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Hotline / NEW JERSEY

What's The Word, Word Up

April 11, 2008

Another day passed "with no word" from financial consultant/ex-Goya Foods COO Andrew Unanue (R) "on whether he is still running" for Senate. Meanwhile, state Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R) mgr. Dan Gallic said 4/10 "he plans to file a complaint questioning whether Unanue" swore "in good faith" that he was a serious candidate when he filed his nominating petitions 4/7.

Several GOP officials "have said Unanue is preparing to drop out of the race." '96 nominee/ex-Rep. Dick Zimmer (R) said 4/9 "he would run if asked." But "a ruling that Unanue was never a valid candidate would mean his campaign could not put up Zimmer or anyone else as a substitute." That would make the GOP nod a "two-man race between" Pennacchio and '00 candidate/'97 Libertarian GOV nominee/Ramapo College prof. Murray Sabrin (R). Repeated calls to Unanue's mgr. were not returned.

NJ election law expert John Carbone "said if Unanue was never a real candidate," no one can replace him, "but first you need that first domino to fall." He said that was "a very fact-sensitive issue that could fall either way." A challenge would be filed with the Sec/State, "who would probably refer the case to an administrative law judge" (Schwaneberg, Newark Star-Ledger, 4/11).

 

Gallic "cited press reports that Unanue had flown back" to Vail, CO, "where he kicked off his candidacy while on a family vacation two weeks ago, shortly after filing his candidacy" on 4/7. Gallic: "As we understand from the reports, he was already on the plane within 24 hours, raising significant issues as to whether he ever intended to run at all" (Friedman, PolitickerNJ.com, 4/10).

Unanue "reportedly signed papers ending his campaign" 4/10 from his vacation home in Vail. The papers would be filed 4/11 a.m., while his cmte on vacancies is expected to announce 4/11 that they have designated Zimmer to take his place on the ballot (PolitickerNJ.com, 4/10).

And, while Pennacchio won the Hunterdon Co. GOP convo in Feb., chair Henry Kuhl "plans to call a county committee meeting" for 4/16 "to vote on whether or not to change" the endorsement. Zimmer "owns a farm in the county." Kuhl "said that he plans to withhold his personal endorsement for a candidate until the meeting."

Pennacchio, "who until recently has hidden any frustration at the lack of establishment support for his candidacy behind a calm veneer and an appeal to talk about policy issues, couldn't avoid being irritated at the prospect of losing a county line." Pennacchio: "What do you do with the people that when we had a fair and square election on the county committee that night voted for me? Do we always have do-overs in elections? Is that what this party has degenerated to?...At some point the average person will see that the sense of fairness in the process is being circumvented...I don't have to answer to that because I've been fair and honest in my whole approach to the process, but some people might have to" (Friedman, PolitickerNJ.com, 4/10).

Response-abilities

Rep. Rob Andrews (D) "said he has so far heard no response from the campaign" of Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) "in response to his seven-debate challenge." Andrews: "I don't think he has an obligation to me...I think he has an obligation to the people of the state to do that, so we can have a real test of ideas and so we can see what people want to do."

Andrews visited Newark 4/10, which is in "a county where his North Jersey-born rival enjoys regional advantage." Andrews served as keynoter "on the occasion of the 31st annual luncheon of Aspira Inc." of NJ, "a chapter of a nationwide educational organization for young Latinos." Andrews: "We're going to be up here a lot" (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ.com, 4/10).

You Gotta Run Run Run Run Run, Take A Drag Or Two

Home News Tribune editorializes, when this page "says it is glad to see" that Andrews is running, it isn't an endorsement of the congressman himself. Rather, "take it as an endorsement of Andrews' right to run for the office, and of the plain fact that competition makes for better politicians and better politics." Many NJ Dems "don't view it the same way." But "perhaps the real reason for all of this hubbub" is "the knowledge that most" of the complainers on the fellow NJ House list who denounced Andrews' bid "have expressed an interest in replacing Lautenberg once he is gone" (4/11).

Philadelphia Inquirer writes, NJ "appears to be forging a new path for liberal public policy-making nationwide" -- paid family leave, the abolition of the death penalty, an apology for slavery. The Garden State "is one of only a handful to recognize civil unions for gay couples. The Legislature is debating universal health care, even in the midst of a debilitating fiscal crunch." NJ hasn't elected a GOP senator since '72, and no GOPer has been elected to statewide office since '97 (4/11).

This article appears in the April 14, 2008 edition of Latest Edition.

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