If Vince Mazzeo gets run over on Tuesday, the South Jersey machine will have to pull out the Whelan for Senate lawn signs yet again to ensure its hold on the Democratic caucus. Sources said the party brass had to twist Whelan’s arm to run in 2013. Now Mazzeo’s expected to be able to win convincingly enough next Tuesday to allow the district’s top dog his ride into the sunset come 2017. But Dems may not be able to afford that if Mazzeo loses or crawls to a win. Of course, the machine may be able to sustain a loss by Mazzeo and Whelan’s retirement. But to make up for a lost seat in the senate, Democrats would then have to make sure they take down…
Watch the 7th District next Tuesday. Forget about the GOP opposition. Seasoned hand Assemblyman Herb Conaway and young upstart Assemblyman Troy Singleton are running against each other to rack up the biggest numbers to prove district-wide dominance and the right to take out veteran Republican incumbent Senator Allen. Never in any danger of getting even nicked by her challengers, Allen – long rumored to be nearing her political endgame – may not run next time, setting up the ultimate gladiatorial Democratic Primary spectacle between Conaway and Singleton.
The natty Assembly Minority Leader with statewide aspirations will cruise to victory in the 21st District, but even with the advantages in money and resources the Democrats are hurling at districts 1 and 2, Bramnick – in charge of Republican races in all 40 legislative districts – is not supposed to lose seats. He’s been the state’s most loyal ally of Gov. Chris Christie, whose poll numbers continue to sag dismally statewide as the governor attempts to simultaneously slip the surly bounds of the Garden State with a presidential run. If Colin Bell and/or Bruce Land squeak in, that could be Bramnick absorbing the damage and finding his potential limited to be the most favored establishment candidate for governor in 2017. Propping up a vote by mail program and heavily promoting it, Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-21) appears to be trying to repackage himself as a future gubernatorial or senate prospect, an especially likely possibility if Bramnick stumbles on Tuesday.
Jeff Van Drew
Like Whelan, the senator from District 1 gives indications that he may not want to be a senator forever. He’ll still have to decide, for example, about whether he’ll want to run for congress next year in the 2nd District. No fan of Hillary Clinton, the conservative Van Drew is probably not overly enamored of running on a ticket in conservative Cape May County under the former Secretary of State. If his political protege Bob Andrzejczak and Bruce Land lose next Tuesday, he’ll have the perfect excuse to play the part of noble paladin for South Jersey Democrats and stick around long enough to shore up the 1st District as a candidate for reelection in 2017. But if “The Van Drew Team” wins next week, and puts up pinball numbers in a dead year, Van Drew can leave the keys to the 2017 kingdom with Andrzejczak and position himself – even if only playfully – for a run at…
It’s difficult to picture Van Drew and LoBiondo going head-to-head (in the parlor gamesmanship of South Jersey politics, that’s more the province of Bill Hughes, Jr.), and more likely that LoBo – faced with a turf-pawing Van Drew – would retire, gracefully giving the gentleman dentist-senator his shot at the congressional seat. If Andrzejczak gets buried on Tuesday, LoBo can look forward to running again next year essentially with impunity (ie: another challenge by Hughes, Jr). But if the Democrats show strength, and particulalry if they sweep the decks, running again could be a no-no for LoBo.
Without Steve Sweeney on the ticket this year, the cerebral Third District Assemblyman will want to make a statement. Remember, Senate President Sweeney figures to be a gubernatorial candidate in the 2017 Democratic Primary, which means Burzichelli will have to move to fill the void left by his friend’s upward mobility. South Jersey Democrats want a convincing victory here next week to show off Burzichelli’s district-wide potential as Sweeney’s successor. So will a big win by Burzichelli as opposed to an unimpressive win prove anything ultimately here? No, not really. But it does represent test drive potential for the man who has long toiled in the broad shadow of the ironworker turned senate prez.
Linda Greenstein, Wayne DeAngelo and Dan Benson
It’s wholly conceivable that each one of these 14th District brand names could be a candidate for the state senate come 2017. We know DeAngelo – an electrical worker by trade – will be with Sweeney. It’s possible that Greenstein, defending her own incumbency, could line up under Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, and Benson could solder himself to Fulop, as his tweets to date suggest. We’re not saying that’s how it will go down, but it could. In any event, after next week, the jockeying will begin. So does next week’s outcome influence the future? A dominant victory by either DeAngelo or Benson will shape how others competing here will make their moves to ensure survival and perhaps assist Greenstein in leaning Sweeney (DeAngelo), Fulop (Benson) or entertaining support for former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy. “Would be interesting,” observed a source, “to see if LInda goes against Sweeney who helped her get to that Senate seat. Though Murphy has not been shy about being all over Mercer County.”
If Brown – outspent and outgunned in LD2 – finishes Tuesday night as the district’s top vote-getter, he automatically sets himself up as the favorite to win the senate seat in 2017. But might Brown – an amiable mop-topped war veteran and attorney – with a Tuesday attention-getting performance – even be able to enter himself into bigger and better discussions. We’re not saying governor just yet, but maybe in the future.
***Don’t forget two more, bonuses in this case, whose presence here below turn this list into a dozen.
Erik Peterson and John DiMaio
Republicans in Somerset, Warren and Hunterdon counties will be watching the outcome in the 23rd District and noting who gets the better of whom as they consider a possible successor to state Senator Mike Doherty (R-23). Tired of being a back-bencher in a Democrat-dominated governing body, Doherty may say see ya’ to the senate in 2017 with a run for governor. If he does, Somerset will want to make a move on the seat, and Hunterdon and Warren conceivably will want to try to make their own plays for domination. With Bridgewater re-routed into the 23rd as a consequence of 2011 redistricting, Somerset Republicans feel they have every reason to be able to lay claim. So on Tuesday, watch the results of races in Bridgewater, too, where the GOP may summon its next contender for the senate, someone who might have to vie against Peterson and/or DiMaio in a GOP Primary, maybe Mayor Dan Hayes, Jr.