Reports of back stabbing his colleagues have plagued John Samerjan since he came to New Jersey 23 years ago, and now the Senate Republican Executive Director faces similar internal problems for the mid-term elections. A source close to Senate Minority Leader Leonard Lance says that an internal dispute between Samerjan and Rick England, a veteran political operative from the days when Republicans actually competed against Democratic Senators, has ended in England’s decision to skip the ‘07 cycle.
Samerjan’s performance as the Senate GOP’s top staffer was an issue in Anthony Bucco’s challenge to Lance two years ago, and is likely to be a factor in Lance’s expected challenge for a third term as Republican Leader in November. Lance has been criticized in GOP circles for his failure to participate heavily in candidate recruitment. Democratic Senators Paul Sarlo and Nicholas Scutari — both recipients of federal subpoenas in the state budget probe — are running unopposed. And Republicans were unable to find quality challengers to Stephen Sweeney, Frederick Madden and Joseph Coniglio.
With Republican Senators Nicholas Asselta and Sonny McCullough trailing in partisan polls — and with just one competitive challenger this cycle (Jennifer Beck against Ellen Karcher), Republicans could fall to just sixteen Senators rather than compete for a pickup of two seats — something that would result in shared control of the upper house.