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Grapevine: Cuomo is the one to watch

If you're a regular reader of Grapevine, you already know how New Jersey's business community feels about Bill de Blasio serving as New York City's 109th mayor.

Gone are the days of Bloomberg's business savvy, they hope. And moves like the one Forbes Media announced earlier this month — a plan to move their headquarters to Jersey City, along with 350 jobs — only stokes their fire.

But even the mayor of the world's most powerful city is still just a mayor. That's why it doesn't benefit New Jersey's business community to sleep on Gov. Andrew Cuomo, said one insider.

"The feeling that's out there right now is Cuomo is the one we've got to keep a watchful eye on," the insider said.

To be fair to de Blasio, the insider said, he's new and still has yet to leave any kind of definitive footprint on economic policy. Still, no one's really concerned that he'll prove to be much of a challenge, the insider said.

But with an agenda of corporate tax cuts and further incentives, Cuomo, a Democrat like de Blasio, "is looking to up the ante," the insider said.

"When you talk about New York regionally as opposed to New York City, I think Cuomo gets it," the insider said.

Genova Burns to open in D.C.

Genova Burns Giantomasi Webster already is a power player in New Jersey and at its borders. Now, the firm is expected to announce plans to expand to D.C.

The firm is going to open an office on Connecticut Avenue in the nation's capital. It will be headed by Mario V. Mirabelli, formerly of Patton Boggs, according to an insider familiar with the plans.

Genova Burns has four New Jersey offices — in Newark, Jersey City, Red Bank and Camden — in addition to two out-of-state locations in New York City and Philadelphia.

Christie plays defense

Go ahead and turn on MSNBC. There's a good chance something about New Jersey is being discussed at this very second.

The left-leaning cable news outlet has seemingly enjoyed the various scandals surrounding Gov. Chris Christie's administration in the past month, devoting countless nightly segments to them and giving airtime to what seems like just about every legislator in Trenton.

When Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer used MSNBC two weeks ago as a platform for putting forth her claim that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno threatened to withhold Sandy aid over a Christie-connected development deal, the governor went on the defensive against the network.

"MSNBC is a partisan network that has been openly hostile to Gov. Christie and almost gleeful in their efforts attacking him, even taking the unprecedented step of producing and airing a nearly three-minute attack ad against him this week," Christie spokesperson Colin Reed said in a statement last week.

Anyone who's followed Christie knows that prior to the scandal, he has enjoyed the taste of national media. Whether it be his publicly known friendship with MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, an exclusive CNN interview on election night or comically "slow jamming the news" with Jimmy Fallon on his late-night NBC show, Christie's been more effective at using the media, rather than stiff-arming it.

But as one insider puts it, in the wake of the scandals around him, this is one method that has been known to work.

"It's a tried-and-true strategy to go after those who are calling into question your credibility," the insider said.

And it might be necessary at this point, the insider said, given that state Democrats have finally found a weakness and are looking to attack at all costs. "The stakes are quite high," the insider said. "Democrats smell blood in the water."

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Tom Bergeron at tomb@njbiz.com.

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