What's Happening in the Garden State
New Jersey: As much as he hates fundraising, Frank Lautenberg is doing what it takes to run for re-election, with several fundraisers down and several more planned. Regarding a possible challenger to Lautenberg, the Philadelphia Inquirer notes:
The most well-known likely Republican candidate, U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, took himself out of the running last month, signaling other Republicans they could start exploring a run.Regarding a Lautenberg opponent, The Inside Edge adds:
U.S. Rep. Frank A. LoBiondo, a South Jersey Republican, seems unlikely to run, though he has been mentioned on the short list of possible candidates. But Bill Baroni, a moderate GOP assemblyman who keeps winning in a Democratic-leaning Mercer County district, is paying attention to party leaders who have asked him to at least think about it.
Warren County Republican Assemblyman Mike Dougherty, a conservative, also is thinking about the possibilities.
Although many in the Republican Party believe their 2006 Senate candidate, Thomas H. Kean Jr., has a bright future, he took such a thrashing last year that he is not considered a contender this time.
Anne Evans Estabrook, a 63-year-old millionaire real estate developer from Summit, is mulling a bid for the 2008 Republican U.S. Senate nomination. Her interest in the race against Frank Lautenberg is a signal that State Senator Thomas Kean, Jr., the '06 nominee, will not run next year. Estabrook has longtime ties to the Kean family, and spent more than twenty years as a Director of the Elizabethtown Water Co. She is a former Chairman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, and a member of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority under Governor Christie Whitman.While I have commented that I still expect a Lautenberg retirement given his age and relatively low approval ratings (which ultimately didn't hurt Bob Menendez in his 2006 bid), the fundraising efforts suggest that he is definitely planning on re-election. We'll see in the coming weeks and months how a GOP primary might shape up, and whether a GOP primary would help or hurt the eventual GOP candidate.
Two GOP legislators are also considering a challenge to Lautenberg: Assemblyman Bill Baroni, a pro-life, pro-labor law professor who has won twice in a highly competitive Mercer/Middlesex district, and Michael Doherty, a three-term Assemblyman from Warren County and a former Freeholder who is one of the state's most conservative legislators.