If Democrats think Christopher Christie was wrong when he discussed his interest in running for Governor with Karl Rove, how will they react when Superior Court Judge Mathias Rodriguez enters the race for State Assembly in the nineteenth district? Rodriguez notified the Administrative Office of the Courts yesterday of his intention to retire today; he is expected to seek the Democratic Assembly nod after South Amboy Mayor Jack O'Leary drops out of the race – something that could happen within the next five days. Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Joseph Spicuzzo told the Home News Tribune last month that he had discussed the Assembly post with the Judge.
"I have already spoken with Judge Rodriguez and he is definitely interested in the position, but only after Jack O'Leary decides what he is going to do," the HNT reported Spicuzzo as saying.
This puts Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in a potential bind: can he back Rodriguez for the Assembly while making an issue of career discussions between old friends? For Corzine, the timing of this is unfortunate, and could push him into a position of slapping Spicuzzo and Rodriguez.
While the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibits a judge from engaging in any political activity, it might be up to the appropriate ethics panel to decide if private conservations about a prospective candidacy constitutes political activity.
If O'Leary drops out – Democratic sources say he will – the Democratic County Committees of Woodbridge, Carteret, Perth Amboy, Sayreville and South Amboy must meet before September 14 to nominate a new Assembly candidate. Rodriguez, a Judge since 1989, has been the front runner for the last month (and reportedly has the backing of Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz). But Woodbridge could come up with a candidate, especially if Democrats throw Rodriguez under the bus to fully protect their use of the Christie/Rove issue during the fall.