4.07.2008

Yet another stunner in New Jersey's Senate race

For a race that few people were paying any attention to as of last month, the New Jersey Senate race has seen quite a big of agitation over the past week. The filing deadline is tomorrow and the Republicans just received a huge blow today when the candidate they spent much of the past few days touting abruptly announced he would not run after all.

"Senate Republicans get two (rare) good news," I wrote just two days ago, referring to John Kennedy's strength in Louisiana and to businessman John Crowley's entering the New Jersey race. It only took 48 hours for Crowley to get out, with very little detail emerging as to led him to reverse himself: a friend cited "his tremendous level of responsibility to his family, his company and to the US Navy."

Remember, this is the second credible GOP candidate to unexpectedly drop out after Anne Estabrook suffered from health issues in early March. Now, the NRSC is back to the second-tier candidates they had accumulated before Crowley gave them hope a few days ago: state Senator Pennachio and businessman Unanue. Neither would present a strong threat to the Democratic nominee, which must be particularly frustrating for the GOP that was planning on taking advantage of Democratic divisions and the heated primary brewing between Sen. Launtenberg and Rep. Andrews.

This leaves the GOP with only one Senate seat they are challenging this cycle (Louisiana). That's a dramatically low number, particularly in an election year featuring Democratic incumbents from Arkansas, South Dakota and Montana. Even in 2006 the NRSC managed to play offense in a number of states, forcing Democrats to spend funds and worry about holding Minnesota, Washington, New Jersey and Maryland. The latter two especially stayed close to the end. This year, the NRSC looks to have basically given up on playing offense -- and will have to grown resigned to the fact that it should just buckle up and save whatever is salvageable to prevent Democrats from gaining too much ground. But there is no question that setting up a viable shot against New Jersey's weakening Launtenberg would have been a welcome development for Republicans.

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7 Comments:

  • The Crowley decision is really a shocker. He would have been a really tough candidate. I can only imagine there must be something hanging in his closet that he didn't want to come out - so to speak.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 07 April, 2008 08:45  

  • I don't think that Crowley was a top-tier candiate... not someone like Tom Kean Jr in the 06 NJ Senate Race. He was probably the best 2nd tier candiate the GOP had and was best positioned to take advantage of democratic splits because of a divisive primary. This setback means barring a incident which weakens Democrats considerably, the best the GOP can get is probably another 51-49 Senate, with Virginia and Lousiana switching party affliation.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 07 April, 2008 08:55  

  • I agree that the GOP keeping 49 seats is the best it could do, and even that is unlikely.

    Virginia is almost certain to flip. Shaheen has to be considered the favorite in New Hampshire at the moment. While Landrieu is vulnerable in Louisiana, that state's toss-up status is probably better than the status for Republican-held seats in Colorado, and New Mexico, while other Republican seats are also in play. It's just very unlikely that Dems will fail to win any of these Republican-held positions.

    It's still a long way to November, but I think the Democrats would probably get 53 seats as a minimum (maybe subtract one if you stop counting Lieberman).

    By Blogger dsimon, At 07 April, 2008 09:59  

  • "The Crowley decision is really a shocker. He would have been a really tough candidate. I can only imagine there must be something hanging in his closet that he didn't want to come out - so to speak."

    I think it's more a practical matter. He knows he would have to spend a lot of his money (New Jersey is an expensive media market) and he would only have a 40% chance to win, at the best of times. His odds of winning this year are minimal and perhaps 20 to 30%. He's smart enough to know that he could spend his money better.

    By Anonymous C.S.Strowbridge, At 07 April, 2008 11:21  

  • c.s.--very good points.

    And a good argument as to why we should have public campaign financing for all federal elections. Competition is good, and let the best candidate win in a fair fight. It doesn't help our democracy that so many people are driven out of the contests due to cost considerations.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 07 April, 2008 13:08  

  • cs strowbridge: Assuming your analysis is correct; why would he enter the contest in the first place? He must have known two days ago that the New Jersey campaign would be expensive and that his chances were at best 50-50. I still feel there is more to this story. anon 8:45

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 07 April, 2008 18:10  

  • "Assuming your analysis is correct; why would he enter the contest in the first place? He must have known two days ago that the New Jersey campaign would be expensive and that his chances were at best 50-50."

    Perhaps he got some poll numbers. Or perhaps he found out just how little the GOP were going to give him to run.

    By Anonymous C.S.Strowbridge, At 07 April, 2008 19:01  

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