October 1, 2002
JUST ONE MORE BITE AT THE APPLE....:Senator Torricelli Bows Out (NY Times, 10/01/02)
The task now is to find a way to give New Jersey's voters the choice they deserve.
Much of the speculation yesterday focused on the implications of Mr. Torricelli's decision for the New Jersey Democratic Party and for the balance of power in the United States Senate, where Democrats hold a one-vote margin. These are intriguing questions. But they are secondary to the larger issue of how to give New Jersey's voters a competitive race. Several things must happen to make that possible. The Democrats, led by Gov. James McGreevey, must move quickly to find a credible replacement. The courts must then expeditiously approve the ballot substitution, which in turn will clear the way for an energetic one-month campaign that, with Senator Torricelli out of the picture, can focus tightly on loftier issues than his seamy behavior.
In his emotional announcement, Mr. Torricelli said he would file a court petition to remove his name from the ballot and clear the way for another candidate, to be named in coming days from a short list being considered by Governor McGreevey. The Republicans are likely to argue that under New Jersey election law, it is too late to put another name on the ballot. But legal wrangling over ballot access cannot be allowed to obscure the central issue, which is one of democracy. The guiding principle should be the voters' basic right to a genuine election.
The guiding principle, as the Times would know if it had any principles, should be the law, which exists in order to prevent precisely this kind of gamesmanship. The idea that the Democrats should be allowed to benefit from the corruption of their own member is simply repulsive. Paul Wellstone, a bad Senator but a decent enough man, is headed to defeat in MN. Shouldn't the Democrats of MN get to have him resign so they can appoint a better candidate? Or are the Democrats of MN to be penalized because Mr. Wellstone isn't a thief and a liar? Suppose he were to take an illegal gratuity tomorrow and then resign? Would that improve the case for his replacement in the cocked eyes of the Times?
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 1, 2002 12:55 AM