According to "several sources familiar with the GOP campaign," financial consultant/ex-Goya Foods COO Andrew Unanue (R) "has dropped his bid" for the GOP nod "and has headed back to his vacation in Vail," giving his Cmte on Vacancies "the opportunity to replace him on the ballot." Bergen Co. GOP chair Rob Oritz: "Andy has let us know that he's been reexamining his business commitments and talking with his accountants and business partners. He has not made a decision, but wanted to keep us apprised so we have options available if he ultimately chooses to withdraw his name. He has not made decision...He understands the time constraints and will mae a decision very soon. Nobody has asked Andy to step down. The party leaders have always been and continue to be very supportive of his candidacy" (PolitickerNJ.com, 4/9).
Though "the deadline to file to run" for the seat has passed, '96 nominee/ex-Rep. Dick Zimmer (R) said 4/9 "he has told Republican officials who have contacted him that he is interested in running" for the GOP nod. Zimmer "said he has been approached in the last couple of days" by GOP members asking him if he would enter the race if any candidate dropped out. Zimmer: "I've had folks calling me and asking me whether I'd be interested. I told them if the party wants me to run, I will." Zimmer "would not say who called him or if he was contacted because a candidate is dropping out." Unanue's "committee on vacancies" would have until 4/16 to fill a vacancy (Rispoli, Gannett, 4/10).
More Zimmer: "I got some calls from some people pretty prominent in the party, just within the last couple of days...This is a pivotal time in American history. It would be an honor to help shape our policy...I have to emphasize, this has not happened yet...This depends on whether the pary leadership asks me to step in."
State Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R): "Dick is a very able guy...He was an able state senator, he was an able congressman, and I think he will be a very effective U.S. senator. he's been through this movie before and he has good fund-raising contacts" (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com, 4/10).
Meanwhile, '00 candidate/'97 Libertarian GOV nominee/Ramapo College prof. Murray Sabrin (R) "plans to continue fighting for the cause of limited government," according to spokesperson George Ajjan. And state Sen. Joe Pennacchio "issued a tongue-in-cheek statement" that he would drop out if GOP leaders "managed to exhume President Theodore Roosevelt, who died in 1919, and get him to run." Pennacchio: "I would not do it for anyone else except Teddy Roosevelt...He is a hero of mine, and the party leaders would finally get their wish" (Schwaneberg/Margolin, Newark Star-Ledger, 4/10).
And '06 nominee/state Senate Min. Leader Tom Kean (R) "says he won't enter the race" for the GOP nod, "citing his commitment to running the Senate Republican Caucus" (PolitickerNJ.com, 4/9).
The Stickiest Of The Icky
On the Dem side, as expected, "the Iraq war has emerged as a sticky issue" in the primary. Sen. Frank Lautenberg's (D) camp issued a release 4/9 citing a Philadelphia Inquirer story that ran 4/9, "saying that challenger Rep. Rob Andrews...misrepresented exactly when he turned into an opponent of the effort."
Andrews told the Inquirer that he first spoke out against the war in the summer of '04 at a speech at the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce. But Lautenberg's camp "dug up" a Nov. '05 interview with Gannett in which Andrews -- then a hopeful to be appointed to the Senate seat that ultimately went to Bob Menendez -- "appeared to still stand behind the invasion," saying "[The Iraq War] removed a risk the country could not afford to bear. The fact of the matter is Saddam had the capability to produce biological and chemical weapons. Waiting would not have worked" (Friedman, PolitickerNJ.com, 4/9).
While Lautenberg "also is on record for having supported the war" in '02, "he became a critic of the White House's war policy not long after returning to the Senate" in '03 (McArdle, Roll Call, 4/10).
Also, Andrews, asked about why his wife Camille is running for his House seat, "said the party leadership asked her to run, and he confirmed that those leaders will ultimately decide who should be the next" Dem candidate for the seat. The reason C. Andrews was chosen, "Andrews said, was because his surprise decision to challenge Lautenberg didn't give others enough time to consider whether to seek his seat."
Andrews: "There is a sense in New Jersey that our politics has become very closed circuit and the people are somehow left out. And the people want a choice." Andrews portrays himself "as the candidate who'll shake up the status quo" and offer "more substantive ideas, who has the drive and determination and the sense of urgency to get things done." Lautenberg's camp "scoffed at the notion that Andrews is a candidate of change" (Chebium, Cherry Hill Courier-Post, 4/10).
This article appears in the April 10, 2008 edition of Latest Edition.