Pretend, just for a moment, that Rob Ortiz, the newly-elected Bergen County Republican Chairman, is the real thing: he raises the kind of money Joe Ferriero did when he became Democratic County Chairman in 1998 (at a time when Republicans completely dominated county and state government), and in November, he picks up three Freeholder seats and a State Senate seat. That would make Ortiz a genuine Republican hero as he brings the GOP back to life in the state’s largest county.
Now pretend that by February of next year, Republicans have picked Rudy Giuliani as their presidential candidate. In New Jersey, Giuliani leads all Democratic candidates in every independent poll.
And Frank Lautenberg, the 84-year-old United States Senator, is running for re-election – and people still wonder if he is too old to serve a fifth six-year term.
Could Ortiz emerge as a U.S. Senate candidate?
Asked that question, some Republican insiders who aren’t sure the current field of Lautenberg challengers offers the best chance of winning, expressed a little bit of interest in the Texas-born 35-year-old Latino lawyer with a physician wife, three kids (and a fourth on the way), who comes from Bergen County and could raise some money. They admitted, with a little prodding, that a young, outside-the-box candidate like Ortiz, with no public record to attack, could be an interesting contrast to the Democratic incumbent.
Of course, Republicans could get swept in Bergen again this fall — which would have more than the 35% of GOP County Committee members who opposed his election last week using the change word again.