Three congressmen work the crowd at Dems conference; go hard at Christie, GOP

ATLANTIC CITY – In a redistricting year in which insiders say New Jersey will lose a seat, a crowd of Democrats regarded part of the state’s Congressional delegation with the very real thought that one of these men might soon be gone.

Or that one of them might one day be a senator, an idea reinforced by slot buckets on the tables paid for by Pallone for Senate 2005.

At a Bally’s bash tonight, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone and Rep. Steve Rothman gave anti-GOP speeches, and a particularly animated Pallone served as the anchor leg.

“Send that bully back to Morris County,” said Pallone, in reference to Gov. Chris Christie, and receiving a standing ovation from his party colleagues.

He shouted out U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) for his oil hits, mentioned the Dems’ redistircting win, and hammered the implications of Republican policies. His animated finale capped a well-received showing by the trio.

“The GOP voted to end Medicare in the House last month,” said Rothman. “Only Obama and the Democratic Senate are standing in the way of killing Medicare.”

Bar talk revolved much of the day around who within the party could kill the political careers of any of these men, or of what compromises would be forged with Republicans during the redistricting process to do the least damage to the most locked in party machine incumbents.

Common scenarios include Rothman v. U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell; rationale: they live a few miles from each other in a region of the state that has lost population; Holt v. U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (let the two relative newcomers fight it out in a general election, an option bemoaned by Holt backers who say the congressman has already been in a number of tough elections); or Pallone on the chopping block (a consequence of his willingness to fight Christie going back to his deferred prosecution fight, not to mention his lack of cozy relations with the Norcross machine in South Jersey).

The nervousness around redistricting coupled with the ambitions of these men to move up given an opportunity were complicated by the presence of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, himself a rumored future senator, who gave a stemwinder earlier during the cocktail hour.

Democratic State Chairman John Wisniewski objected to the characterization of the event as anything less than energized, and pointed out tonight that the place contained 50 full tables.

“It was an excellent event, well attended with good energy,” said veteran Hudson County Democratic operative Paul Swibinski.

An operative, observing the scene, credited Pallone with a more than solid speech.

“Dude tore it up. Red meat. He was fired up.”  Three congressmen work the crowd at Dems conference; go hard at Christie, GOP