He may have been New Jersey’s funniest governor
Jersey politicians say the darndest things; and sometimes, they're actually funny.
With a state as sarcastic as we are, you'd almost think that they'd have to be yet many are not. State Sen. Jon Bramnick, R-Union, is looking to change that.
Bramnick, also known as "New Jersey's Funniest Lawyer," who will be appearing Nov. 18 at Catch A Rising Star in the Princeton Hyatt Regency, came on my New Jersey 101.5 show.
"Well, you remember Ronald Reagan; they would ask him questions, and they would be really serious questions. And he would respond, like they said, 'Don't you take some blame as the president for the economy?' He said 'I do. I was a Democrat for a while.'"
"But my point is," says Bramnick, "that, you know, in the worst situation, if you can have a little bit of humor or comedy, you can take the temperature down. Not only that, it shows confidence that you can react with such confidence that you can actually be funny."
"So, you know, it's unfortunate, everything is us versus them. And once in a while, you can just kind of let loose and be funny. That's a big deal. People want to see that today. People don't want to just (be like), I hate them. They hate us entirely. That nonsense"
New Jersey once had a very funny politician, although you never would have thought that when Brendon Byrne was elected governor in 1974. During his 8 years in office and thereafter, he would come up with some very funny stuff. Here are some quotes taken from Rutgers.gov.edu:
“I want to be buried in Hudson County so that I can remain active in politics.”
“I knew I’d get re-elected when people started waving at me using all five fingers.”
“William Franklin, the illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin, was the last royal governor of the colony of New Jersey. Some people think he was only the first of a long line of bastards to hold the office.”
(Commenting on the pen that he used to make the income tax permanent in 1976) “It’s encased in Lucite. Thankfully, it is now too large to use for the purpose that many of my critics suggested I do with it.”
(Following a skit by State House reporters at the annual NJ Legislative Correspondents Club dinner suggesting that the governor couldn’t read beyond a fifth-grade level) “It is not true that I can only read at a fifth-grade level. I read out-of-state papers. too.”
During a Cabinet meeting in his last year in office, the governor remarked that several members of the Cabinet were reportedly considering becoming a candidate to succeed him in the 1981 gubernatorial election, commenting: “Gee, I must have made it look too easy!”
“A Hudson County politician is a guy who is born poor but honest, and spends a lifetime trying to overcome those habits.”
On his low level of popularity: “There was poll that showed 96% of the people knew who I was, and 4% thought I was doing a good job.”
Expressing frustration at negative media coverage: “You know I look out this window at the Delaware River and I figured if I walked across the water, the headlines next day would say ‘Byrne Can’t Swim.’”
“One time I argued a case before the State Supreme Court at which my mentor, Chief Justice Weintraub, gave me a particularly tough grilling and the Court ruled against me. Later, when I had a chance to talk to him privately, I said: ‘I don’t understand. I thought I did a pretty good job and you taught me everything I know.’ And he replied, ‘But I didn’t teach you everything that I know.’
“In the summer of ’77, I was running for re-election despite all the political advice that said I couldn’t win. Polls showed me down 17 points, and those were the good ones."
“I don’t understand people from Somerset County. They’re rich before they go into politics!”
“If you live in New Jersey, and you’re not getting something for nothing, you’re not getting your fair share.”
“One of the cardinal rules of New Jersey politics is, there’s no such thing as a private conversation. Somewhere along the line, you are going to be taped by someone wearing a wire. This is why so many political meetings start with a big bear hug – a New Jersey pat down among friends.”
“Remember that stuff they put in our food during World War II, to prevent us from getting excited about girls?” said Byrne at the dedication of a monument to New Jersey soldiers when he was 84 years of age. “It’s beginning to work.”
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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