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I will give another update of the New Jersey Senate race that has quickly approaching.  Following the passing of longtime Sen. Frank Lautenberg, there was a vacancy for the seat that would be in 2014 and Chris Christie appointed long-time ally and AG Jeffrey Chiesa to temporarily fill the seat.  Chiesa will not run in the special election that will be held on October 26th.

The Democratic primary though is the one that’s making all the news and for good reason.  The presence of four fairly big-name politicians, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker who is well-known nationally, and the lack of a Republican Party presence in the state (partly due to New Jersey’s very blue hue) has amplified the importance of winning the primary.

So let’s take a look at what the field has been doing as of late.

Cory Booker

Booker has had it fairly easy thus far and that’s no surprise given his mammoth name recognition and Twitter presence.  Booker has continued doing what he does best which is shake hands, make speeches and talk to constituents.  He has also started to clarify his positions on some topics that he hasn’t talked about before including environmental issues.  Granted, quick 100 character responses aren’t earth-shattering but he seems to be keeping in-line with the progressive view on some topics.

Booker has also received some criticism for his support of education privatization and his close ties to Wall Street.  That being said, he is clearly the major frontrunner and he raised an eye-popping $4.6 million this quarter as well as getting the endorsements of Essex, Bergen, Hudson and Passaic counties which is key given how much of the population of the state is clustered up there.

Still, if you are a betting man; Booker seems like the man as he is also the only candidate that’s on the airwaves with two commercials.

Rush Holt

Holt’s campaign, which I have endorsed in case you have missed it earlier, has largely focused on one thing: the grassroots.  Holt will not be able to outraise or outendorse Cory Booker so he has tried to close the gap by trying to run an effective ground campaign which does seem to be working.

Holt’s campaign definitely seems to be the most “fun” so far and he is actually holding a contest to have supporters help create his next bumper sticker which is a cool, interactive way to drum up support.  Holt has also not received the high profile endorsements that Booker has received but his website has given exposure to New Jersey citizens who have written letters of endorsement for him.  If anything, Holt will have people who will not leave his side until all the votes are counted which is something that is always a plus for any politician to have.

Holt has received the endorsement of the Plainsboro Democrats as has the Princeton Democratic club.

Sheila Oliver

Sheila Oliver is the only woman in the race and given how she is the Speaker of the General Assembly, you would figure that she would be fighting pretty hard for some votes.  Well, that has not been the case as Oliver just joined Twitter the other day and hasn’t appeared to really do any significant campaigning.

I still wonder what the point of her announcing her candidacy if she wasn’t going to do any campaigning.  Its not like she’s some backbench state representative, she’s the SPEAKER of the General Assembly.  That’s a pretty big deal.

Frank Pallone

Last but not least, is Rep. Frank Pallone who has been trying to ding up Cory Booker the most but to little avail.  Pallone has also received the endorsement of the Lautenberg family who has not exactly been warm to Booker since he announced that he was going to primary the longtime Sen. (before Lautenberg announced he would retire at the conclusion of his term) which some saw as Booker stepping on Lautenberg’s toes.

Pallone is likely the only person who can fundraise even remotely similar to Booker and he does have a decent legislative record to back himself up on.  Still, Booker has the entire support of the Democratic machine and if Pallone is going to make any inroads; he’s going to have to really go after Booker and more importantly, get on TV.

Polling

Quinnipiac Poll:  Booker: 52%, Pallone: 10%, Holt: 8%, Oliver: 3%

This is about what to expect, Pallone and Holt are both probably splitting the vote and it would be ideal for both of them to see the other drop out of the race and endorse them. Still, Booker has been hovering at about 50% and Pallone/Holt have been in the low double-digits/high single digits.

Debates

Booker has agreed to participate in two debates, one on TV and the other on radio, in the week before the August primary.  It makes the most sense for him to do that as odds are Holt and Pallone will be best suited for a debate format and will be on the offensive against him.  It kind of defeats the idea that Booker is fearless but to his credit, he accepted the debate invitations and given his status as the frontrunner a debate is more likely to hurt than help him.

Pulse of the Race

This is Booker’s to lose.  All Booker has to do is keep doing what he is doing and he will be looking very good.  His main problem could be a low turnout, if people just assume Booker will win; they are less likely to vote for him than if they felt like he was challenged.

Holt needs to outsprint everyone in the field.  He has a very dedicated team around him and he has gone through some tough elections in the past before, so he has some experience when it comes to campaigning.  Still, he needs to get the word out about his candidacy and quick.

Oliver needs to do something.

Pallone has to get on TV.  Pallone has been a Congressman for quite some time but is unknown outside of the shore.  He really has to attack this race if he wants it because this is likely his last chance at a promotion to the U.S. Senate.

Countdown To Primary

31 Days To Go

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