The Bergen Rule

PoliticsNJ.com has declared Democrat Dennis McNerney the winner in the race for Bergen County Executive. And you should care, even if you have never heard of McNerney.

Bergen, the densely-populated swath of suburbia that begins on the other side of the George Washington Bridge and extends all the way up to the New York border, is an uncannily reliable barometer of state political trends. Only once — when the free-spending Jon Corzine purchased a Senate seat for $63 million in 2000– has a statewide candidate won in New Jersey without also carrying Bergen. (Corzine, who bounced back to carry Bergen in his gubernatorial bid last year, lost the county in ’00 by 5,000 votes to Bob Franks.)

So, the fact that McNerney won tonight — even though it is not at all a surprise to New Jersey political observers –bodes very well for Robert Menendez’s chances in the Senate race. After all, if the Democratic candidate for county executive wins Bergen, it stands to reason the Senate candidate has as well. And if that’s the case, well, history tells us Menendez is a lock. Almost.

– Steve Kornacki