What Might have Been, Part 2: Doherty v. Lesniak

There’s no way these two could be put in the same district, we get that. It could only work if they stood on opposite ends of a rubber band stretched to the breaking point from the Delaware to the Arthur Kill.

Please forgive this hypothetical indulgence then, but this matchup has all the makings of the greatest state Senate contest of all time.

On the basest level, it delivers.

It gives you two alpha male combatants who already almost had a physical confrontation on the floor of the Senate.

Imagine what would happen in the street.

This ultimate political-epicurean spectacle pits a renegade Republican against the face of the Union County Democratic establishment. At first glance it appears to be simply only a war of antagonists; rural champion Doherty against urban guerilla Lesniak; small-town patent attorney against law firm octopus; ambitious future U.S. Senate candidate against entrenched power player; questioner of the role of the N.J. Supreme Court versus firm legal-arm-of-government supporter; middle class millionaire’s tax opponent against millionaire millionaire’s tax supporter.

It just does not get any better, especially when you consider these two heavyweights are now up against redistricting-encumbered lightweights.

On a long list, arguably the biggest divergence here involves Abbott funding. Doherty targets a school funding formula that awards cities like Lesniak’s Elizabeth Abbott urban aid that Doherty maintains unfairly punishes suburban and rural residents.

By contrast, Lesniak aggressively upholds Abbott.

But look more closely and the two senators share support for the controversially timely Opportunity Scholarship Act (OSA), a vouchers pilot program, potentially creating the opportunity for nuanced debate in addition to all the other certain gladiatorial campaign volatility.

But the only thing dragged out behind a chariot was this real contest and others like it, when redistricting commissioners last spring dropped the gavel on the Heldrich Hotel.