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The real nepo-babies of New Jersey

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FAMILY BUSINESS — It was almost a year ago that New York Magazine released a cover photo of “Hollywood’s nepo-baby boom” — an image illuminating how many celebrities got to where they were from their parents’ own fame.

But if that list tracked political nepo-babies and other close family relatives, New Jersey would fill an issue all by itself.

The Garden State has mastered the art of keeping politics in the family, as evidenced by a roster of politicians from prominent political New Jersey families. Two of the 12 members of Congress had fathers who served in Congress. GOP Rep. Tom Kean Jr.’s father was governor for two terms. Democratic Rep. Donald Norcross is the brother of one of the state’s most influential powerbrokers. And that’s just the House delegation.

The all-in-the-family nature of New Jersey politics — and its reform-resistant, antiquated political ways — are suddenly the talk of the state again, now that yet another family-connected candidate has the inside track for a prominent office.

With Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez seemingly unlikely to win reelection after a bribery indictment — his favorability ratings have cratered — his Senate seat has attracted prominent challengers from across the party, nepo-families included. First Lady Tammy Murphy announced her bid for the seat two weeks ago in the latest example of the Jersey machine in action.

The wife of Gov. Phil Murphy, Tammy Murphy has had a proactive policy agenda since her husband assumed the governor’s office in 2018, but has never held a position in government.

Her Senate run has already been met with frustration due to her familial connection with the governor. Much of that criticism is related to the peculiar New Jersey ballot design — known as “the line” — that many say greases the way to elect the same political names over and over.

Right now, Murphy is looking like a frontrunner. In the two weeks since Murphy announced her candidacy, endorsements from the state’s Democratic establishment have flooded in. She has already grabbed the support of six out of the nine Democrats in New Jersey’s House delegation — despite the fact that they currently serve with Democratic Rep. Andy Kim, a relative outsider who is also running for Menendez Senate seat. And Murphy’s got support from some of the state’s most influential Democratic county chairs — in another only-in New-Jersey phenomenon, county party chairs are unusually powerful.

One House member who is not supporting Murphy? Democratic Rep. Rob Menendez, the son of the embattled senator, whose pre-indictment influence all but anointed him into the House before voters even knew he was running.

The only New Jersey House Democrat not tied to a campaign already is Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, who said it is too early to make an endorsement. She said Kim or Murphy would both make great senators for the state, but called out New Jersey’s penchant for electing government officials who are on the friends and family plan.

“New Jersey has an infrastructure that has worked for New Jersey’s leadership,” Watson Coleman told Nightly. “But sometimes, options get foreclosed before voters can have their voice heard.”

Welcome to POLITICO Nightly. Reach out with news, tips and ideas at [email protected]. Or contact tonight’s author at [email protected] or on X (formerly known as Twitter) at @Reporter_Mia.

— Biden admin won’t impose conditions on Israel aid, officials say: President Joe Biden suggested that conditioning future military aid to Israel was a “worthwhile thought.” But days later, administration officials are shutting down any talk of that happening. Senior U.S. officials hit the Sunday shows to rule out the proposal, hinting — but not outright saying — there wouldn’t be a shift in the administration’s Israel policy. Now three U.S. officials say Biden won’t restrict support for Israel any time soon.

— Tuberville considers dropping some military holds ‘soon, but not today’: Tommy Tuberville said in an interview today he’s considering dropping his months-long holds on military promotions “soon, but not today.” The Alabama GOP senator said he and other Armed Services Committee members are “getting close” to a resolution and will be holding more meetings on the subject later today with Chair Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and other members of the panel.

— Arizona officials who refused to canvass election results are indicted by grand jury: Officials in a rural Arizona county who delayed canvassing the 2022 general election results have been criminally charged, the state’s top prosecutor said today. A grand jury in Maricopa County Superior Court has indicted Cochise County Supervisors Peggy Judd and Tom Crosby on one count each of conspiracy and interference of an election officer.

SWITCHING TEAMS — A former top aide to GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is leaving his campaign this week to join Donald Trump’s re-election effort, reports The Messenger.

Brian Swensen, Ramaswamy’s national political director, confirmed that he will take a new job working closely with Trump campaign senior adviser Susie Wiles in the upper echelon of the Trump campaign. Swensen directed further questions to the Trump and Ramaswamy campaigns. The move is a blow to Ramaswamy, who soared to prominence over the summer but has struggled to maintain his momentum in the Republican primary. Ramaswamy is polling at around 5% in support in the average of national Republican polling compiled by 538.

WALL STREET BETS — JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon urged Democrats to support Nikki Haley in the GOP presidential primary, arguing that she offers a strong alternative to former President Donald Trump, reports POLITICO.

“If you’re a very liberal Democrat, I urge you to help Nikki Haley, too. Give them a choice on the Republican side that might be better than Trump,” Dimon, who leads the country’s largest commercial bank, said onstage at the 2023 DealBook Summit today.

Dimon has been talking up Haley in recent weeks as the former South Carolina governor has gained in the polls. While she’s still trailing well behind Trump, she has won endorsements from an influential super PAC backed by the Koch network and has started to fundraise with Wall Street heavyweights.

When pressed if he’d support “anything but Trump,” Dimon pushed back. “I would never say. He might be the president, I have to live with that too,” he said.

DEAL WITH IT — Countries are poised to seal a hard-fought agreement on Thursday for the creation of an international fund to help communities rebuild from climate-driven calamities, giving the U.N. climate talks a win on their opening day, reports POLITICO.

The hosts of the summit, known as COP28, released a draft agreement today that would accept wholesale the recommendations a handful of countries adopted earlier this month. It includes a provision, demanded by the United States, that says all contributions to the fund are voluntary.

Five diplomats from European and African nations, who were granted anonymity to speak to POLITICO about the negotiations, said it was likely the draft deal would be adopted at the opening of the summit in Dubai.

Still to be decided: How much money the fund should contain and where the cash should come from. At this point, the draft “invites” developed countries to lead in providing financial resources to start up the fund. None have yet provided firm pledges.

A deal on the first day would remove a long-running point of conflict from the conference agenda. That, in turn, would allow delegates to focus talks on the root cause of the carnage: the burning of fossil fuels. It would be a positive sign for a conference facing headwinds from geopolitical upheaval, a bullish fossil fuel industry, and climate activists’ complaints that a major petro-state is hosting the gathering.

But that will take a final agreement between almost 200 countries gathered for the beginning of the two-week conference.

SHOT DOWN — A U.S. Navy warship sailing near the Bab el-Mandeb Strait shot down a drone launched from Yemen, a U.S. official said today, in the latest in a string of threats from Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, reports the Associated Press.

The official said according to initial reports, USS Carney, a Navy destroyer, deemed the drone — an Iranian-made KAS-04 — to be a threat and shot it down over water in the southern Red Sea as the ship was moving toward the strait. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a military operation not yet made public.

The shootdown today comes a day after an Iranian drone flew within 1,500 yards of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier as it was conducting flight operations in international waters in the Arabian Gulf.

COLOR WARS — Tyrian purple, also known as shellfish purple, was a dye that was the most expensive product in antiquity. The color shaped multiple empires — Cleopatra used it in the sails of her boat and some Roman emperors said that anyone wearing it other than them would be sentenced immediately to death. Now, at the edge of the Syrian desert, researchers have discovered a sample and are trying to recreate the color. For the BBC, Zaria Gorvett goes deep into the importance of the color, how it was lost in the first place and the efforts to bring Tyrian purple back.

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