Jersey Democrats are in quite a bind. What do you do when the primary election is over, the deadline for a new candidate has passed, and your party’s Senate nominee is accused of fixing government contracts, promoting his girlfriend through his office and then boosting her lobbying career, and taking huge rent payments from groups for whom he had secured large government grants?
Why, the same thing you do when your candidate is accused of taking bribes in the form of cash, grandfather clocks, Italian suits and other goods. You replace him on the ballot with a fossilized former lawmaker. Then you win the election, and everyone’s happy for two more years and forgets about it by the next election.
At least, that’s my suggestion on how to save the Senate seat of Bob Menendez — and it’s been done before. But even better, my plan would let the Democrats keep the same two senators they have now. The voters won’t have any say in it, but hey, this is Jersey — everyone knows that the bosses, not the voters, rule the state.
In late 2002, I had the highly amusing experience of covering the re-election campaign of Sen. Robert Torricelli (D). As a cub reporter at Human Events, I even suffered the indignity of traveling to Newark (do you realize how hard it is to find a decent restaurant in that Hell-hole?) to go through all the court papers about his alleged bribe taking. “The Torch,” as he’s known, had allegedly received envelopes full of used greenbacks and gifts from a constituent who had business with the government of North Korea — the man in turn ratted him out once Torricelli turned on him.
After everything came to light and his poll numbers began sinking like a dead mobster, the state’s Democratic machine forced Torricelli out of the race, rendering my suffering in Newark futile. The New Jersey Supreme Court, the judicial wing of the state’s Democratic Party, allowed the Torch to be replaced on the ballot, despite the fact that the 51-day deadline for inserting a new candidate had already long passed. (Republicans tried something similar recently in Tom DeLay’s district, but it didn’t work. Out on the wild Texas frontier, there are rules.)
The Democrats’ choice to replace Torricelli was former Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), an undistinguished but very liberal old fellow who went on to win the election effortlessly.
So, now it’s 2006, and the only relevant difference between Menendez and Torricelli is that the latter has a cool nickname. So, if I may, I’ll try to remedy that: “The Mench” is now in trouble with at least three separate scandals (and perhaps one more to come before Election Day). He’s running between even and five points down against state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R), a moderate Republican who is son of a popular former governor. Kean has a high-pedigree political name, and the Republicans are putting a lot of money into this race. So, aside from rubbing him out, the Democrats’ best shot for beating him is to replace Menendez on the ballot with — Frank Lautenberg!
No, it’s not very original, I know. But who better to comfort New Jersey politicians than their senior senator, the state Democratic Party’s all-purpose, one-size-fits-all replacement candidate? Lautenberg can run for Menendez’s seat while still holding his own seat. When he wins, he can resign his Senate seat to take the other Senate seat, and Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine (himself the former senator who once held Menendez’s seat) can replace him by appointment.
And here’s the best part: who better to appoint to Lautenberg’s seat than Bob Menendez! That way, no one even has to change offices! And in two years, by the time Menendez is up for a special election, everyone will have forgotten — or at least we can find some other way to keep Democrats in office. It’s not like the voters are going to care.
If “The Mench” is too reluctant, perhaps Corzine could even appoint Jim McGreevey (D), the Gay American of Oprah fame who bravely admitted he happened to be the governor of New Jersey.
David Freddoso is a political reporter for Evans and Novak Inside Report
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | James Velasquez
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond