Updated: Handicapping the Senate & House primaries

UNITED STATES SENATE

Democrat: If Frank Lautenberg wins re-election, he will become the first five-term United States Senator in New Jersey history. But to become the Democratic nominee in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican to the United States Senate since 1972, Lautenberg must first win a bitter primary contest against Rob Andrews, a ten-term Congressman from South Jersey who his 34 years his junior. The race is very much about Lautenberg’s age (84) – the controversy about the debates is a metaphor for the “Lautenberg is too old” campaign – and about Andrews’ record on Iraq (perhaps a little hawkish for some New Jersey Democrats). Lautenberg has more money and organizational support, although Andrews is competitive in the fundraising area and has added a few key endorsements (though not organization lines) in Central and North Jersey, and some important labor backing. Lautenberg has never been passive when it comes to political campaigns, and his TV commercials are hard-hitting. He needs to get through the next couple of weeks without a mistake that might highlight his age – clearly the reason he’d rather suffer news reports that he won’t debate than one about a stumble. Leans Lautenberg

Republican: The good news is that the GOP field has settled down — it’s been almost a month since a new Republican candidate entered the race for the United States Senate; the bad news is that the three contenders – former Rep. Dick Zimmer, State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, and Ramapo College professor Murray Sabrin – are having trouble raising money and diverting attention from the hot Democratic primary. With just a few weeks to go, Republican voters still don’t know who much about the candidates. The GOP primary is a contest between Zimmer and Pennacchio – and not Sabrin, the leader of Ron Paul’s New Jersey campaign; both have several important organization lines. Zimmer, who had been a prodigious fundraiser when he served in Congress in the 1990’s, needs to raise money quickly to secure the chance to run in the general election. Pennacchio needs to win a huge margin in his home county, Morris, which produces more votes in a Republican primary than any other county in the state. Toss-Up.

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
DISTRICT 1

Ten-term incumbent Rob Andrews is seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

Democrat: Camille Andrews, the wife of Rep. Rob Andrews, is seeking the seat her husband for eighteen years until deciding to challenge incumbent Frank Lautenberg in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary. She faces two primary opponents: Mahdi Ibn-Ziyardm, a social studies teacher and Camden Democratic Committeeman; and John Caramanna, who ran for the State Assembly in 2007 but withdrew from the Democratic primary. Bishop David G. Evans, a major religious and civic leader in Camden and a member of the Democratic National Convention Credentials Committee, dropped out of the race last week. Safe Andrews

Republicans: Rev. Dale Glading, who runs a prison ministry, is the GOP organization candidate. He races a primary challenge from Gulf War veteran Fernando Powers, a supporter of Ron Paul and Murray Sabrin. Safe Glading

DISTRICT 2

Republican: Seven-term Congressman Frank LoBiondo faces a primary challenge from Donna Ward, a Paul/Sabrin backer. Safe LoBiondo

Democrat: Cape May City Councilman David Kurkowski, who owns a market research firm, is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Safe Kurkowski

DISTRICT 3

Twelve-term incumbent Jim Saxton, a Republican, is retiring.

Democrat: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman John Adler is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Safe Adler

Republican: Medford Mayor Christopher Myers, a Lockheed-Martin executive, is the choice of the Burlington County GOP and has Jim Saxton’s endorsement; he also has the organization line in Camden County.The Ocean County GOP is backing Freeholder Jack Kelly. The third candidate is former Tabernacle Township Committeeman Justin Murphy. This is a contest between Myers, who has raised slightly more money, and Kelly, who has a bigger geographic base in a Republican primary. Myers has taken some hits over a $500 personal contribution he made to Frank Lautenberg’s ’08 re-election campaign, and Burlington GOP remains divided after a intra-party leadership battle last fall. But Myers has fought back with an attack on Kelly’s government jobs and health benefits. This may have taken Kelly’s slight edge away. Toss-Up.

DISTRICT 4

Republican: Christopher Smith is unopposed in his bid for re-election to a fifteenth term. Safe Smith

Democrat: Joshua Zeitz, a college history professor and author from Bordentown, has no opposition in the Democratic primary. Safe Zeitz

DISTRICT 5

Republican: Scott Garrett, elected to Congress in 2002, has no primary opponent. Safe Garrett

Democrat: Organization Democrats have lined up behind Dennis Shulman, a blind rabbi/psychologist who has enjoyed some early fundraising success. He faces two primary rivals: attorney Camille Abate, who won about 1/3 of the vote in the ’06 primary (and has the backing of Passaic County Sheriff Gerald Speziale), and Roger Bacon, who manufactures personalized mugs. Likely Shulman

DISTRICT 6

Democrat: Frank Pallone has no opposition in the Democratic primary for the seat he has held since 1988.

Republican: Three Republicans are seeking the chance to challenge Pallone: former Holmdel Municipal Court Judge Robert McLeod, who has the organization line in Middlesex, Monmouth and Union counties; Peter Cerrato of Edison; and James Hogan, who is running on the Paul/Sabrin slate. Hogan is still the only one who has mounted a campaign and articulated his positions on national issues. Still, in a primary like this, the lines matter. Safe McLeod

DISTRICT 7

Four-term incumbent Mike Ferguson, a Republican, is retiring.

Republican: Seven Republicans are seeking to succeed Mike Ferguson in a district that has been Republican since 1956: State Sen. Leonard Lance has raised $300,000 and has won organization lines in Hunterdon (38% of the district in a GOP primary) and Somerset (29%); Kate Whitman, the daughter of former Gov. Christie Whitman, has raised $430,000 and has organization support in Middlesex County (6%); and Kelly Hatfield, with the organization line in Union County (27%), has raised about $100,00. Scotch Plains Mayor Martin Marks, who is running to the right of the rest of the field, has no organizations support, but has raised nearly $125,000. Three other candidates lag far behind: former prosecutor/Iraq War veteran Tom Roughneen, who has been impressive on the campaign trail but has no money or organization support; A.D. Amar, a Seton Hall University professor; and Darren Young, a perennial candidate who is running on the Paul/Sabrin ticket. Likely Lance

Democrat: Linda Stender, a four-term Assemblywoman who came within 1% of ousting Ferguson two years ago. She is unopposed in the primary. Safe Stender

DISTRICT 8

Democrat: Bill Pascrell, elected to Congress when he upset a one-term GOP incumbent in 1996, has no opposition in the Democratic primary. Safe Pascrell

Republican: Roland Straten, a 67-year-old retired CEO and Montclair civic leader, is unopposed in the GOP primary. Safe Straten

DISTRICT 9

Democrat: Steven Rothman, the Chairman of Barack Obama’s New Jersey campaign, has no primary opponent. Safe Rothman

Republican: Vincent Micco, an Iraq War veteran who won 28% against Rothman in 2006, is unopposed in the GOP primary. Safe Micco

DISTRICT 10

Democrat: Donald Payne, the only African-American to represent New Jersey in Congress, is unopposed in the Democratic primary as he seeks re-election to an eleventh term.

Republican: No candidate

DISTRICT 11

Republican: Seven-term incumbent Rodney Frelinghuysen faces a primary challenge from Kate Erber, a 26-year-old manager at Novartis and a backer of Paul/Sabrin. Safe Frelinghuysen

Democrat: Tom Wyka, who ran against Frelinghuysen two years ago and won 37% of the vote, is seeking a rematch. He has the backing of Democrats in Morris County against attorney Ellen Greenberg, who beat Wyka at the Sussex Democratic convention. A third candidate, Harry Hager, dropped out. Likely Wyka

DISTRICT 12

Democrat: Rush Holt, still an uncommitted superdelegate, has no primary opposition in his bid for a sixth term. Safe Holt

Republican: Holmdel Deputy Mayor Alan Bateman is unopposed in the GOP primary. Safe Bateman

DISTRICT 13

Democrat: Freshman Albio Sires, who comes out of the deeply divided Hudson County Democratic Organization, has avoided a primary challenge. Safe Sires

Republican: Joseph Turula, a Hudson County lawyer, has no primary opponent. Safe Turula

Updated: Handicapping the Senate & House primaries