by Paul R. Hollrah –
According to the Associated Press in a June 4, 2013 report, “(New Jersey) Gov. Chris Christie is perhaps the nation’s highest-profile Republican – but that’s no guarantee the seat held by the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg will switch to GOP hands.” The AP goes on to suggest, in an agonizingly twisted sort of logic, that,“In fact, it’s that profile that could help preserve the seat for the Democrats.” Huh?
As liberals and Democrats see things, “Christie has two key decisions: Whom to appoint to fill the seat in the short term, and when to let voters have their say on who will fill it until the term expires in January 2015. There are layers of political calculations involved, along with possible legal complications.”
Legal complications? What legal complications? Everyone knows that, when Democrats run into “legal complications” they simply shop for an unprincipled Democrat judge who will pat them on the head and assure them that everything will be alright.
According to the AP, Democrats reason that, “Christie, widely considered a possible presidential candidate for 2016, needs to decide whether to appoint someone who will merely keep the seat warm – or someone who will seek to keep it in the 2014 election. He also needs to decide whether a Democrat or a Republican is best suited for the seat… If Christie picks a Democrat, it may not play well with Republican presidential primary voters, who could see him as disloyal to his party. But if he picks a Republican, he risks upsetting voters who chose a Democrat for the seat, and a moderate Republican may not help him much with that group, either.”
But then the AP goes off onto some very thin ice, pointing out that, “New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972. And it hasn’t had one serve there at all since 1982, when Republican Governor Tom Kean appointed Republican Nicholas Brady to finish the term of Democrat Harrison Williams, who resigned amid scandal in the last year of his term. Lautenberg won the seat later that year and remained in the Senate until his death, except for a brief retirement in 2001 and 2002 (emphasis added).”
The AP fails to mention how Republicans have failed to win a Senate seat in New Jersey in the past forty-one years, and low-information voters may not recall how Frank Lautenberg managed to return to the Senate in January 2003 after retiring in January 2001. Allow me to refresh a few memories.
There once was a Democrat from New Jersey named Robert “The Torch” Torricelli. A former member of Congress, Torricelli was elected to the Senate in 1996, winning the seat vacated by former NBA basketball star Bill Bradley. However, during his campaign for reelection in 2002, it became known that Torricelli had been the recipient of expensive gifts and cash payments from a Korean businessman named David Chang.
Chang was owed a large sum of money by the North Korean government, to which he had shipped cargoes of wheat. And when he was not paid in full he sought help from Senator Torricelli.
Chang told prosecutors of delivering quantities of cash to Torricelli at his home in Englewood, New Jersey, along with expensive gifts such as a big screen TV, suits, ties, watches, and works of art. In return, Torricelli agreed to pressure the North Koreans to pay Chang the millions he was owed.
All of this became known during Torricelli’s 2002 reelection campaign. And when Chang was quoted in a WNBC news report as saying, “My mistake was I met Robert Torricelli. I do not consider him a Senator. I consider him a master criminal,” Torricelli’s poll numbers nosedived.
Finally, on September 30, 2002, just 36 days before the November election, Democrats could see the handwriting on the wall. Convinced that Torricelli would lose to his Republican challenger, Douglas Forrester, Democrats convinced “The Torch” to call it quits.
But that created a major problem for Democrats… one of those “layers of legal complications” that the AP referred to: New Jersey law prohibited candidates from withdrawing from a political race at any time within 51 days of the election. Even Democrats can count; their one-vote majority in the U.S. Senate hung precariously in the balance and they were already 15 days past the legal deadline for withdrawal.
But Democrats never allow a minor complication like the law to stand in their way. And when Republicans challenged the notion that Torricelli could withdraw from the race at that late date, Democrats just laughed. With a majority of Democrats on the State Supreme Court, they knew they wouldn’t have to do a lot of “judge-shopping.”
Democrats argued that decades of state court decisions put voters’ rights above filing deadlines and other “technical guidelines.” Putting partisan political considerations above the law, the Court agreed with the Democrats, saying that voters deserved the “broadest possible choice of candidates” and that there was “still time to print and distribute new ballots to absentee voters.” Other than that bit of political practicality, overruling the considered judgment of the peoples’ representatives, the high court did not explain its reasons for rejecting the GOP appeal.
Two prominent Democrats were mentioned as replacements. One of those, Congressman Frank Pallone, declined to enter the race, citing “family reasons.” He did not specify whether it was the Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, or Pallone family that he had in mind.
The other prominent Democrat mentioned was former senator Frank Lautenberg. And since Lautenberg had been standing around twiddling his thumbs since retiring from the Senate in January 2001, he was suddenly the “man of the hour” and Doug Forrester was the “odd man out.” New Jersey Democrats proceeded with the Torricelli-Lautenberg “shuffle” and Lautenberg soon found himself back in the United States Senate, seated alongside Democratic luminaries such as tax-cheat Tom Daschle (D-SD), Robert “KKK” Byrd (D-WV), “Searchlight” Harry Reid (D-NV), and his New Jersey colleague, Jon Corzine, who later had the misfortune of misplacing $1.6 billion in depositor funds as CEO of MF Global.
So, welcome to the Democrat meat-grinder, Doug Forrester. The Associated Press appears to have forgotten why New Jersey hasn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.
Among the most prominently mentioned Republicans who may run to fill Lautenberg’s unexpired term are State Senator Tom Kean, Jr., son of former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean; Congressman Chris Smith; and former Governor Christine Todd Whitman. And while the Associated Press and other liberal media see little chance of any Republican winning the seat, let us hope that they are underestimating the seething anger of the American people at the growing number of scandals in the Obama administration. There are lots of Democrats in New Jersey. Surely, some of them must be capable of putting love of country above love of party.
Political analysts say the list of Republican possibilities includes state Sen. Tom Kean Jr.; U.S. Rep. Chris Smith; former Gov. Christie Whitman; state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, who ran for the U.S. Senate last year; state Sen. Kevin O’Toole; or Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Another possibility could be Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, which would open a spot on Christie’s re-election bid ticket this fall for another Republican.
Despite the risks, Christie could consider appointing Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat who announced earlier this year plans to run for Lautenberg’s seat in 2014, said Brigid Harrison, a political scientist at Montclair State University. The move could backfire, she said, but it would help Christie’s image with New Jersey Democrats and African-Americans across the country – especially since history shows it’s hard for a Republican to win a Senate seat in New Jersey.
“For his own political future, it is not a bad gamble” for Christie, Harrison said. | June 7, 2013
We should all strive to remember Frank Lautenberg for what he was. R.I.P.