Democrats are spending money in four districts where they have a reasonable shot at picking up seats: against GOP incumbents Nicholas Asselta in district 1, Sonny McCullough in district 2, and Gerald Cardinale in the 39th; for open seats in District 8 (where Republican-turned-Democrat Assemblyman Francis Bodine faces Burlington County Clerk Philip Haines for the seat being vacated by retiring Senator Martha Bark.
And to a lesser extent, Democrats are watching the 11th and 14th districts, where two veteran GOP Senators are retiring. The Republican candidates in those districts, Assemblymen Sean Kean and Bill Baroni, are considered favorites in their respective races against Democrats John Villapiano, a former Assemblyman and Monmouth County Freeholder, and ex-state Ratepayer Advocate Seema Singh.
Senate Minority Whip Thomas Kean, Jr. seems to have the votes to oust Lance after the election – and Kean will likely get re-elected by voters in his own Republican-leaning district. There are some Democrats – indeed, rather powerful ones – who have taken a special interest in former Long Hill Mayor Gina Genovese’s challenge to Kean. Those Democrats want to mess with the incumbent a little – clearly as payback for his campaign against Robert Menendez in the 2006 U.S. Senate race.
And Republicans have a credible challenger in Gloucester Township Councilwoman Shelley Lovett against freshman State Senator Frederick Madden in the fourth district. Madden only won that seat by 63 votes after South Jersey Democrats broke fundraising records to get that seat. But without money from Lance and Republican State Chairman Tom Wilson, Lovett doesn’t have a chance.
The best opportuity for the Republicans to pick up a Democratic seat is in the 12th district, where Republican Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck faces Democratic State Senator Ellen Karcher. With the backing of Codey, Karcher has a huge financial edge over Beck, who rarely hears from Lance.
Colletti could emerge as a real contender for State Senate, if Coniglio refuses Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero’s soon-to-come call telling him to drop his re-election bid.
Right now, it looks as though Lance’s bets case scenario is a 20-20 split: that would mean holding all GOP seats and picking up Beck and Colletti – no easy task. More upsetting to the GOP is their worst case scenario, which could come excruciatingly close to the ten seats they had after the 1973 Watergate landslide.