Schumer reaffirms support for Lautenberg, says ‘We support our incumbents’

WASHINGTON — Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chair Chuck Schumer reaffirmed his support for incumbent U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg this afternoon – and took something of a shot at Lautenberg primary challenger U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews.

“We believe that Frank will win the primary. His numbers are good, his popularity among Democrats in a poll we just made public is very high. In the northern part of the state, the northern counties, Frank is ahead, I think, 75 – 11. The Andrews people had thought they could get a few of those northern counties, but they don’t have a one. All 14 are with Frank,” Schumer said.

“So, you know, I think Frank will win,” Schumer added. “Frank has, you know, about double the money in the bank that Andrews has. We support our incumbents. Frank has done a very good job in the Senate, he’s active, he’s strong, and we think we will win. And New Jersey is blue. We don’t think the field of their candidates is as strong as ours. But we think Frank is the stronger candidate in both the primary and the general.”

Schumer appeared at a joint press conference with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Chris Van Hollen at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, where they addressed a packed room of journalists on the 2008 electoral landscape.

Van Hollen wouldn’t answer specifically when asked if Andrews was using his wife, Camille, as a placeholder for his House seat, but expressed confidence that Democrats could maintain the seat.

“…Look, we leave the decision to New Jersey Democrats and the New Jersey Democratic Party. I would point out that the Andrews seat was carried by John Kerry with 60 percent of the vote. From our perspective over here, our first question is, ‘can we hold onto the seat?’ And that’s a seat we’re very confident we can hold it given the past Democratic performance.”

Van Hollen was also asked if New Jersey’s party-boss heavy system for selecting candidates was effective.

“The DCCC’s position is to allow these primaries to work out. But part of letting them work out is to let the state processes work the way they are supposed to work,” Van Hollen said. “And obviously, New Jersey, they do it differently than other states. And we’ll have to see how this all plays out.”