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New Jersey

Outlook: Toss-up


November 6, 2006 Update:

Sen. Bob Menendez (D) will defeat Tom Kean, Jr. (R). In our estimation, the race in the Garden State remains Republicans’ best opportunity to pick off a Democratic-held Senate seat, but that’s not saying much. The final week of a New Jersey campaign is Democratic machine turnout time, and every indication tells us that Menendez is poised to reap the benefits of Democrats’ organizational advantages in places like Essex, Hudson, Camden, and Union counties, even if his ethnic last name costs him some votes in other regions of the state.

September 7, 2006 Update:

Some recent polls showing Tom Kean, Jr. and Senator Bob Menendez tied caused us to wonder about our previous rating of Leans Democratic, and move this contest into the Toss-up category. While it may be that New Jersey has been too reliably Democratic for too long now to abandon even an appointed incumbent Democrat like Menendez, a great campaign by Kean and a lousy one by Menendez would produce an upset–although that remains to be seen.

June 7, 2006 Update:

As expected, Senator Bob Menendez is the Democratic nominee and Tom Kean, Jr. is the Republican nominee. Kean lost 25 percent of the primary vote to a little-known conservative challenger, which in a way, may help him to position himself as a moderate–which is the only chance any Republican has in New Jersey. Still, we believe Menendez is a slight favorite in the fall, as all Democrats are in the Garden State.

June 1, 2006 Update:

Surprisingly, this race is getting closer–not so much because Tom Kean, Jr. has managed to close the gap, but because Senator Bob Menendez‘s sponsor, Governor Jon Corzine, has proposed raising taxes in the Garden State. As Corzine’s popularity drops, so to does Menendez’s. We remain skeptical that any Republican can win in New Jersey these days, but we are prepared to be surprised.

March 27, 2006 Update:

Everything we have seen so far confirms our view that Democratic state of New Jersey is very likely to choose Democratic interim Senator Bob Menendez, despite all of his past and current problems. State Senator Tom Kean, Jr. had a great name for the 1980s–and it still has appeal–but it’s not enough to win in this Blue state.


Background

While still Governor-elect of New Jersey, then-Senator Jon Corzine appointed Congressman Robert Menendez as his Democratic successor in Washington, giving Menendez a year’s seniority before facing the voters in November. He will likely be challenged in the 2006 Democratic primary by Congressman Rob Andrews, while a former potential primary challenger, Congressman Frank Pallone has now endorsed Menendez.

On the Republican side, for once, there’s a glimmer of hope. The son of Governor Tom Kean (R, 1982-1990), state Senator Tom Kean, Jr., is going to run. Could young Kean be the GOP’s salvation, as his father once was? The last time New Jersey elected a Republican U.S. Senator was in 1972. That’s a long dry spell for any state.

Candidates

Robert Menendez (I) – Democrat – Second Quarter Raised: $2,587,708 | Cash on Hand: $7,392,277
Website

Tom Kean Jr. – Republican – Second Quarter Raised: $1,184,176 | Cash on Hand: $2,279,312
Website