Joe Biden’s low job approval ratings in the Garden State hasn’t stopped New Jerseyans from preferring a Congress controlled by the president’s party, according to a poll released Thursday.

In the Monmouth University Poll, 50% disapproved of Biden’s performance in office, while 45% approved. At the same time, 52% of respondents preferred Democratic majorities in the House and Senate or leaned that way, while 41% said they wanted Republicans in charge or leaned that way.

Patrick Murray Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said the Democrats’ 11-point advantage was similar to their 12-point edge at this time in 2020, when every incumbent was re-elected.


In fact, the House Republicans’ political arm wound up trying to win back only one of the four seats they had lost since 2016, the 7th District seat held by Democrat Tom Malinowski, who barely won re-election.

Both of the state’s Democratic U.S. senators were in positive territory. A majority, 53%, approved of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s performance in office, with 32% disapproving. U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez had 42% approval and 38% disapproval ratings.

But they were dissatisfied with Biden, who carried New Jersey by 16 points in 2020.

“New Jersey is fundamentally a blue state,” Murray said. “The fact that Biden is doing so poorly here suggests he has lost enthusiasm among core constituencies in his own base.”

New lines drawn by the state’s independent redistricting commission appeared to solidify the overwhelming Democratic advantage in the 12-member congressional delegation, which a decade ago was evenly divided.

Nine of the state’s 10 Democrats and both Republicans were strongly favored for re-election by the two Washington-based publications that track congressional races, the Cook Political Report and Inside Elections.

Only Malinowski is considered to be in jeopardy of losing his seat in 2022, even as the National Republican Congressional Committee named Bob Healey, a New Jersey yacht company co-founder running in the 3rd District to its list of potentially strong challengers, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added 5th Dist. Rep. Josh Gottheimer to its list of incumbents needing extra help for their re-election efforts.

After Gottheimer ousted Rep. Scott Garrett in 2016, Democrats captured four additional Republican-held House seats two years later after then-President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress enacted the tax law that disproportionately affected New Jersey and other high-tax states by capping the state and local deduction.

One of those freshman Democrats, 2nd Dist. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, switched to the Republican Party after voting against Trump’s first impeachment.

An appellate panel has rejected a property owner’s bid to vacate Jersey City’s $520,000 purchase of a Center Street parcel that the owner said is worth “at least $5 million.”

The undeveloped property in question, 34-36 Center St., was purchased by the city in 2019 as part of the 17-year-old Bates Avenue Redevelopment Plan. The property was sold for $520,000 in December 2021.

The appellate panel pointed out that the previous owner, MLS Realty LLC, failed to appeal a decision by three condemnation commissioners in May 2019 that set the value of the property at $520,000. The following month, the court entered a final order of disposition dismissing the matter.

The side-by-side lots sit between Brook and Bright streets Downtown, in the shadow of the Turnpike’s Newark Bay-Hudson County Extension. They were empty at the time, and were turned into a temporary dog run with fencing placed around the perimeter. Today the entire block, save for one home, is empty and apparently ready for construction.

In December 2020, more than a year later, MLS Realty moved to vacate the judgment of condemnation, arguing that its right to to receive just compensation for the taking of its property was violated. MLS contended that the $520,000 value submitted by the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency did not reflect the property’s “highest and best use” as required by the Supreme Court for the taking of private property.

The appellate panel noted that MLS Realty didn’t provide an appraisal, but rather “a certification from a company official, Ashraf Elshazly, purporting to value the property at $5 million.” In fact, MLS admitted it did not hired a professional appraiser, the ruling said.

“MLS offers no opinion as to some alternative ‘highest and best use.’ Nor does MLS provide one shred of evidence on how it determined that the value may be ten-times the Commissioners’ award,” the appellate ruling said.

The home improvement chain recently announced it will hire 1,160 workers, both full-time and part-time, throughout New Jersey to prepare for its busiest season of the year.

“These flexible positions will focus on customer service, filling online orders that are picked up curbside or in store, unpacking overnight freight and merchandising,” Home Depot spokeswoman Margaret Smith said.

Jobseekers can apply for positions on Home Depot’s website. Open positions vary by store.

The company currently operates 67 stores in New Jersey.

“The Home Depot wants to make it as easy as possible to apply and get an offer,” Smith said. “Through the company’s new, accelerated hiring process, applicants could receive an offer within one day of applying.”

The New Jersey gym owner who gained national attention in 2020 for defying COVID-19 restrictions informed police that he was running for Congress after he was arrested March 27 on charges of drunken driving in Cinnaminson, video released by police Thursday from the traffic stop shows.

“You know I’m a congressional candidate for this district, right?” Smith says while handcuffed in the back of a police cruiser, according to multiple dash and body camera videos of the traffic stop and arrest.

Smith was pulled over early on a Sunday. The dashcam from the police cruise shows Smith swerved out of his lane on Route 130 north multiple times, including nearly veering into another car before the officer pulled him over.

Smith told the officer he had one drink – a margarita – at a taco restaurant in a nearby town when he initially speaking with the officer and claimed that the suspension on his lifted pickup sometimes causes the vehicle to be difficult to control, according to the video. Smith later, after a several field sobriety tests, described the drink as a double margarita.

Smith, a co-owner of Atilis Gym in Bellmawr, is running for the Republican nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s 3rd District currently represented by Democrat Andy Kim. Smith did not return a call for comment.

A flood watch has been issued for 11 counties in New Jersey with rain expected to continue falling through Thursday night.

The National Weather Service says another 1.5 to 2.5 inches of rain is likely to drop leading to creeks, streams and other flood-prone locations possibly overspilling their banks. Urban and poor-drainage areas are also at risk for flooding until the watch expires at 2 a.m. Friday

It took effect at about noon in Camden, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, northwestern Burlington, Salem, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties.