Jumping the gun on 2010

If Republicans Scott Garrett, Christopher Myers and Leonard Lance win hotly contested House races next week, it is unlikely that Democrats would invest heavily in these traditionally GOP districts again in 2010. But Democratic victories would make these districts battlegrounds in the 2010 mid-term elections.

If Garrett survives — Politicker.com’s The Pindell Report has the seat as Leans Republican — he’ll have a firm lock on the 5th district seat until at least 2012, when mapmakers draw new congressional districts. But if blind Rabbi Dennis Shulman upsets Garrett, he’d immediately become one of the nation’s most vulnerbale Democratic Congressmen. There is already talk among some Bergen County Republicans that Assemblyman David Russo would enter the race to challenge Shulman in 2010. Russo sought the seat six years ago when Marge Roukema retired and lost to Garrett 45%-24% after splitting the Bergen GOP vote with State Sen. Gerald Cardinale.

Assemblyman Michael Doherty, who has passed on several opportunities to seek higher office, State Sen. Steven Oroho, and Assemblywoman Allison McHose would also be possible contenders for the seat. Garrett could also seek a comeback.

Myers would be the favorite to hold the third district seat if he beats the strongest possible Democratic candidate, State Sen. John Adler; Democrats haven’t won this House seat since 1882. But as a freshman, Adler would face one more tough race, possibly against State Sen. Diane Allen (if he can heal wounds within the Burlington Republican organization), Ocean County Freeholder Jack Kelly (who lost the primary to Myers), or former baseball star Al Leiter.

Lance would also be a strong contender for re-election in two years if Republicans survive aggressive challenges in 2006 and 2008. But if Linda Stender wins, Republicans will look at the seventh district seat as one of their best chances for a ’10 pickup. Possible candidates would include Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean, Jr., Assembly Minority Whip Jon Bramnick, Hunterdon County Freeholder Matthew Holt, and Kate Whitman, the daughter of the former Governor who finished second in the June GOP primary. And retiring four-term Congressman Michael Ferguson’s name will get some consideration for a 2010 run until he takes himself off the short list. The 38-year-old Republican probably made the right decision to forego a re-election bid after coming within 1% of losing to Stender two years ago.

Jumping the gun on 2010