New Jersey politicians return from annual ‘Walk to Washington’

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WASHINGTON -

Hundreds of New Jersey business leaders, lawmakers and politicians returned to the state Friday after participating in the Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Walk to Washington” networking event.

This was the 81st annual event, which allows New Jersey’s lawmakers to meet with prominent business leaders and lobbyists. State lawmakers say that the event let them push for the state on key issues like transportation infrastructure, while also allowing some candidates to take an opportunity to get their names out there.

New Jersey Democrats say that they are hoping to turn several House seats in their favor and use President Donald Trump's unpopularity in New Jersey to their advantage.

MORE: Watch Gov. Murphy's address.

Democrat Jim Keady says that he is looking to challenge the dean of the Congressional delegation, Republican Rep. Chris Smith in the 4th District.

“I’ve never seen anything like what we are seeing now in the 4th District,” Keady said. “We have overflowing town halls, packed Democratic club meetings.”

Gov. Phil Murphy doubled down on his promise for free community college tuition in his speech Thursday night. Republicans say that they are waiting to hear the governor’s plans to pay for that tuition in his budget address in two weeks.

“There’s not very much money to play with… a lot of it goes to health benefits, to death service, to things that are really locked in there that we don't have much discretion with,” said Republican Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz. “There's very little we can maneuver around, so it's going to be very interesting.”

Gov. Murphy also met with New Jersey’s Congressional delegation to discuss funding for the Gateway Tunnel Project. They say that New Jersey needs billions of dollars for the tunnel and that right now there is no alternate plan to that federal funding.

“This is probably one of the biggest pieces of my time investment, is getting this done,” said Sen. Cory Booker. “I have created such great relationships with Republican senators so we can get some of the gains we did while we are working so hard on this budget deal. We have no choice but to get this thing done as soon as possible.”

Gov. Murphy’s budget address will be held March 13.

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