« NJ-Sen: Menendez Looks Set to Replace Corzine | Main | Patent Law Final Today »

Thursday, December 08, 2005

NJ-Sen: Don't Do It, Rob

Posted by DavidNYC

Oh man. No sooner than Jon Corzine announces (or pre-announces) his selection of Bob Menendez to succeed him in the Senate, we get this:

Democratic Rep. Rob Andrews of Camden County, who also lobbied actively for the appointment, has said he would run for the Senate regardless of Corzine's decision.

Dude... come on. I mean, I'm often in favor of primaries, but this is not the place or the time. Running against Menendez will necessarily turn into a nasty mud fight. To do so, Andrews would have to say Menendez isn't a worthy candidate - and by extension, Corzine was wrong to pick him. It would get real ugly real fast.

Apparently, Andrews is worried that Frank Lautenberg will seek re-election in 2008. Now, I love Frank, but in fairness, he's gonna be 84 in 2008. While I have no problem supporting an octogenarian senator in a place like West Virginia, where we have a thin-to-non-existent bench, 2008 really will be the time for Lautenberg to step aside and let some of the young turks move up in the world.

Of course, consider the source of the Lautenberg rumor: Andrews himself. This could just be a bit of excuse-making. Regardless, it would make a hell of a lot more sense to challenge Lautenberg in a primary a few years from now. I wouldn't enjoy seeing that kind of fight, either (with inevitable attacks on Lautenberg for being too old - man, I pray I look that good when I'm in my 80s!), but I'd rather defer it a couple of years.

While I said yesterday that Menendez wasn't my first choice, I think that now is the time for some party unity - to accept Corzine's decision and get behind Menendez for what will probably be a bruising fight against Bill McKay Tom Kean. If Andrews gets into the race, there's almost no way I'd be able to support him.

UPDATE: On reconsideration, I think my assessment of WV's Dem bench was unfair. Still, on balance, I'm more willing to risk an open seat in NJ than an open seat in WV if it offers a rising star a chance to move up in the world.

Posted at 03:10 PM in 2006 Elections - Senate, New Jersey | Technorati

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:


"thin-to-nonexistant" Democratic bench in WV? Now... I know we're having rough times on a Federal level in that state, but is this really accurate? Aren't there TONS of elected Democrats in WV on a state level? Shit, we've got a Governor (Manchin) there who I believe is the shoe-in for the nomination once Byrd retires (let's hope it's retirement that ends his career). Surely there are lots of other popular local Dems who'd do well for Senate, too.

Posted by: HellofaSandwich [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 04:23 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Lautenberg is running. A recent fundraiser for his 2008 campaign raised him $200,000. Primary? Bring it on. Corzine was wrong to pick him and there's nothing wrong with calling it out.

Posted by: jmelli [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 05:08 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Is there a compelling reason to support Rob Andrews over Frank Lautenberg?

Has Andrews recanted his previous statements about Saddam Hussein's "Weapons of Mass Death"?

Posted by: RBH [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 05:23 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

No and no.

Posted by: jmelli [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 05:54 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

"Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.

After much thought and with deep conviction, I rise in strong support of this resolution. There is no task more grave or serious than the task of putting at risk the lives of people. The decision we are about to make will in fact put at risk the lives of the young patriots who wear the uniform of this country so well and so proudly. And it will put at risk innocent lives of people in Iraq who deserve better.

I support this resolution because it will save lives. It will manifest the principled purpose of this country to use our great might and power as a force for saving life. Tonight Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi Government maintain an arsenal of weapons of mass death. Iraq tonight possesses biological weapons. It possesses chemical weapons. The best estimate of the most optimistic observers, in 5 to 7 years Iraq will possess nuclear weapons. Others are more pessimistic. They believe it will be a matter of months.

I believe that failure to act is the greatest risk to innocent life in this country, in Iraq, and around the world. There are principled and patriotic people in this debate, many of my friends who take a different position than I do. I respect their patriotism. I listen carefully to their views, but I must say I disagree with what they have to say. Some say Iraq will not use these weapons of mass death because the leader of Iraq, although evil, is not suicidal.

I share with the President the conviction that I am not willing to risk the lives of any Americans or any people anywhere on a prediction on the behavior of Saddam Hussein. There are others who argue that although Saddam Hussein possesses these weapons of mass death, he cannot use them against us because he cannot deliver them against us. This is not the case.

Tonight American troops are within the range of his missiles, and perhaps even more importantly, we are all within reach of the use of these weapons through unconventional means: anthrax sprayed by crop dusters, sarin gas pumped through our subway system, smallpox virus dumped into the heating or air conditioning system of a shopping mall or an office building.

Anyone who believes that we are beyond the reach of terrorist weapons has missed the lessons in the last 13 months in America. There are those that argue that we should wait for the United Nations Security Council to agree with our assessment of the compelling need to remove this risk. I support and encourage the President and his administration to seek that support from the United Nations.

But Madam Speaker, make no mistake about it, these weapons of mass death are not pointed at the Germans who doubt the scope of this risk. They are not pointed at Saddam's Arab neighbors who scoff at the necessity of this mission. These weapons of mass death are meant to kill Americans, and we will not and should not ask anyone's permission to defend the people of this country.

There are those who say that we should give weapons inspections another chance. The gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Saxton) laid out chapter and verse just how many chances we have already given. On 13 occasions since the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Iraq has violated the weapons inspection agreements. After each such occasion, they promised the next time to comply. The next time never comes.

We should heed the advice of four dozen U.N. weapons inspectors who told this Congress and this country on the record that there will never be effective disarmament of the Iraqi arsenal of mass death until there is a government in Baghdad that fully cooperates with that effort.

We hear others say that we should not proceed because what follows Saddam Hussein in Iraq might be worse, that it will cause disruption around that area of the world. This is not a matter that we should take lightly. However, there is nothing worse than a despot with weapons of mass death that can be used against the people of this country.

Madam Speaker, throughout history Members of this body have faced moments when they have to change history. Our predecessors during the American Revolution had their moment, and they chose to rebel and create independence for this country.

Our predecessors at the time of the Civil War had the painful choice of waging war to keep the Union whole. They had their moment, and they rose to the occasion. Our predecessors in the 1940s had their moment when they had to die to frontally take on the evil of Nazi Germany and its allies around the world, and they rose to the occasion.

Madam Speaker, this is our moment. This is the moment when we will begin to change history toward a path where there is liberation, liberation of the people of Iraq from tyranny and liberation of the people of America and the rest of the world from the fear of terror. Let us seize our moment, Republicans and Democrats together, and vote for this resolution."

-- Rob Andrews, House floor, 10/8/2002

Andrews voted for the IWR and Menendez voted against it.

I'm sure tapes of that speech exist, because that is just filled with numerous debunked claims and Republican talking points.

Posted by: RBH [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 07:06 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Sandwich: You're right. I was probably pretty unfair in my assessment of WV. But WV is less-friendly territory than NJ - Byrd is almost a sure thing, while an open seat is a real risk. In NJ, while not exactly safe, I'm more willing to take the risk of an open seat to see a younger politician move up the ranks.

Jmelli: I'm working from the assumption that a nasty primary would be a waste of resources AND, more importantly, hurt our chances of keeping that senate seat. I realize you think Menendez was a bad choice. But is risking control of the seat worth "rectifying" that bad choice? That's the question that needs to be answered. If you don't think a big primary fight between Andrews and Menendez would jeopardize our chances of keeping the seat, I'd like to hear why you think so.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 07:10 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

When it comes to replacing Byrd, i'm not sure that Manchin would run in 2012. For one thing, he would be 65 at that time, and he might just want to go home after two terms as Governor.

Callaghan might be a candidate if he can beat Capito. And this is a total random guess.. Robert Kiss seems relatively young and important (48 right now, WV House Speaker)

If Manchin runs, he'll have a pretty good chance too. But that's far in the future.

Posted by: RBH [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 08:27 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Rob Andrews is respected not only be Democrats, but Republicans alike. Although Menendez will probably defeat Kean in a Democratic leaning state, Andrews is a better bet against Kean, JR.

In addition, NJ is a state that has been mirred in corruption over the past several years. Consider the corruption and ethical problems rocking Washington simultaneously, and you will find Ethics/Corruption to become one of the most important issues in the campaign.

Menendez is extremely vulnerable here...and his status as a party Boss, a man who peddled contracts to friends and allies and perhaps violated House Ethics rules will be bogged down in such debates.

Grant it, Andrews voted for the war. I vehemently opposed the war--and it was the only reason I supported Governor Dean.

BUT, let's not forget many, many Democrats voted for the war. We have moved beyond that vote--a vote that was a mistake. But the question now is what will we do differently? And what are our solutions?

Menendez as the 3rd ranking member of the house has been an ineffective leader at best. Democrats in the house lack a message and coherency. Not only has Menendez been incapable of unifying Democrats, or coming up with a strategy to win votes on the floor, his failed leadership has cost us on key issues.

Posted by: jersey dem [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 09:14 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I appreciate all the arguments for and against Menendez and Andrews. But they're sorta beside the point. I'm positing two very simple points:

1) A primary fight between Menendez and Andrews diminishes our ability to hold this seat.

2) Even if Andrews would make a materially better senator than Menendez, an attempt to replace Menendez with Andrews (via a primary fight) is not worth the added risks such a primary fight would bring - namely, see point #1.

If you disagree with point #1 - that a nasty, brutal, ugly primary won't hurt our chances in the fall - I'd like to hear precisely why you are so sanguine.

If you agree with point #1 but disagree with point #2 - that Andrews would be such an enormous upgrade over Menendez that it would be worth the risk of a nasty primary - then I'd like to hear why you think it's worth the risk. (These questions, btw, are directed at everyone, not any one person in particular.)

Rebutting point #2 is, in fairness, pretty difficult - if you think Andrews would make the greatest senator of all time and that Menedez would be awful, that's gonna mostly be based on personal preferences, not empirical evidence.

But I'm willing to be a little (not very, but a little) open-minded on point #1. If you can offer up a good, well-reasoned argument that a Dem senate primary would not be a) a monstrous waste of resources and b) would not help Tom Kean win, then I'm all ears.

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 10:01 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I'll disagree with your first premise--that a primary fight between Andrews and Menendez diminishes our ability to hold the seat. here's why.

a. Although I don't believe NJ is a "progressive" state--it's very moderate in nature, Democrats hold an impressive advantage when it comes to winning Federal races. Voter registration, GOTV operations, Interest groups, and Bush's low popularity will help Democrats retain the seat. Democrats hold an inherent advantage when it comes to turning out the vote.

b. Corzine and Florio had a nasty primary battle in 2000, and it didn't prevent Corzine from winning in the General election.

c. A primary will only increase Menendez's name ID in South Jersey and make him a global candidate. Likewise, it'll introduce Andrews to North Jersey and the NY tv market. Granted, their negative will go up, but according to Rasmussen poll released today, Menendez's negative are already almost as high as his positives.

d. Democrats will eventually unite and get behind the Democratic nominee--and better to have a battle tested champion, as oppossed to a soft, unchallanged dwarf.

2. Now to disagree with your second point. I do believe that Andrews would make a better Senator, and for the long run, it's a great advantage for Democrats on a national scale. Menendez has been unable to lead in the House as the Caucus leader and will be just as ineffective as a Senator.

Will Andrews go on to become best Senator of all time? Let's give him the opportunity and find out.

If Montana, Minnesotta, Ohio, Rhode Island and other such states can endure bloody primary battles, then surely, a Blue state like NJ can handle it.

Whoever wins the primary will win the general.

Posted by: jersey dem [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 8, 2005 11:12 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Jersey dem: Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I still feel there are negatives to primary that outweigh the positives, so we will have to agree to disagree. :)

Posted by: DavidNYC [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 9, 2005 12:07 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

JerseyDem -- I'm not sure if Democrats in Montana, Minnesota, Ohio, or Rhode Island can survive a bloody primary battle so easily. In each of those cases, we're facing formidable opposition, where the party must be unified and motivated going into the general election.

That said, sometimes primary battles are inevitable. My guess is everyone here has been involved on the winning and losing side of these contests. Let's just hope (and yes, I know I'm probably sounding naive here) that they all will be contested in a way that realizes the real prize is won in November, and not before that. Senator Menendez or Senator Andrews sounds better than Senator Kean. Senator Hackett or Senator Brown (or Senator Ham Fucking Sandwich, for that matter) sounds better than Senator Dewine.

Posted by: IndianaProgressive [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 9, 2005 12:44 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

to disagree. Even Rush Holt would have been a better pick than Menendez.

Posted by: jersey dem [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 9, 2005 02:58 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I'm definetely hoping for a primary, but definetely not with Rob Andrews. I'm hoping Frank Pallone stays in the race, makes a challenge to Menendez, campaigns on the lines of being "Free of corruption", wins the primary and wins the general (with ease).

Having Menendez (or Andrews) as a major candidate for 2006 sorta destroys our idea of being the party of clean politics. Having Pallone instead would not only produce a more progressive Senator and have a better hold among independents vs. Kean, but he'd also follow the "Clean Politics" message.

Damnit Corzine! I personally think what he should do now is appoint a caretaker - I take that he's not too happy that they leaked Menendez's name.

Posted by: KainIIIC [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 9, 2005 04:04 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

In a fight between Andrews and Menendez, it would be very nasty indeed. Both would accuse the other of being too cozy with their respective machines and it would be similar to the Forrester/Corzine mudslinging. But Rush Holt is squeeky clean and a leader on good government type reforms. The contrast would be blinding. I'm not sure how they could attack him, except perhaps on their policy differences, though I would guess Democratic primary voters would tend to side with Holt in that regard. I don't think it would be easy for Holt to win, but if he did, I doubt he would be too damaged by a primary. Holt could definitely win a state-wide race. He would appeal not only to progressives, but also to independents, since particularly the ones demanding government reform.

Posted by: jmelli [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 10, 2005 09:35 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment