2007 could be the year of the freshman

There is a plausible, though unlikely, scenario that has as much as a turnover of as much as half of the New Jersey State Senate after the 2007 general election. District 1: Republican Senator Nicholas Asselta could lose to Democratic Assemblyman Jefferson Van Drew. District 2: Democrats are pledging a competitive Senate race against GOP incumbent Bill Gormley — possible candidates include Assemblyman (and former Atlantic City Mayor) James Whelan, Republican-turned-Democratic former Assemblyman Paul D’Amato, and Sheriff Edward McGhettigan. Gormley is also a possible candidate for voluntary retirement. District 3: Democrat Stephen Sweeney appears to be strong at home, but the possibility that some key public employee labor unions could back a primary or general election challenger keeps Sweeney off the safe list for now. District 4: There continues to be speculation that freshman Democratic Senator Fred Madden won’t seek re-election, and that some unions are talking to former GOP Senator (now Administrative Law Judge) George Geist about running again. District 5: Allegations that Democratic Senator Wayne Bryant had a no-show job at UMDNJ to lobby himself increases the possibility that this safe Democratic district will get a new nominee. District 8: Similar allegations against 75-year-old Republican Senator Martha Bark has many insiders assuming she will not run again. District 11: Republican Senator Joseph Palaia has already announced that he won’t seek re-election. District 12: Freshman Ellen Karcher, who beat embattled Senate Co-President John Bennett in a GOP-leaning district, could be the most vulnerbale member of the Senate Democratic Caucus. District 14: Republican Peter Inverso is a possible retiree. District 16: Republican Walter Kavanaugh, in poor health over the last few years, is a possible retiree. District 17: Some Democrats say that Senator Robert Smith, a longtime ally of convicted ex-Senate President John Lynch, could have a problem if reform Democrats can get their act together. District 21: Several independent polls show Republican Thomas Kean, Jr. ahead in the race for the U.S. Senate. District 24: Republican Robert Littell, in poor health over the last few years, is a possible retiree. He could also lose a primary to Assemblyman Guy Gregg. District 26: Republican Senator Robert Martin said last year that he won’t run again. District 28: Democratic Senator Ronald Rice seems unlikely to keep party support in a bid for an eight term; he won just 25% of the vote in his race for Mayor of Newark against Cory Booker earlier this year. District 29: Sharpe James, who dropped his bid for re-election as Mayor of Newark, could fight to keep his Senate seat — or again, choose to leave quietly. District 31: Senator Joseph Doria was forced into a runoff campaign to win a third term as Mayor of Bayonne and some Democrats think he might get pushed out. District 33: The conventional wisdom is that Senate Majority Leader (and Hudson County Democratic Chairman) Bernard Kenny is the underdog in a primary with Assemblyman/Union City Mayor Brian Stack, who has all-but-announced his intention to run. District 35: John Girgenti is probably in good shape, but he has a Peter Rodino problem: a white Senator in a district where minorities are the majority of voters. District 36: Democratic Senator Paul Sarlo will be hard to beat, but he’s not at all safe if the Republicans can recruit a quality challenger — like former Assembly Majority Leader Paul DiGaetano, Bergen County Clerk Kathleen Donovan, or Nutley Mayor Joanne Cocchiola. District 37: Democratic Senator Loretta Weinberg is facing a primary challenge from former Assemblyman Ken Zisa. District 40: Again, much specualtion that Republican Senator Henry McNamara will retire.

2007 could be the year of the freshman