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Grapevine: Kyrillos eclipsed

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It wasn't just the Chris Christie photos with Barack Obama that rankled some in the GOP. A tipster said some New Jersey Republicans were dismayed that the governor did not have Joe Kyrillos at his side at every appearance leading up to and following Hurricane Sandy.

"It was not lost on them that when the president came in, Sen. Bob Menendez was at his side in every photo op," the source grumbled. Kyrillos, a longtime friend of the governor, was trying to unseat Menendez, a Democrat, from his U.S. Senate seat.

Others would point to the power of incumbency as the culprit. Menendez got to tag along as part of the senatorial duties of assessing New Jersey damage. Christie would have been accused of playing politics if Kyrillos, a state senator, played wingman.

And in the unending speculation about whether Christie will run for president, Garden State insiders were talking last week about how soon the governor would need to decide, especially if the first GOP primary ends up being winter 2015. One question being bandied about is whether Christie's embrace of Obama—and all the photos of it—will force the governor to start any presidential bid earlier to repair any damage his warm welcome of the Democrat may have caused.

Ballot barbs, kudos for LG

New Jersey politicos were chattering about Kim Guadagno's decision to allow residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy to vote by e-mail and fax.

Some felt the lieutenant governor, who also serves as secretary of state, bungled the situation, using dark humor to label it another "disaster." Heavy demand and technical glitches created problems as residents tried to vote electronically, prompting Guadagno to extend the electronic voting deadline to 8 p.m. Nov. 9. Critics focused most heavily on the extension, with some fearing residents could vote after Election Day already knowing the supposed outcome of the election, potentially altering close races.

Others praised Guadagno for her actions, taken when many polling places in storm-ravaged areas were inaccessible.

"She took ownership of this and exhibited leadership and did it in real time," said one Democrat. "I saw a measure of decisiveness and willingness to take risks that you don't see in government much."

Avison Young grows quickly

Fresh off its acquisition of The Walsh Co. last month, Avison Young appears to have stayed in growth mode as it hunts for other real estate firms in New Jersey, sources said.

Industry insiders say the Canadian brokerage is pursuing several smaller companies to acquire in the Garden State, though the names of any firms could not be obtained last week. Any successful acquisitions would continue Avison's aggressive expansion in recent months, going back to the opening of its first New York office in April and a New Jersey shop in September.

Avison Young declined to comment.

The Toronto-based firm announced Oct. 3 that it had acquired The Walsh Co., a Morristown-based project management firm that has a strong client list and is involved in many of the state's high-profile real estate projects. Less than two weeks earlier, Avison hired longtime CBRE executive Jeffrey Heller to run its New Jersey office.

Basel III could spice up banks

Hurricane Sandy could temper the impact of new bank capital rules, at least in the short run, according to a close watcher of the financial services industry. The proposed Basel III bank capital rules are supposed to be phased in by federal banking regulators from 2013 to 2018, and bankers fear the new rules will restrict the availability of some commercial loans, or make them more expensive.

But the source said "the Basel III rules will be in effect for a long period of time, while the impact of the storm is immediate." So despite Basel III, the source predicts banks "will try to do everything they can to lend in their local markets and help stimulate the recovery."

"In the near term, we definitely appreciate the focus that the banks will have on helping their customers recover from the storm. We think that will be their top priority—and it should be," the source said. "Basel III will be in the background, but the near-term focus will be helping communities get back on their feet and supporting the rebuilding effort."

Another silver lining: the demand for loans to rebuild after Sandy "may help the banks as well."

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Sharon Waters at sharonw@njbiz.com.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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