Tag Archive: Senate

Drawing a False Equivalence

In this day and age of he said/he said reporting, it’s all too common for reporters and pundits to draw false equivalences between candidates, declaring a pox on both of their houses. We’ve seen it most prominently of late in reference to Jack Abramoff, with reporters failing to draw a distinction between Republicans taking Abramoff’s money and Democrats taking money from the Indian tribes who Abramoff has worked for. It’s created a story where none previously existed.

Well, even though I think New Jersey’s reporters tend to be better than that (you know… home team bias), the same dynamic can be found in this morning’s Star Ledger editorial on the Senate race. The Ledger’s editorial board, in asking the two major party candidates to ‘try the high road,’ draws a clearly false equivalence between the conduct of the Kean and Menendez campaigns.

Getting Ready For Tonight’s Debate

(Join us tonight for a debate open thread, with commentary from Rep. Frank Pallone and Rep. Rush Holt.)

Yesterday’s televised debate between Senator Menendez and Tom Kean, Jr. exposed a massive gap between the two candidates. While the Senator displayed a strong command of the issues and the ability to discuss them, Kean, Jr. proved why people say he’s just too junior for Jersey. He stumbled over his words, froze up in front of the camera, and garbled his way through his well-rehearsed comments. It wasn’t pretty and, even though it might have worked for Bush, it wasn’t endearing.

And despite being very publicly smacked down by both the New York Times and Star Ledger for attempting to mount a Swift Boat attack on Menendez, he stupidly stuck to his talking points, spouting the same easily debunked ad hominem attacks. I guess for Kean, Jr., stay the course isn’t just for Iraq anymore.

Tonight, there’s another televised debate between the two, live at 8PM on NJN. Junior originally tried to weasel his way out of it, claiming a conflict with Senate business, but Majority Leader Dick Codey gave the kid a hall pass to go all the way across Trenton for the debate. Here’s hoping he’ll stay off of Route 1.

For those of you interested in watching outside of New Jersey — or for those of you addicted to your computer screens — you can stream it online.  The link can be found at NJN’s website, http://www.njn.net/newspublicaffairs/coverage/senatedebate06.html.

Here at Blue Jersey, there will be another open thread to discuss the debate, this time hosted by myself on behalf of the campaign. It should be a pretty fun forum, with two Blue Jersey favorites — Congressmen Rush Holt and Frank Pallone — joining us for some running commentary. Should be a fun night!

More Trouble for Tom Kean Jr.

I was wondering if anyone was going to step up and run on an anti-abortion slate against Tom Kean Jr. and Bob Menendez — both pro-choice — for US Senate.  From Inside Edge, it’s happened:

Among the seven Independents running for the United States Senate in 2006 is 77-year-old N. Leonard Smith, who is running as the “Solidarity, Defend Life” candidate. Smith is no newcomer to New Jersey politics: he served as a Camden County Freeholder in the early 1960’s and sought the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 1976 …

This is bad news for Junior, as the pro-life crowd might have held their nose and voted his way without the option.  But now they have a chance to make a statement with their vote, and they are pretty good at litmus test voting.

Menendez Primary Night Rally

It was a good week here at the Menendez campaign. On Thursday, we officially launched the campaign with events in both North and South Jersey and a blogger conference call in between. SJBrian posted an awesome diary here, recapping the Senator’s announcement speech, which was all about standing up to President Bush and the GOP Congress and standing up for New Jersey.

Menendez had stern words for those who would work hand in hand with the Bush administration when doing so would hurt New Jersey, referring to Republican opponent. Tom Kean, Jr., son of a former governor. He declared, “[M]y opponent supports George Bush’s war in Iraq and longs to be part of the status quo in Washington. I couldn’t disagree more. We need to change the direction of our nation and I will be an agent of change.”

And jmelli, who took part in the conference call despite a few technical set-backs, also posted on the conversation, writing about the Senator’s position on Iraq, his opposition to the right’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, and the importance of running a statewide campaign, inclusive of every county and region in the state.

We also launched our new website, Menendez2006.com, started moving into our new HQ in New Brunswick, and the Senator took part in a number of other events in the state. The most notable of those had to have been the appearances the Senator made with his colleague, Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

So to celebrate, please join us for a primary night rally at the Brunswick Hilton in East Brunswick on Tuesday, June 6, at 8:30pm. The event info is posted here at Blue Jersey as well as at our new campaign site, Menendez2006.com. I’m looking forward to seeing you all there!

Ethics Loopholes Reported in Trenton Times

The Trenton Times editorial of Tuesday, May 23 reports on ethics loopholes in the state law which allow candidates for federal office to accept campaign donations from casinos in New Jersey, even though this is forbidden to candidates for state office.  Why does this matter?  The Times names three candidates, State Senator Junior Kean, R-Westfield (running against Senator Menendez for Menendez’s US Senate seat), State Senator John Adler, D-Cherry Hill (who wants to run for US Senate in 2008 when Senator Lautenberg’s term expires), and Assembly Speaker Albio Sires, D-West New York (running for the House of Representatives for the post that Senator Menendez gave up).  All three have been soliciting funds from casinos for their federal campaigns and, if they lose in the federal elections, will still have been the beneficiaries of casino largesse while voting, at the state level, on laws affecting those casinos.

Kean a Longshot

Stuart Rothenberg of Roll Call (no link – paid subscription needed) delivered some Pyrrhic news to NJ Republicans today:

all things being equal, the GOP’s best chance for a Senate win is in New Jersey, where state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., the son of a former governor, is running on a message of reform against appointed Sen. Bob Menendez (D).

Both the national mood and the state’s bent favor the Democrats, but the state offers Republicans one of those “special circumstances” that could allow Kean to pull off an upset.

Wow – their “best chance” has both the “national mood” and the “state’s bent” against him?

Might as well say, “When Frosty the Snowman is elected dictator of Hell…”

Interesting Poll Numbers on Menendez, Kean Jr Race

(Cross-posted from MyDD.com)

Something many of us have long been assuming, that a decent number voters are confusing GOP Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr with his ex-Governor father, has been confirmed by the latest Eagleton Poll from Rutgers University. Menendez leads the poll overall, with 40% to 35% for Kean Jr among registered voters. Naturally, the numbers only get better for Menendez when you filter out the voters who have their Tom Keans mixed up.

The percentages of voters who think Tom Kean Jr served as Governor of New Jersey or was a member of the 9/11 Commission are 12% and 11%, respectively. When their preferences are removed from the results, Menendez’s lead goes up to 42% to 33%. And it’s not just the Kean confusion that skews the numbers. As the Eagleton press release notes, “[t]hose who were more knowledgeable about politics showed a very different pattern of responses than those who were less knowledgeable.”

Menendez’s lead of 36% to 34% among independent voters grows to 42% to 38% among the more knowledgeable independent voters. Voters give Kean a three-point edge, 31% to 28%, over Menendez in terms of being the candidate who would make the best decisions to protect New Jersey against a terrorist attack. However, the more knowledgeable voters give the advantage to Menendez by a margin of 39% to 33%.

“This poll suggests Kean gains from the voters’ lack of information and could be in trouble as voters become more familiar with the candidates,” Edelman said.

The terrorist attack numbers are quite interesting to me. Just under 700 New Jerseyans died on 9/11, so there’s a palpable sense here among some that another attack is just a real possibility, especially at Port Newark or at one of the New York/New Jersey crossings. Sen. Menendez has made port security a real priority, and people have been taking notice. Kean Jr’s done nothing but articulate rubber-stamp support for Bush’s stay the course non-plan of action.

But perhaps the most interesting set of numbers is the preference of male voters in the state. While Democrats traditionally do better among female voters and Republicans among men, the two are virtually tied among women, 37% to 36%. But Menendez has a significant lead, 43% to 34% among male voters. I’m not quite sure why this is. Off the top of my head, the only thing I can come up with is that Sen. Menendez is a guy from humble beginnings, while Kean Jr is a pampered prep school kid. But that’s just my gut impression and I don’t really know.

This is a really great poll chock full of interesting numbers on the Senate race. Finally, someone asked some of the questions I’ve been dying to learn the answers to. To my pleasant surprise, my assumptions have by and large been proven true. Though it’s early, I sense in this poll some indication that the numbers are going to keep trending in Menendez’s direction. Good news for New Jersey.

Menendez Backs Censure?

I’m not sure about this, but firedoglake posted today that New Jersey’s junior senator is backing Russ Feingold’s resolution censuring the President.

Laurie Kellman, Associated Press: 

Feingold introduced censure legislation Monday in the Senate, but not a single Democrat has embraced it.

What a lazy, dishonest hack job. John Kerry has been saying right out of the gate he would support the resolution, Boxer’s office has been confirming that she would and so has Menendez. And now Harkin (above) has signed on as a co-sponsor. Counting Feingold himself, that’s five.

If it’s true about Menendez, this is great news.  It doesn’t quite offset the Patriot Act vote, but together with his cloture vote on Alito it shows he is willing to stand strong against the national Republicans.

Is Tom Kean Jr. Already Overtaxed?

Tom Kean Jr. has been handed a lot in his time in politics.  Since being beaten by Mike Ferguson in the Republican primary in 2000, Kean Jr. was appointed to fill a vacant NJ Assembly seat, won an election and then appointed to a vacant NJ State Senate seat.  In each case, he had to be appointed to the seat before he could win it from the electorate.

Now Kean Jr. is running for the United States Senate, a seat that Bob Menendez was appointed to when Jon Corzine vacated it to become Governor.  The challenge appears to be pretty tough on the young State Senator, since Kean Jr. is giving up an important committee seat he holds as a State Senator to take an easier, less controversial gig.

With a U.S. Senate campaign to wage, state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R- Union) is giving up his seat on the powerful but time-consuming Senate budget committee for a spot on the judiciary committee.

Kean will trade seats with one of the major forces of the judiciary committee: Sen. William Gormley (R-Atlantic), who has served on that panel for 22 years and was once its high-profile chairman. …

  After Gov. Jon Corzine presents his budget March 21, the budget committee will hold nearly two months of hearings as other lawmakers take a break. The annual June budget scramble follows. Without his budget responsibilities, Kean will have more far time to devote to his statewide race against Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez.

The switch has other implications. Kean will be able to duck some politically dicey budget talks …

If Kean Jr. doesn’t think that he can do his job as a State Senator and run for the United States Senate then he should resign and campaign full-time.  But this halfway measure, giving up a plum assignment that can deliver resources directly to his constituents, in order to duck tough choices and hard work just shows he is already overtaxed and we haven’t even reached the primary yet.

Bob Menendez, on the other hand, accepted a tougher position by moving up from the House to the Senate.  Instead of representing 650,000 people in a small area of Northeast Jersey, he now represents 8,400,000 people in the entire state.