September 13, 2006


Jersey Turns, Dems Panic; Torricelli, Anyone? (Steve Kornacki, 9/18/06, NY Observer)

As with Mr. Torricelli, it is ethics that have dragged down Mr. Menendez, who won his appointment in part through the hefty political muscle he built as the reputed boss of Hudson County, a colorful collection of gritty towns that could easily have spawned just about every character Damon Runyon ever wrote about. The ghosts of his machine past have haunted Mr. Menendez in periodic news stories this year, and Republicans have made the notion that he has disqualifying “baggage” their central line of attack.

That is why the federal investigation is so damning for Mr. Menendez: The jury is already poisoned against him. Sure, he can cry foul and vow to fight. But the race was essentially a tie before this, so any fallout at all puts Mr. Kean in the lead.

Now, Mr. Menendez’s options are limited—and all bad. He began by attacking the prosecutor as overly partisan—a weak response given the dozens of corrupt Republicans who have been brought down by Christopher Christie, the U.S. Attorney leading the Menendez inquiry.

And his ongoing efforts to change the subject to national politics—as Mr. Torricelli sought to do in ’02—can now be trumped by Mr. Kean, who can lift a page from Mr. Forrester. “My name,” he can tell the masses, “is Tom Kean, and I’m running against a man who is the subject of a federal criminal investigation.”

If Mr. Menendez tanks in the coming weeks, it really will feel like 2002 all over again for national Democrats, who need a gain of six seats to win back the Senate—a feat that would be impossible with a loss in blue-state New Jersey.

We always used to keep Handi-Wipes on hand so that you could disinfect yourself after campaign trips to Hudson County.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 13, 2006 10:16 AM

It was unbelievable the Dems got away with the last minute switch in 2002. If they get away with it again then NJ is truly the most ridiculous state there is (barely beating Lousiana).

Posted by: AWW at September 13, 2006 10:38 AM

Hudson and Bergen counties were definitely corrupt back in the Democratic machine heydays, but at least they had a little subtilty to it. The current group of state Democrats show no shame whatsoever in changing the rules and candidates in midstream and expecting the voters to go along without a peep. They'll probably try it again if the Menendez case grows, but given the Kean family's name recognition in New Jersey and his dad's success as governor, I'd be shocked if they can go to the well twice with a last-minute candidate and make it work.

Posted by: John at September 13, 2006 10:51 AM

Well, they could just run the Torch (again).

Posted by: ratbert at September 13, 2006 5:41 PM

I'm surprised the Dhimmicrats haven't booted Menendez already. They know the guy, right? The coming indictment has been no secret, right?

I think what this means is that the well is empty: the Dhimmis don't have anyone to turn to in this race.

Posted by: Steve White at September 13, 2006 8:05 PM