Newark Star-Ledger's Heininger writes about the issue of age in 84-year-old Sen. Frank Lautenberg's Dem primary battle with 50-year-old Rep. Rob Andrews.
"Talking about age too forcefully could backfire" in NJ, where 1.1M people are over age 65, and seniors "make up a key voting bloc, particularly in primary elections," experts say. Voter turnout is the highest among people ages 65 to 80, then "tapers off in the octogenarian years," according to experts.
Polling "has shown" up to 61% of voters "believe Lautenberg is too old to effectively serve another term. When those responses are broken down by age, there is not always a clear trend."
Andrews "has criticized Lautenberg for running a "tired, negative, exhausted, status quo campaign," and said NJ needs a "vigorous, active senator." In an interview, Andrews "insists that's not code for over the hill." More: "What I was talking about were exhausted, failed tactics. That's practiced by people who are 30 years old and who are 90 years old." Lautenberg spokeswoman Julie Roginsky: "He's been extremely effective and has been no matter what age he's served" (5/5).
Revisions, Distortions And Speeches ... Oh My!
Meanwhile, Newark Star-Ledger's Schwaneberg writes about the debate over Iraq in the Dem primary. "Each accuses the other of trying to rewrite history. Lautenberg has repeatedly called on Andrews to 'come clean' about his efforts to promote the war; Andrews says the senator 'has chosen to distort his record.'"
"An examination" of their speeches, statements and votes "shows both Lautenberg and Andrews supported the invasion of Iraq when it took place. ... But both now want to bring the troops home as quickly as possible." But along the way "there were very real differences." Andrews "helped write and pass" the Iraq war resolution "and stood behind" Pres. Bush when he signed it. "Andrews was slower than the senator to publicly question the wisdom and human cost of the war." Later, he "detailed a proposal to replace American troops with Iraqi security forces." He says Lautenberg "has never done that."
Lautenberg: "I'm not going to give him credit for a political left turn. Don't infer we're on the same wavelength. Rob Andrews was a cheerleader for the invasion" (5/4).
"Rumble" In The Garden
Philadelphia Inquirer's Burton writes that the NJ SEN Dem primary "is becoming a party-wide rumble."
"The spectacle of public officials endorsing, un-endorsing and re-endorsing the candidates is a reflection of what's going on behind the scenes. The Andrews campaign has approached three operatives, who now have jobs in" NJ Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) admin., "to work for Andrews. Each declined, citing the political reality of ruining their careers if they worked for an out-of-favor candidate." One operative: "It would create conflicts for me. I can leave [the Corzine administration] but I can't come back."
"No one told him he'd be punished, it's just something a sharp operative understands."
"Conventional wisdom has been that a South Jersey candidate like Andrews would need the full support" of the Dem "establishment" in two of the state's three most populous Dem counties - Essex, Hudson and Bergen - to win a statewide race. "Andrews has none of them, but he does have pieces of their machines, enough to make him believe the race could be competitive" (5/5).
Zimming Right Along
Gannett Newspapers' Chebium profiles ex-Rep./'96 SEN nom/lobbyist Dick Zimmer (R), who "is running on a platform of cutting taxes, strengthening homeland security and withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq as soon as practical without resorting to the 'strict, mindless' timetable" most Dems seek. Zimmer: "When this opportunity came up, I realized that I could provide a stark choice to the incumbent senator. I am running because this is an enormous opportunity to help New Jersey get past some difficult times and to achieve a very bright future" (5/4).
This article appears in the May 5, 2008, edition of Latest Edition.