Union County: Kean, safe; Lesniak, safe; Scutari, safe

Former Long Hill Mayor Gina Genovese's challenge to Senate Minority Whip Thomas Kean has gone nowhere. Several months ago, there were suggestions that Genovese might get support — mostly financial — from a group of key Democratic insiders who wanted to use the 21st district State Senate campaign as a form of retaliation for Kean's U.S. Senate race against Robert Menendez last year. But Democrats now concede that Genovese has turned out to be a weak and largely unfocused candidate with little chance to score an upset in a legislative district where Menendez won 46% one year ago. Genovese's failure to mount an effective campaign has allowed Kean to spend money in other districts. Kean will likely be re-elected, probably by his usual margins, and seems well positioned to become the next Senate Minority Leader.

In the Assembly, Republican incumbents Jon Bramnick and Eric Munoz are secure in their bids for re-election against former Cranford Mayor Norman Albert and '05 candidate Bruce Bergen. Bramnick, the Assembly Minority Whip, is thinking about running for the U.S. Senate next year.

In the 20th district, State Senator Raymond Lesniak is a shoo-in for re-election to a ninth term. He faces Republican Linda Gaglione, the Vice President of the Union Township Board of Education. Lesniak's two running mates, Joseph Cryan, who is also the Demcoratic State Chairman, and Neil Cohen, are running unopposed.

In the third Union County-based district, District 22, State Senator Nicholas Scutari, who was among a group of legislators who received a subpoena as part of a federal probe of state budget issues, faces Rose McConnell, a former Somerset County Freeholder. McConnell won the nomination as a write-in candidate after the GOP failed to recruit a challenger to Scutari.

The Democratic-leaning 22nd is a potentially competitive district — Republican Martin Marks, the Mayor of Scotch Plains, won 45% in the last election, when Scutari become a late replacement for Joseph Suliga. But McConnell is hardly a solid candidate: she is elderly, has received virtually no financial support from the GOP, and she serves on the scandal plagued Somerset County Parks Commission.

The two Assembly incumbents are secure: Linda Stender, who has already begun her 2008 campaign for Congress (she came within 1% of ousting incumbent Mike Ferguson last year); and veteran Gerald Green. Union County: Kean, safe; Lesniak, safe; Scutari, safe