Thursday, April 20, 2006

N.J. Senate Race, Seven Months Out

New Jersey’s senate race for 2006 is shaping up to be a bruiser, and possibly dominant political issues are already shaping up, including Gov. Corzine’s budget and its call for an increased sales, the environment, immigration (perhaps), and national security/Iraq. Tom Kean Jr., the presumptive Republican nominee, is barely making any stance on these issues unless it suits him politically. For example, he has decried Corzine’s call for a tax increase – it should be noted that Corzine has also called for cutting spending by billions in his budget – yet offers absolutely no alternative, nor did he try to stay on the state budget committee as a state senator (too risky!). Kean Jr. didn’t even bother to show up for an fundraising event for himself that Vice President Cheney attended; again, while he would take the hundreds of thousands raised, it is too much of a risk to be seen with a representative from the much-despised Bush administration. Kean Jr. is coming across as evasive in his beliefs and too calculated in his actions, a strategy that helped Kerry lose the 2004 presidential election.

The more that I find out about Sen. Bob Menendez, the more that I like him. Here is a pro-business, pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-sensible national security plan Democrat who is progressive in his political ideology and has already taken stands on the Dubai Ports Deal, even if a bit of posturing was involved. In South Jersey, a constituency he’ll have to win to be re-elected, he has come out against the misguided military proposal of dumping the VX nerve agent in the Delaware River. Perhaps most important, however, is that while a congressman he voted against Bush’s authorization to use force in Iraq, a very courageous stance at the time and one that has proven true since the invasion.

The elite and well-funded Republican senate committee will be throwing its weight and its conservative-funded donations behind Kean Jr., and Kean Jr. may have better name recognition because of his father, a former governor; hence, we should expect a fight for this seat in November. I support Menendez’s candidacy and hope that my fellow New Jersey citizens will do the same.


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