The biggest upset in a congressional primary over the last decade came in the seventh district in 2000. The seat, considered one of the most competitive in the nation and was viewed as crucial to the Democrats bid to regain a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, opened up when four-term Republican Bob Franks left to run for the United States Senate.
Former Fanwood Mayor Maryanne Connelly challenged Franks in 1998 and lost 53%-44%. It was widely expected that Connelly get a second shot at Franks, and she had not stopped campaigning since her loss. But Union County Democrats declined to back her second House bid and instead endorsed Michael Lapolla, the county manager and a former Freeholder and First Assistant Prosecutor. Lapolla won early support from U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli, State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, and Democrat County Chair Charlotte DeFilippo. Connelly refused to back down and took on the party establishment, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which was backing Lapolla.
The race got some national attention when Lapolla ran a radio ad, “Who wants to be a Member of Congress?” where a female voice representing Connelly was portrayed as intellectually inferior. Connelly accused Lapolla of being sexist.
Connelly defeated Lapolla by just 127 votes, 14,152 to 14,125, with 2,627 votes for former Warren Township Committeeman Jeff Golkin and 520 votes for Westfield attorney Joel Farley. Lapolla carried the Union and Middlesex portions of the district, but Connelly was fueled by a 51%-11% win in Somerset. In the general election, Connelly lost to Republican Michael Ferguson.
It appears that controversial Superior Court Judge James Morley will not be reappointed: Gov. Christopher Christie submitted letters of intent to renominate most of the judges whose terms are up this summer, but the embattled Morley was not among them.
Morley, who sits in Burlington County, has been in trouble since last year for comments he made at the sentencing of a 45-year-old teacher's aide for having sex with a 16-year-old student and before dismissing animal cruelty charges against a former police officer for allegedly performing sex acts with calves.
During the sentencing of teacher's aide, Donna Goebel, Morley said "But for the defendant's status, there would be no crime here (because) the relationship was entirely consensual," according to the Courier-Post. He also noted that "It's possible she just wanted to be around someone who was nice to her and got caught up in something she shouldn't have."
Morley made national headlines when he threw out animal cruelty charges against suspended Moorestown Police Officer Robert Melia - who is facing much more serious charges of assaulting three young girls - because it was unclear if the sexual contact he engaged in with calves "tormented" or "puzzled" them.
"If the cow had the cognitive ability to form thought and speak, would it say, 'Where's the milk? I'm not getting any milk,'" he said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.Read More >
The Philadelphia Inquirer has endorsed the Rev. Dale Glading for the Republican nomination for Congress in New Jersey’s first district. In order to take his second shot at U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights), Glading must first win the four-candidate GOP primary; among his opponents are former Gloucester County GOP Chair Loran Oglesby and controversial ’09 Assembly candidate Lee Lucas. Andrews faces a primary challenge from a perennial candidate.
The Inquirer has also endorsed former Tabernacle Township Committeeman Justin Murphy for the Republican House nomination in District 3. Murphy, who ran a strong race in 2008, faces the choice of the Ocean, Burlington and Camden GOP organizations, former NFL star Jon Runyan. The winner will face freshman U.S. Rep. John Adler (D-Cherry Hill), who has the Inquirer’s support in his primary campaign against Barry Bendar, the Lacey Democratic Municipal Chairman who has criticized Adler’s vote against the Obama health care package.
U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-Ventnor) and Christopher Smith (R-Hamilton), both facing primary challenges, were also endorsed by the Inquirer.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker, re-elected last week to a second term, is still in Washington, D.C. He attended tonight's State Dinner honoring the president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón. Booker's office is strongly denying speculation that his meetings at the White House yesterday were related to any job search. Booker is due back in New Jersey tomorrow, and will head to Boston this weekend to be the commencement speaker at Suffolk University.Read More >
The defeat of Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Senate primary comes 32 years after New Jersey Republicans rejected Clifford Case’s bid for a fifth term, and 37 years after incumbent Gov. William Cahill lost the Republican primary. Case and Cahill are the only incumbents to lose primaries in New Jersey history; Case lost to Jeff Bell, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, 51%-49%, and Cahill was ousted by U.S. Rep. Charles Sandman (R-Cape May City), 58%-41%.
Others have faced serious primary challenges: U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights) took on incumbent Frank Lautenberg in the 2008 U.S. Senate primary, but lost 60%-40%; Gov. Brendan Byrne won renomination in 1973 with 30% of the vote against eleven challengers; and Harrison Williams beat then-State Sen. Frank Guarini (D-Jersey City) 66%-34% in the 1970 Democratic primary for U.S. Senator.
The last staffer to succeed his boss as a Congressman from New Jersey was Gordon Canfield, a Republican who spent seventeen years as the top aide to U.S. Rep. George Segar. Segar had been the Mayor of Passaic for eight years before winning an open House seat in 1920. Canfield, then 22-years-old, was a reporter working for a Passaic County daily newspaper; after the election, he took a job as Canfield’s secretary – that post is now known as Chief of Staff. Canfield worked for Segar until the congressman died in office in 1940. Segar had announced his retirement shortly before his death and endorsed Canfield as his successor. Canfield won the seat 59%-41% over Democrat Addison Rosencrans.
Canfield spent twenty years in Congress and only had one close call – he won re-election by just 148 votes in 1948 against Democrat Charles Joelson. When he retired in 1960, he helped his own aide, Walter Kennedy, secure the backing of the Passaic County Republican organization to run for the eighth district seat. Kennedy had spent twelve years on Canfield’s staff. The Democrats nominated Joelson, who had become the Paterson City Attorney and Deputy state Attorney General. Joelson beat Kennedy 52%-44% and went on to serve until his appointment as a Superior Court Judge in 1969. Bob Roe took his seat.
After the ’60 election, Kennedy went back to Washington as secretary to U.S. Rep. Bradford Morse, a Massachusetts Republican and a former Hill staffer. House Minority Leader (and ex-Speaker) Joseph Martin named him to serve as House Minority Clerk in 1965, and Minority Leader John Rhodes appointed him Minority Sergeant-At-Arms in 1975. He held that post until his retirement in 1993, after 44 years as a congressional aide.
Congratulations to former Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt, who today became the first Republican legislator to be convicted on state or federal corruption charges since State Sen. James Turner (R-Woodbury) planted drugs in the home of a Democratic Assemblyman in 1973. Overall, Van Pelt is the sixteenth legislator under the current State Constitution to be convicted or plead guilty to a crime committed while serving in the Legislature. Three others are currently awaiting trial, including Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone (D-Bayonne), who was re-elected last year, less than four months after his arrest.
A list of state legislators convicted on state or federal corruption charges, not including former legislators who were accused of a crime after their service in the Legislature had ended:
One week after winning re-election as Mayor of Union City by a 10-1 margin, State Sen. Brian Stack continues to impress the political elite as he mulls a bid for Hudson County Democratic Chairman. The county’s Democratic mayors showed up (except State Sen. Nicholas Sacco, who sent one of his North Bergen Commissioners in his stead), as well as Gov. Christopher Christie, Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen), Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise, and Michael Soliman, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’s State Director.Read More >
Rumors that Newark Mayor Cory Booker is interested in joining the Obama administration – possibly to replace Adolfo Carrión Jr., as the White House Office of Urban Affairs – prompts an explanation of the process to fill a vacancy should the unconfirmed speculation turn out to be accurate. If Booker were to leave office before September 13, there would be a special election in November 2010 to fill the remaining 44 months of his term. If he were to leave after that date, a May 2011 special election would be held. The City Council President would become the Mayor until the results of a special election are certified.
The prospect that Booker might decline to serve his second term – the one he just spent nearly $8 million to win last Tuesday with 59% of the vote – could create some last minute maneuvering in the race for City Council President. Right now the job belongs to Mildred Crump, but Donald Payne, Jr., re-elected last week as a Councilman-At-Large and also an Essex County Freeholder (as well as the son of a U.S. Congressman) is considered a leading candidate to get the job when the Council reorganizes on May 1. The Central Ward council seat is still undecided: incumbent Charles Bell and newcomer Darrin Sharif (the son of Booker’s mentor) will face off in a June runoff. None of the nine City Councilmembers would have to give up their seats to run in a hypothetical special election for mayor.
Gov. Chris Christie will head to New Hampshire on Wednesday to stump for GOP hopefuls Walt Havenstein (governor) and Scott Brown (U.S. Senate).Read More >
Stockton Poll: Christie approval rating at 53% in NJ; Obama's at 44% Gov. Chris Christie’s approval ratings in New Jersey crack 50%, while fewer voters approve of the job President Obama is doing, according to a Stockton Polling Institute poll released today. (Pizarro/PolitickerNJ) http://www.politickernj.com/81166/stockton-poll-christie-approval-rating-53-nj-obamas-44 NJ...
By MICHAEL W. KLEIN In his weekly radio address on August 16, President Obama challenged colleges “to do their part to bring down costs” and lighten the tuition burden on students. The state colleges and universities in New Jersey have... Read More >
"The Republican Governors Association raised $130,000 from tobacco companies during Christie’s stint as the group’s chairman, according to the most recent filings in June. The veto allows Christie to keep the peace with tobacco companies — and may very well prevent them from investing heavily in a presidential campaign for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, whose operatives could use the cash to finance attack ads against Christie in a tight primary contest." - columnist Charles Stile- The Bergen Record
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