Senator Menendez?The big news out of New Jersey politics came from a Washington Post blog that Congressman Bob Menendez cut short a vacation to Puerto Rico to meet with Governor-elected Jon Corzine. Rumors have been swirling since Corzine announced his gubernatorial run who would be the next Senator from New Jersey.
From the beginning the big name has been Menendez. He is the third ranking member in the House and highest ranking Hispanic in either house of Congress. He also has the biggest warchest of any of the Democratic Congresman in New Jersey with about $5 million in the bank.
So why hasn't Menendez been named yet? One word: CORRUPTION. Lest we forget, Corzine is only governor because corruption brought down previous governor Jim McGreevey and U.S. Attorney Chris Christie is the perennial favorite in any Republican race due to his tireless work in prosecuting and convicting crooked politicians. This all despite the fact that he has never run for, let alone win political office.
During the gubernatorial campaign, there was a secondary campaign between Democrats jockeying for position with Corzine. Six of the seven Democratic congressman wanted the seat and were tripping over themselves to do anything they could to help Corzine win. There are others in the running as well, including State Senator Nia Gil.
However, Menendez was always the front runner despite accusations of corruption from having an inappropriate relationship with a staffer and, then after she started her own lobbying, steering contracts her way. There are also accusations coming out of Menendez' own Hudson county of political corruption and doing anything to win.
Corzine has a tough choice ahead of him. Menendez is the only Democratic congressman in NJ with a statewide appeal and the money to run in this expensive state. Don't forget the election is less than a year away. However, Corzine is coming into office with the mantle of cleaning up New Jersey, so can he get away with appointing someone who might have some serious skeletons in his closet? Rumor is that a decision could come as soon as today. My bet is still on Menendez, because money trumps all in politics.
Food for Thought: Did Duke Cunningham's farewell speech remind anyone else of Torch's "When did we become such an unforgiving people?" speech? God you gotta love when these pompous asses get knocked down a few pegs.