Rep. Rob Andrews (D-01) "kicked off his campaign" officially 4/14, vowing to fight to get U.S. troops out of Iraq, to "stop the outsourcing of New Jersey jobs" and to provide health insurance for the 1M state residents who lack it. Andrews: "I've never seen a time in our country's history when a change is needed more urgently than today." Andrews "repeatedly invoked the need to bring new vigor" to Washington.
Andrews, asked whether Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) lacks the energy for another six-year term: "The voters will make that judgment." Andrews said he is prepared to campaign "full tilt, 24/7" to aid the Dem WH nominee and vowed to be "a vigorous advocate" for the party's platform.
Andrews: "This is an election, not a coronation... On June 3, Democrats in New Jersey will have a real choice -- a choice between the politics of the past and a new, progressive vision for the future. I represent a new generation of Democrats with the experience and enthusiasm to take our party -- and our country -- in a new direction" (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com, 4/14).
Andrews was surrounded by family members "as he answered questions at a State House news conference." Andrews spoke with "confidence and polish" but "at times his words seemed contradictory. At one point, "he suggested that voters weren't interested in endorsements, but he mentioned his backing from labor unions and a number of prominent" NJ elected officials (Young, Bergen Record, 4/15).
Andrews, who supports Hillary Clinton, "offered more praise" for Barack Obama, "again invoked vigor when saying the Senate nominee would be essentially a running mate" for the WH ticket. Andrews: "We can't afford a presidential campaign that's not full-tilt, around the clock, seven days a week up and down the state. And I think one of the things New Jersey voters are asking themselves is which candidate is better prepared to do that. I think I am." Andrews "said he is targeting young voters and talking with people about issues that affect their lives, such as the prospect of losing a job, rather than politics" (Volpe, Asbury Park Press, 4/15).
Andrews "also reiterated his call for seven debates with Lautenberg around the state. Lautenberg has said he would debate, just not when and where" (Burton, Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/15).
Very Distinguished, You Should See His Monocle
Meanwhile, nearly 200 supporters gathered at a fundraising event 4/14 for Lautenberg. In "an attempt to distinguish himself" from Andrews, Lautenberg and his supporters "were highly critical of Andrews' involvment in helping author legislation that allowed for the U.S. invasion of Iraq -- the key criticism Lautenberg's campaign has leveled" against Andrews.
Lautenberg: "The fact is he encouraged us to go to war. He was an enabler for the Bush policy to go ahead and attack Iraq." Lautenberg continually used the phrase "join me" in encouraging his supporters to side with his positions over Andrews'. Lautenberg wasn't in the Senate at the time of the war vote, but he said in the '02 campaign that he supported efforts to oust Saddam Hussein (Rispoli, Gannett, 4/15).
Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) also "spoke at the $500-per-head show of force" at the NJ Performing Arts Center. Lautenberg staffers "said the event is expected to raise" at least $200K for the campaign -- part of the $1M in fundraising commitments that Lautenberg has gotten since Andrews started his challenge. That's on top of the $4.3M he already had in the bank.
Lautenberg "had some questions" about NJ's "latest female congressional candidate: Camille Andrews, who is running as a placeholder for her husband" in NJ-01. Lautenberg: "Maybe (Rob Andrews) plans to lose the Senate run so he wants to know that he has another job waiting for him... It's outrageous when you think about it -- that he would ask his wife to take over to hold his seat even though he pretends that he won't run for the Congress." Lautenberg joked that he "didn't check" with R. Andrews "about the timing of the fundraiser, and his staff insisted that the timing was merely coincidental -- that an event of this scale couldn't have been put together over the weekend."
Lautenberg remains "non-commital on Andrews's call for a series" of debates. Lautenberg: "We're going to get the issues out, and the last thing we're going to debate is debates." He added that he'd consider a debate "in due time" (Friedman, PolitickerNJ.com, 4/14).
The Lautenberg camp also "took exception to Andrews's people describing the congressman's kickoff as an even reserved for family as opposed to politicians." Lautenberg spokesperson Julie Roginsky: "Camille Andrews is a politician." In turn, Andrews "repeated his promise to not reclaim his House seat should he fail" in the 6/3 primary. Andrews also "lashed out at the senator for trying to make Camille Andrews a campaign issue." Andrews: "It does say something odd about a 24-year incumbent senator who's talking about his opponent's wife" (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com, 4/14).
The Campaign Of The Southern Aggression
North and South Jersey "have long seemed divided." And now that a South Jersey Dem, Andrews, has decided to challenge a North Jersey incumbent, Lautenberg, the "old battle" between North and South Jersey "is brewing anew."
Fairleigh Dickinson prof. Peter Woolley: "This race is divisive because it brings out the factionalism that already exists within the Democratic Party." Lautenberg "has the support of much of the party's North Jersey political establishment," while Andrews "has been endorsed by much of South Jersey's political contingent." South Jersey "has sometimes complained of being big-footed by the more populous North." And Andrews seems to understand "he must woo supporters in the North" to be successful. Andrews "chose to deliver his first keynote address since announcing" in Newark, to an organization of Latinos, two groups he needs to court."
Andrews: "I don't think the campaign's about a north-south divide. I think it's about change vs. the status quo." Andrews' camp "notes he has been endorsed by northern party officials, from Middlesex, Union, Bergen, and Hudson counties" (Santi, AP, 4/14).
Oh, They Also GOP Candidates
In NJ, Lautenberg's "deep pockets -- as well as his well-oiled state and nationwide fundraising machine -- give him a huge initial advantage over both Andrews" and '96 nominee/ex-Rep. Dick Zimmer (R). Zimmer's "selection by state party leaders seems to be a shift in strategy" for the seat. The first two GOP frontrunners, millionaire businessman Andrew Unanue (R) and real estate developer Anne Evans Estabrook "were both personally wealthy, which was considered necessary in order to compete" against NJ Dems "in a cycle in which there is little national GOP money to go around."
With Zimmer, GOPers "don't have to spend money introducing him to voters and can bank on his established name recognition." GOP consultant Mark Campbell: "He's been a successful fundraiser in the past. He is very well known to the political establishment in New Jersey." Campbell "pointed out that gobs of money doesn't always equal massive amounts of votes" (McArdle, Roll Call, 4/15).
Zimmer was endorsed by Mercer Co. GOPers 4/14, by a vote of 25-5 (PolitickerNJ.com, 4/14).
This article appears in the April 15, 2008, edition of Latest Edition.