Some insiders believe that the Andrews for Senate campaign is actually posturing for a last-minute deal that would have Andrews step aside in favor of Menendez in exchange for Menendez's support of Andrews in 2008 when U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg steps down at the expiration of his current term.
While some long-time associates of former County Executive Robert Janiszewski have said Menendez faces an uphill battle to retain the seat he will be appointed to by Gov. Jon Corzine, other political observers hint that the Republican Party in New Jersey may also be divided, and that some more conservative factions are not happy with the way State Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. has been coroneted as the automatic candidate.
This could leave the road open to another familiar name in Hudson County, former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler, whose two failed attempts for governor have some people discounting him, although his conservative credentials make him attractive to the more conservative side of the Republican Party.
A disputed Republican Party may just provide Menendez with the opening he needs to retain his newly acquired U.S. Senate seat.
House of Representatives to be disputed in Dem primary
Meanwhile, the fight over the seat Menendez has vacated is heating up, as Perth Amboy Mayor JosephVas challenges Assembly Speaker and West New York Mayor Albio Sires for the 13th Congressional seat.
Unlike the U.S. Senate seat, the House of Representatives seat will remain vacant from the time Menendez vacates it later this month until the November special election settles who will get it. No provision exists for naming anyone to the post the way Corzine named Menendez to the U.S. Senate.
Sires seems to be taking the challenge with wry humor. Numerous officials reported that at a recent leadership meeting in North Hudson, Sires commented: "I'm going to run; the other guys are going to run; I'm going to kick their ass."
While Vas is currently the only other candidate, a recent telephone poll suggests that Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage may also be considering a run for the seat. The poll, which several Bayonne residents got during the New York Giants' tragic playoff loss, pointed out the negatives of both Sires and Vas, while at the same time seemed to play up the virtues of Bollwage.
What this means is anybody's guess, since Bollwage is a close associate of State Sen. Ray Lesniak, one of the heavyweights of Democratic power in the state.
Implications in Bayonne
The race pitting Vas, Sires and possibly Bollwage against each other may have implications for one of the key municipal races in Hudson County: The May mayor and council races in Bayonne, where a political battle seems to have larger implications as to who will control the development of the former Military Ocean Terminal.
Both Lesniak and South Jersey's Democratic political powerhouse George Norcross appear to have interest in removing Mayor Joseph Doria as mayor. Norcross led the attack on Doria in 2002 that kept Doria from becoming state Assembly Speaker (and ended up with Sires being named as a compromise selection). Norcross had backed state Assemblyman Joseph Roberts for the speaker post, an appointment that will take place once Corzine is sworn in as governor.
The closeness of the mayoral race on May 9 followed by the June 6 primary could guarantee a flow of money into Bayonne in May to support anti-Doria candidates.
Vincent Militello has already announced his intention to run for mayor. Doria is expected to announce shortly. But even if Doria retains his seat against Militello, he could lose control of the City Council, leaving Bayonne government divided.
While most Doria people dispute the rumors that he will take a cabinet post under Corzine, the fact is that Doria faces some serious challenges in the next two years.
His seat in the state Senate comes up for re-election in 2007, and supporters of Sandra Cunningham, the widow of former State Senator and Jersey City Mayor Glenn Cunningham, appear to be garnering support and funds for a campaign to challenge Doria.
Matthew Burns is being considered as chair for the finance committee, and old-time Cunningham loyalists Joe Cardwell and Bobby Jackson seem to be making the rounds of the former Glenn Cunningham supporters to see if they will support a Sandra race for state Senate.
Debates, fundraising and contests of other sorts
The Bayonne Community News will be moderating a debate to be televised among Bayonne mayoral candidates on the "Mike and Coach" program around April.
Council Member-at-Large Maria Karczewski, who is expected to run for re-election in Bayonne, will be saluted at a fund raiser in her honor scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Bayonne Jewish Community Center. Tickets for the event are $75 per person and include refreshments and a hot and cold buffet, as well as the opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones in a relaxed atmosphere.
Tickets can be obtained by calling the committee at (201) 823-9233.
The Friends of Ted Connolly are planning a brunch on Sunday, Jan. 22, at 11 a.m., at the Chandelier Restaurant, to honor 1st Ward Councilman Ted Connolly. Tickets for the brunch are $65 and can be purchased by calling Maryanne Connolly at (201) 858-4816 or Frank P. Perrucci at (201) 858-1623.
Meanwhile, Matty Amato and this columnist (Al Sullivan) will act as referees in a dart contest between Dr. Joseph Mauriello, a Weehawken dentist, and North Jersey regional champion/Guttenberg Mayor David Della Donna - an English dart master, at the Wild Rover Pub, 7103 Park Ave, in Guttenberg at 1 p.m. this Sunday, Jan. 15.
Contact Al Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org