Daily Kos
Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | September 30, 2002

Toricelli calling it quits?

Toricelli may quit his race. He'll announce his decision later today. But the fact this leaked would indicate he will decide to quit. It'd be stupid to hold a press conference to announce "Yup. I'm still running."

What does this mean?

If Torricelli resigned his seat, New Jersey's Democratic Gov. James McGreevey could appoint his replacement. While the deadline for being listed on the New Jersey ballot passed earlier this month, that deadline might be waived, although it could take a court ruling, a Democratic source said.

Speculation on a possible replacement for Torricelli jumped immediately from Democratic Reps. Robert Menendez or Frank Pallone Jr., or former Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Expect the GOP fight the ballot issue tooth and nail, and I wouldn't blame them. It's obviously in their best interest to have Toricelli's sullied name all over that ballot, not Lautenberg or Menendez (both of whom would be great alternatives). If the courts must decide, hopefully they will do so quickly.

Update: Check out this paragraph:

Under state law, if a candidate resigns his office or dies with more than 30 days to the election, the governor can appoint a new candidate. If it happens with less than 30 days before the election, the race can be canceled and the governor can set a new date for a special election.
It seems hard to believe, but it appears that if a candidate resigns office with less than 30 days left before the election, the governor can appoint a new candidate, cancel the election, and reschedule two years down the road. The relevant statute, written in convoluted legalese, says:
NJ State Law.19:3-26. Vacancies in United States senate; election to fill; temporary appointment by governor

If a vacancy shall happen in the representation of this state in the United States senate, it shall be filled at the general election next succeeding the happening thereof, unless such vacancy shall happen within thirty days next preceding such election, in which case it shall be filled by election at the second succeeding general election, unless the governor of this state shall deem it advisable to call a special election therefor, which he is authorized hereby to do. The governor of this state may make a temporary appointment of a senator of the United States from this state whenever a vacancy shall occur by reason of any cause other than the expiration of the term; and such appointee shall serve as such senator until a special election or general election shall have been held pursuant to law and the board of state canvassers can deliver to his successor a certificate of election. [Emphasis mine]

If the law does, indeed, allow the governor (who is a Democrat) to appoint a successor and postpone the election for two years, it would be a huge victory for the Democratics. They would save their most vulnerable seat and free up money to spend on other competitive races.

It could also piss off a lot of people and paint the Democratic Party as "undemocratic". Ironic, I know, considering what happened in Florida, but still, it's hard to ignore any potential backlash. My heart says, "if the GOP can steal the presidency, then the Dems can legally take a Senate seat", but my brain worries about the backlash.

Holy crap is this getting interesting!

Posted September 30, 2002 09:45 AM | Comments (13)


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