I've been delayed as well.'" Read the report

WAITING TO EXHALE- "Once eager to prosecute Clinton, Christie wants 'deep breath' for Trump," by The Record's Dustin Racioppi: "Christie in 2015: 'Mrs. Clinton deleted emails when she was under subpoena. You know in my neck of the woods we call that obstruction of justice.' Christie on Wednesday: 'I'm the only person in this room, I think, who has prosecuted obstruction of justice cases and won them. They're very difficult cases to prove and you have to have very significant evidence of the state of mind of the person...so I'd ask everybody to take a deep breath before everybody jumps to conclusions.'" Read the report

STRAIGHT SHOOTER TELLS IT LIKE IT IS - "After slamming Clinton over classified slip-ups, Christie gives Trump a pass," by The Record's Charles Stile: "It's an episode, if proved true, that could be be far more destructive to the nation's interests than any classified document Clinton stored on her private server as secretary of state. This was information provided by Israel, the nation's staunchest ally in the Middle East. The Russians could potentially share that same information with Iran, which happens to be Israel's most determined enemy. Yet Christie, almost predictably, remained resolutely on Team Trump, defending his 'friend' and occasional dining partner for the past 15 years with a lawyerly, hair-splitting argument." Read the report

-"New Jersey's delegation applauds naming of special counsel" Read the report

-"Here's what Christie would tell Trump if he offered him the FBI director's job," by NJ Advance Media's Matt Arco: "Not a chance. That's pretty much what Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday when asked if he'd accept an offer from President Donald Trump to head the FBI in the wake of the president's firing of former director James Comey. The governor insisted he has no interest in the job. 'No. I'm finishing out my term,' Christie responded to a reporter who asked the question a public event in Newark." Read the report

INAPPROPRIATIONS CHAIRMAN - "Ethics experts call Frelinghuysen's action 'an awful thing to do'," by NJ Advance Media's Jonathan D. Salant: "Even if Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen's decision to identify a member of an opposition group to her employer doesn't run afoul of any laws nor congressional ethics rules, experts questioned his actions. 'Not illegal but an awful thing to do,' said Richard W. Painter, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota and former chief ethics officer to President George W. Bush." Read the report

HE'LL NEVER BECOME EX-IM BANK PRESIDENT AT THIS RATE - "Gottheimer introduces bill on LGBT credit safeguards," by InsiderNJ's Max Pizarro: "In a sharp departure from his predecessor, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5) has introduced a bill to forbid lenders from discriminating against gay and transgender individuals. Gottheimer is the lead sponsor of the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act along with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). His predecessor in the 5th District, former Rep. Scott Garrett, earned notoriety in 2015 after Politico reported that he told Republican colleagues he was withholding contributions to the House GOP's lead fundraising committee because it backed gay candidates. Garrett is now President Trump's nominee to lead the U.S. Export-Import Bank." Read the report

HEARD HEARD LARSEN ISN'T RUNNING, HELPING HEARD STAND OUT FROM THE HERD - "CD7 Flashpoint: Republican Heard eying a 2018 run against lance," by InsiderNJ's Max Pizarro: "Craig Heard of Roxbury, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2016, is mulling another crack at the seat currently occupied by U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7). He'd run at Lance from the right, and has already drawn a bead on the Republican congressman's no vote on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 'I haven't made a final decision,' said Heard, a marketing consultant who last year came in a distant third in the GOP Primary behind perennial contender David Larsen. Heard said he learned that Larsen doesn't intend to run next year, and acknowledged being buoyed by the potential of a one on one showdown with Lance." Read the report

-"Assembly panel looks to ban pesticide OK'd be Trump administration" Read the report

LOCAL

HESPE AWARD - "Former state education chief takes job in Paterson," by The Paterson Press' Joe Malinconico: "New Jersey's former education commissioner, David Hespe, started working this month in the Paterson school district as a $94-per-hour, part-time special assistant, officials said. The state Education Department said Hespe would provide the Paterson district with "technical assistance," but officials did not elaborate on what specific duties the former commissioner would perform. State spokesman David Saenz Jr. said the Education Department - not the Paterson Board of Education - would pay Hespe's salary. The state did not disclose whether there is any limit on the number of hours Hespe would work per week, whether the deal sets a maximum amount that the former commissioner would be paid under the arrangement or how long he would be in Paterson." Read the report

STUDENTS NOT SURE WHY THEY'RE PROTESTING MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TEAM - "Lakewood students go to Trenton but can't protest in front of DOE building," by NJ Advance Media's Alex Napoliello: "A dozen yellow school buses made the 45-minute trip from Lakewood High School to an empty lot where Trenton Thunder fans park for baseball games. More than 350 Lakewood school students, armed with signs that read "No More Loans" and "Minority Students Have Rights Too," shuffled off the buses single file to protest what they say is inadequate funding from the state. The intended destination for the protest was the front of the state Department of Education building. But Sen. Robert Singer (R-Ocean) said there was a last-minute scramble after DOE officials told school administrators the landlord who owns the DOE building on Riverview Plaza received complaints from other tenants about the protests. As an alternate site, Singer said the district moved the students a mile away to the parking lot of the arena where the Thunder play baseball." Read the report

-"Lawmaker questions state loan to Lakewood school district," by POLITICO's Linh Tat: "One lawmaker is questioning the fairness of a decision by the state to loan the Lakewood school system $8.5 million when numerous other districts in New Jersey are also facing fiscal crises ...On Wednesday, during an Assembly budget hearing, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly asked state Treasurer Ford Scudder to justify the assistance to Lakewood, given that his home district of Paterson is facing a third straight year of massive layoffs while Ridgefield Park is looking at laying off some 70 staff members and communities like Bayonne are also dealing with fiscal woes. 'I just want to know how the administration could justify giving Lakewood $8.5 million to save these positions and these other cities, and I know I'm missing some, are going to be left to lay off not only teachers but staff members,' Wimberly said." Read the report

MAKE IT RAIN ON THE PARADE - "Ex-Aide says NJ pol fired him due to parade money demand," by Law360's Jeanine O'Sullivan: "A former legislative aide to a Newark, New Jersey, councilman has filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming he was the subject of retaliation and then terminated after refusing the politician's request for a $10,000 donation for an annual parade the aide oversaw.In a May 4 complaint filed in Essex County Superior Court, longtime employee Nelson Nieves alleges Councilman Luis A. Quintana badmouthed him, changed his work duties and tried to sabotage the city's Puerto Rican Day Parade after he couldn't come up with the funds " Read the report

JC - "Jersey City LGBTQ activist Michael Billy announces Ward E council run," by The Hudson County View's John Heinis: "Jersey City LGBTQ activist Michael "Billy" Bisogno has made it official that he will seeking the Ward E council seat in the November 7 municipal election ... 'I will continue to work for the expansion of business and promotion of diversity, while preserving our heritage and will work hard to earn the people's support in November,' Billy said in a statement ... Billy, 35, a broadcaster who has appeared on PBS, CNN, HLN and Showbiz Tonight, is well-known in the community for organizing rallies, such as a January protest against Trump's immigration order and a February event where many spoke out against Trump revoking transgender bathroom rules." Read the report

NOR WHEN HE HIRED SOMERSET DEM CHAIR AS THE CITY'S LAWYER - "Fulop did not act in 'bad faith' when he halted reval, lawyer says," by The Jersey Journal's Terrence T. McDonald: "Peg Schaffer, whose Bernardsville law firm was hired to represent the city in the breach-of-contract case filed by Realty Appraisal Co., argued that a lower-court judge erred when he ruled in the company's favor in April 2014 and said that Fulop had acted in bad faith in canceling the reval. 'If that's bad faith, then ... 251 mayors in the state of New Jersey have acted in bad faith in delaying revals,' Schaffer said today. 'And in Jersey City alone there were five mayors since the last reval. Not one of them thought the reval was a good idea, until Jerry Healy.'" Read the report

R.I.P. - "Eleanor Kieliszek, Teaneck's first female mayor, dies at 91" Read the report

-"New 'turnaround expert' picked to lead troubled N.J. college" Read the report

-"Barred from Paterson school board, now nominated for housing post" Read the report

-"Andover Twp. mayor tells N.J. Transit to get Cutoff on track" Read the report

-"Montclair BOE reorganizes, as district downsizes employees" Read the report

ODDS AND ENDS

THE LAW - "'American Gangster' prosecutor, partner charged with stealing from clients," by NJ Advance Media's S.P. Sullivan: "A former prosecutor whose takedown of Harlem heroin kingpin Frank Lucas was dramatized in the film 'American Gangster' now faces theft and conspiracy charges after state authorities accused him and his law partner of stealing from clients at their private practice. Richie Roberts and partner Gerald Saluti were indicted Wednesday on charges they misused more than $140,000 and then lied under oath to cover their tracks. Reached by phone, Roberts -- who pleaded guilty in federal court to tax crimes last month -- professed innocence and said he told state prosecutors he would gladly submit to a lie detector test. 'To satisfy the Star-Ledger and myself, I'll take a polygraph today,' he said." Read the report

GET THE MEOW OFF THE BEACH! - "Seaside boardwalk cats find new home at Jackson farm," by The Asbury Park Press' Jean Mikle: "They survived superstorm Sandy, a boardwalk fire, numerous nor'easters, several music festivals and a governing body that wanted them gone. Now, 74 cats that used to live under Seaside Heights' iconic boardwalk have given up the sand and surf for the dirt and green grass of farm life. 'We got all of the cats on the beach -- and a few others -- out of there,' said Ken Salerno, direct care manager for the Seaside Heights Animal Welfare Association." Read the report

-"TCNJ president recommends dropping segregationist's name from building" Read the report

-"Authorities probe fire at home of cop who slapped bunny-suited prankster" Read the report

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