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Alright, I caved in. Over the past week, most of PolliticsToday has been dedicated to coverage of New Jersey politics. Given my residency in the state, I feel like I know what’s going on a bit more than I do on other state races. With that being said, I started a new segment on here entitled “New Jersey Coverage” in which all New Jersey articles will be placed in.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s take an official look at the New Jersey Senate race. The filing deadline has come and gone for prospective candidates to turn in their signatures to get ballot access meaning that the race is now officially underway. Given how poor the Republican Party is in New Jersey, especially with Steve Lonegan (a Tea Party-esque dude) as its frontrunner; we don’t have to worry too much about them.
Also remember, not everything is Massachusetts ’10. Scott Brown wasn’t just “some guy”, he was well-connected in a state that had no problems electing some “moderate” Republicans as Governors. Just because we have a contested primary in New Jersey doesn’t equal that we’ll have a Democratic nominee that references Curt Schilling as a “New York Yankee”. Don’t sweat it too much.
- Cory Booker, Newark Mayor
- Rush Holt, U.S. Representative
- Frank Pallone, U.S. Representative
- Sheila Oliver, Speaker for the New Jersey General Assembly
Odds of Success
- Cory Booker is the charismatic, “superhero” Mayor of Newark. He enters the race as the odds-on favorite to not only win the primary but trounce whomever the Republican challenger will be. Booker has taken some flak for his very close ties to Wall Street however. Nonetheless, his status alone will ensure that he probably wins the seat.
- Rush Holt is probably the one who can take down Booker. Holt is the progressive Representative out of Hopewell Township and might be best known for being a scientist (more precisely a physicist). Holt is a known dogged campaigner and he’s got his own charm as well.
- Frank Pallone, as of now (but unlikely anymore), has the most money in his coffers with $3.7 million in the bank. Pallone needs to use all of that quickly to get his name out there and unfortunately, his time might have come and gone after not running in 2002. Pallone still is well-connected with local Democratic groups but he’s going to have to distinguish himself from Holt (and vice versa). He’s got the money right now so don’t count him out.
- Sheila Oliver is easily the wild card and the heavy, heavy, heavy underdog in this. She was the first female African-American to be the Speaker in the General Assembly but her success has been completely tied to the New Jersey political machine run by Joe DiVincenzo and George Norcross. However those two have endorsed Booker, which leads to some interesting questions. I have two conspiracies regarding that. One is that maybe DiVincenzo and Norcross want someone new and Oliver is trying to get away and stick it to them. The other is Oliver could there to help Booker out. Oliver, like Booker, has the stench of working alongside Chris Christie. But unlike Booker, she actually passed (as Speaker and the de facto leader of the Democrats in the Assembly) some of the initiatives that Democrats would typically be against regarding issues such as pension. Booker can easily now say “hey, I believe in working alongside the Governor; we need to get bipartisanship back into D.C. but at least I never helped Chris Christie get laws passed”. Its very shrewd and unfortunately, not out of place in New Jersey.
When it comes to the issues, remember Booker has yet to vote on most national or even statewide issues since he’s a Mayor. We can piece together some of his initiatives as Newark Mayor on some issues, others we have to rely on his word of mouth, and others we don’t know yet. On some issues, Oliver is in the same boat. Since they didn’t have to consider some of these issues, it shouldn’t be considered a shock.
Social Issues (Abortion, Marriage Equality):
- Cory Booker: Pro-marriage equality, can’t find anything regarding abortion views.
- Rush Holt: Pro-marriage equality, 100% pro-choice.
- Frank Pallone: Pro-marriage equality, 100% pro-choice.
- Sheila Oliver: Pro-marriage equality, pro-choice.
- Cory Booker: Nothing yet.
- Rush Holt: Voted No – Wrote op-ed announcing it as “high risk, no reward”
- Frank Pallone: Voted No
- Sheila Oliver: Nothing yet.
- Cory Booker: Pro-charter schools, called teacher tenure “poisonous”
- Rush Holt: Charter schools “should be an option” but shouldn’t “drain resources from public schools”.
- Frank Pallone: Voted against D.C. vouchers
- Sheila Oliver: Helped pass Christie bills, but also supports charter school reform
- Cory Booker: “Transition out of Afghanistan”
- Rush Holt: Voted No on Iraq; Yes on defunding of military presence in Afghanistan
- Frank Pallone: Voted No on Iraq; Yes on removing forces from Afghanistan
- Sheila Oliver: Nothing yet.
- Cory Booker: Can’t find anything regarding views.
- Rush Holt: Yes on ACA, co-sponsored bill to allow public options.
- Frank Pallone: Yes on ACA, supported public option in diary on Blue Jersey.
- Sheila Oliver: Can’t find anything regarding views.
- Cory Booker: Once advocate for banning all assault weapons, then unsure, now endorses Barbara Buono’s proposed gun measures.
- Rush Holt: Pro-gun control, got an F by the NRA, opposed many “pro-gun” bills.
- Frank Pallone: See, Holt.
- Sheila Oliver: Pro-gun control, supported limiting magazine sizes.
- Cory Booker: Hosted Twitter “townhall” regarding immigration, blasted Ted Cruz for being against pathway to citizenship.
- Rush Holt: Voted no on building a fence and on not reporting undocumented citizens who receive treatment at hospitals.
- Frank Pallone: Again, see Holt.
- Sheila Oliver: Sponsored bill to give undocumented immigrants who qualify for federal deferred-deportation action to obtain one-year “driving privilege access cards”.
Feel free to state other issues which you believe should be mentioned here, or if you have information; post it.
- Political bosses Joe DiVincenzo (who endorsed Chris Christie) and George Norcross
- Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley
- Current interim Senator Mo Cowan
None for the rest at last check.
*Sheila Oliver wasn’t tested in either of these polls but will be in future ones.
What Do They Mean?
- Name recognition is important and Booker is very well-known. Still, he will have some questions to answer and I’m curious how Pallone and Holt campaign against someone that likely has national ambitions as well. I don’t expect Booker to lose this at all but it would be good for him to be contested. If he is indeed a future national candidate, he’ll at least be battle tested. Regarding the unknowns surrounding Cory Booker’s stances on the Keystone XL and other issues, I encourage you all to tweet him. He seems like he would be receptive to that.
- If Pallone or Holt want to run, they certainly have to combine forces at some point sooner rather than later. They are very similar and will only hurt each other, rather than Booker.
- Oliver might eat away some support from Booker, but I doubt its anything consequential. Booker has North Jersey on lockdown, which would be Oliver’s area thanks to DiVincenzo but she has no real base.
That concludes our preview, but we’ll be providing more coverage as the summer wears on.
Suggested Reading: Why I Can’t Vote For Cory Booker In A Primary