There is little doubt that Congressman Steve Rothman has become a major guy in Barack Obama’s campaign. So if Obama were to win the presidency, it’s not crazy to view Rothman as a possible candidate for appointment to a major executive branch post — eight of the last nine presidents (Lyndon Johnson was the exception) named sitting Members of Congress to cabinet posts.
A Rothman resignation in January 2009 would force Governor Jon Corzine to decide whether he wants to call an early Special Election, or just let the seat remain vacant for ten months – like he did when he appointed Bob Menendez to the U.S. Senate. It would create some interesting competition for the seat – you can be sure Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes, with over $500,000 in a federal campaign account right now, would enter the race. Bergen Democrats expect State Senator Paul Sarlo to run – but the recent legal troubles of his political allies, Bergen County Democratic Chairman Joseph Ferriero and lawyer Dennis Oury, could affect his prospects. And State Senator Loretta Weinberg, nearly a decade younger than Frank Lautenberg, could also decide she’d like to serve in Congress. And while this is a Democratic district, how would County Clerk Kathleen Donovan do in a winter ’09 special election?
One more question: would Rothman’s prospects to run statewide be enhanced or diminished by leaving Congress to hold an adminisration post?