Dead Vas Walking

Assemblyman Joseph Vas may have caused himself some serious political problems when he all but accused Governor Jon Corzine of breaking the law by colluding with former Assembly Speaker Albio Sires to prevent him from running in the special election to fill out the remainder of Robert Menendez’s term in Congress. Corzine has endorsed Sires for the seat, and sources confirm that Corzine’s office was not happy with Vas’ statements. Vas, who is also mayor of Perth Amboy, is looking for some substantial aid for Perth Amboy this spring so that he can avoid a sharp increase in municipal taxes just as he is running for Congress. His allegations against the governor make that much less likely. As a sophomore legislator, Vas might find the governor much less receptive to signing bills that are sponsored by a legislator who has accused him of breaking the law. Vas’ allegations that Corzine purposely did not notify him of the special election in time for him to find 200 valid signatures is specious at best. As any legislator — including Vas — presumably knows, state law dictates that a special election be held concurrently with the regular election if there is a congressional vacancy. Three New Jersey Congressmen — Jim Saxton, Frank Pallone and Rob Andrews — won November Special Elections to fill vacant House seats. Saxton replaced Edwin Forsythe, who died in March 1984; Pallone took the seat of James Howard, who passed away in March 1988; after Jim Florio became Governor in January 1990, Andrews won his House seat. When Corzine named Menendez to the Senate last January, the only issue is whether the new Governor would call an early Special Election. The November 2006 Special Election to fill the remaining two months of Menendez’ term was not negotiable. Vas’ argument is further undermined by the fact that James Geron, a Paterson school teacher, was notified of the special election at the same time as Vas and Sires and still managed to collect enough signatures to file against Sires in the special election. The problem for Vas is that donors may be much more reluctant to contribute money to a campaign where the candidate is accusing the governor of being a law breaker. Vas, who is trailing badly behind Sires in both fund raising and endorsements, needs all the help he can get. With this most recent outburst, he may have put another nail into his congressional campaign coffin. Worse for Vas is the possibility that another Democrat — possibly Carteret Mayor Dan Reiman — might seek to take advantage of his weakness and challenge him for his 19th district Assembly seat at the 2007 Middlesex County Democratic convention.

Dead Vas Walking