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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

NJ-07: Ferguson Gets a Challenger

Posted by DavidNYC

Seems like this is the week for luck number 7. Sharen Neuhardt looks poised to jump into Ohio's 7th CD race, while Joe Tricarico has actually gone and taken the plunge in New Jersey's 7th. He'll face Republican incumbent Mike Ferguson.

Tricarico is a one-time mayor of Hillsborough, NJ. He's currently a health-care official with the state and used to have a private dental practice. (He's also got a JD - man, how did he have the time?) I personally think it's fantastic when people with real-world healthcare experience run for office. There's no question that Howard Dean had unusual insight into healthcare matters thanks to being an MD - and that he was taken more seriously as a result. (How many times have you read news stories which take Bill Frist's opinion into heightened consideration because he is "the only physician in the Senate"? A lot, I'll bet.)

This district will be a major uphill battle, though - don't doubt it. Ferguson won 57-41 last time out, and 58-41 in 2002. However, Ferguson won very narrowly his first time up, in 2000 - just 50-48. And it's a pretty evenly split district - it went for Bush over Gore by just 49-48, even accounting for the fact that it became less Dem after the most recent round of redistricting.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention one additional arrow in our quiver: The excellent blog Dump Mike, which I think you can gather from the name is devoted solely to escorting Mike Ferguson out of office. In my opinion, any new blog these days, if it wants to succeed, needs to have a niche - the more clearly defined, the better. As such, I think Dump Mike will be an invaluable resource for following this race - and alerting us to activism opportunities (just as the OH-02 blog was for Hackett).

I look forward to following this race and learning more about Tricarico, especially since it's not too far from my own stomping grounds of NYC.

Posted at 10:39 PM in 2006 Elections - House | Technorati


My impression is that none of the prior Democratic candidates for this seat have been particularly good, so I don't think Ferguson is necessarily ultra-popular. This seems like a Santorum situation - a wingnut representing a swing constituency.

I think even the conservatives in this district are probably not thrilled by the current brand of theocrats running the country, meaning districts like these are where we can expect to make the pickups in 2006. There's no reason this one shouldn't be competitive as long as we put up a good candidate.

Posted by: Steve M [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 21, 2005 11:36 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The reason this seat is now a 57+% seat is because Ferguson and Holt essentially traded towns in after the 2000 census to protect both seats. Ferguson doesn't represent what could be moderately considered a swing constitutency--he represents an extremely Republican area of New Jersey, stretching through the middle, around Cranford and west to the Pennsylvania border. The thing about New Jersey Congress seats is that 1) Presidential vote tallies are not good indicators, and 2) incumbents, like in the rest of the country, rarely go down in elections. The last person to do it was Holt, and he was in a swing district against a first-term incumbent who made a very public ass out of himself. Not to say Ferguson couldn't, with a good wind and enough money, be knocked out, but the amount of money it would require means this seat (as well as other frrequently targeted NJ seats, such as NJ-5) mean it would probably come at the expense of other important races.

A lot of the NJ Republican seats will eventually come into play, simply through demographic shifts. However, even those demographic shifts will require people like Smith, LoBiondo, and Saxton to retire, since their inertia will carry them to safe victories in their current districts.

Ultimately, the only way the Democrats are going to take some of these seats would be through an aggressive gerrymander that redistricted one or two of the Republican Congressmen into the same district, and ignoring the ethical problems with such a plan, it would be almost impossible to get such a plan instituted by the redistricting authority (New Jersey's legislature isn't in charge of redistricting, it's a 3-3 partisan panel with the tiebreaker appointed by the governor, and historically, that tiebreaker seems to side with the party out of power).

Posted by: sucopsucoh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 23, 2005 09:55 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment