Key South Jersey Democrats believe that they could emerge from the fall midterm elections with seven State Senate seats, giving them a formidable block if there leadership contests. Four seats are locks: incumbents Stephen Sweeney, Frederick Madden, and John Adler, and Dana Redd, who is seeking Wayne Bryant’s seat in Camden County. Democrats are very high on their chances to oust Republicans Nicholas Asselta and James “Sonny” McCullough, and see a possible pickup in the open eighth district, where their Senate candidate is Francis Bodine, a Republican Assemblyman until he switched parties last spring.
Less likely is a victory in the seventh district, where Democratic insiders say that three-term GOP incumbent Diane Allen appears to be a lock.
There has been considerable speculation that South Jersey and its increasingly large block of Democratic Senators might be interested in backing a challenge to Senate President Richard Codey; George Norcross, the most powerful man in South Jersey, is no Codey fan. Senator Raymond Lesniak, a Union County Democrat of considerable clout (and a thirty-year veteran of the Legislature) had been mentioned as a possible Codey challenger, though sources close to Lesniak believe such a challenge to be highly unlikely.
Instead, South Jersey has an agenda led by two high-ticket items: keeping Adler as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and enhancing the power of Sweeney – either as the new Senate Majority Leader, or as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.