Rob Andrews: Seriously, I’m not running

Again and Again, Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights) has said that he will not run for re-election to his House

Again and Again, Rep. Rob Andrews (D-Haddon Heights) has said that he will not run for re-election to his House seat after challenging Sen.Frank Lautenberg in last month's primary.

But no matter how many times he says it, speculation – and in some cases hopefulness — persists that Rob's name will be on the ballot instead of his wife, Camille, who is currently the Democratic placeholder.

Asked whether his promise not to run again was unequivocal, Andrews, who's held the seat since 1990, said, "Yes… as I've said since April."

In an effort to put an end to the speculation, asked Andrews if he would write and sign a letter to the Clerk of the House stating that, effective January 3, he would resign his seat no matter what. Such a letter would be reversible, but it could further dispel rumors of Andrews's impending return.

Andrews declined.

"It's not necessary or appropriate," he said.

Still, hope springs eternal amongst South Jersey Democrats, even from those whose names are under consideration as potential replacements.

Among those is Burlington County Democratic Chairman Rick Perr (although South Jersey Democrats downplay the possibility, favoring a Camden County native for the seat).

"I believe Rob is being honest when he says (that he won't run), but it's like individuals in high school trying to court someone to go to the senior prom. If you ask them enough times, maybe they'll say yes,"

said Perr. "I guess Rob Andrews is the prom date."

Andrews, however, said he never attended his high school prom.

"Rick Perr is a great friend but I don't look so good in a blue tuxedo," he said.

Perr said that many constituents and fellow politicians remain hopeful that Andrews will reconsider and that "at this moment in time we're in a situation where decisions have to be made hastily one way or the other."

The decision to run Camille Andrews as a placeholder while party leaders consider other candidates drew fire from Lautenberg's campaign during the primary, local newspapers' editorial boards and now Dale Glading, the long-shot Republican candidate in the district.

But Perr argued that the move is as much a part of the Democratic process as anything. That, just like voters, county committee members, who will have final say on a nominee that will likely have been approved by South Jersey power broker George Norcross III, have a role in the election.

"To suggest that this process is somehow being perverted is grandstanding, because it's not. It's part of the rules," he said.

The continued push to get Rob Andrews to run again puzzles Monmouth University Patrick Murray since Democrats in this district – one of the safest in the state for them – don't need to run an incumbent to win.

"They talk about his loss of 18 years seniority. Sure, that's something.

But that didn't bother them when he originally gave up the seat to run for Senate," he said.

If Andrews wanted to get back on the ballot, he wouldn't likely suffer any electoral consequences. But the status of his already frayed relationship with fellow members of the New Jersey Democratic delegation could be another story, according to Murray.

When Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton) displeased members of his own party for his advocacy of veterans' benefits when the GOP still controlled Congress, he was removed from his Veterans Affairs Committee chairmanship. Democrats, however, insist that Andrews wouldn't lose any of his committee assignments should he run again.

Still, after Andrews decided to primary Lautenberg against the wishes of the state's five other Democratic congressmen (three of whom have senatorial aspirations), he found himself shunned by his fellow members, who refused to work with him on legislation and warned away potential donors.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), who earlier scoffed at the notion of Andrews returning, said that he still takes Andrews at his word. Even if Andrews reneged, Pallone said that he would have to work to repair their relationship.

"I just would be surprised, frankly, at this point that he would (return) only because he keeps saying it over and over again. But I think that we have an obligation, if he does come back, for the good of the state to work with him and try to do things together," he said. Rob Andrews: Seriously, I’m not running