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Political exploration

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.
December 20, 2012 1:55:13 PM PST
You can get mental whiplash trying to follow the bizarre political developments in our area in the past 24 hours.

First, the head of the MTA - Joe Lhota (pronounced "Low-da") - yesterday says he'll resign by year's end. And then, oh-yeah, he says he'll decide by next month whether he'll run for Mayor of New York.

His announcement - within minutes of the MTA approving Lhota's plan to raise fares for buses and subways, and raising tolls on bridges and tunnels. Not exactly Chapter Two out of the How-Do-I-Get-Elected Playbook - raise fares on millions of commuters and then ask them for their vote for Mayor.

I'm just sayin'.

Lhota has never sought political office before - but of course that's no different than New York's last two mayors, Bloomberg and Giuliani.

And here you thought on-the-job training didn't exist!

The other political mind-bending note comes from New Jersey, where today Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced that he's going to "explore a run for the United States Senate" in 2014. There's only one U.S. Senate seat up for election in New Jersey in 2014, and that just happens to belong to Sen. Frank Lautenberg. He turns 89 next month, and, as far as I can tell, has given no indication about whether he will or will not run for re-election.

So lemme get this right - Sen. Lautenberg hasn't yet decided if he's going to run, but Mayor Booker is thinking about running for his seat?

There's apparently little love lost between the two men, but this seems filled with enough drama and political venom to fill a soap opera.

Booker's announcement ends any speculation that he would run against incumbent Gov. Christie - probably a smart move, if one were betting the odds as seen in the public opinion polls about Mr. Christie. But is this not-so-subtle move-over-Frank announcement going to have the effect of Sen. Lautenberg digging in his heels? You can imagine the bubble over his head, right? "No young whipper-snapper is going to push me out!"

As I said, you can get political whiplash. We'll have the latest on as-the-local-political-world-turns, tonight at 11.

Also at 11, Meteorologist Lee Goldberg says the morning commute figures to be a mess, as a big storm rushes in. His AccuWeather forecast will time it out.

And we're in Newtown, Connecticut again, where there were several funerals again. Our N.J. Burkett is there for us, at 11.

One funeral you probably won't see anywhere - because few knew it was happening - is the burial of the killer's mother, Nancy Champion Lanza, who was her son Adam's first victim. He was reportedly alone for a couple of days while his mom was on a brief trip. She came home - and then was killed by a rifle she bought, a rifle she taught him to use.

We don't know if her other son, Ryan, or her ex-husband, Peter, went to the funeral, at an undisclosed location in New Hampshire.

She's inarguably a complicated but central figure in this massacre, having home-schooled her troubled son, and overseeing a family situation that was, at best, disturbing. Adam's brother and father hadn't seen him since 2010. That's not a good sign, from anyone's perch.

Meanwhile, our Jim Dolan takes a closer look at the gun debate that's been sparked because of the Sandy Hook Elementary School killings. Will we finally get a handle on this out-of-control situation, and can the government really regulate firearms, when possessing them is a perceived Constitutional right, and there are so many weapons out there - an estimated 300 million?

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight.

BILL RITTER

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