Of course, there is the more celebrated battle between former State Assembly Speaker and West New York Mayor Albio Sires and Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas for the Democratic primary, a battle that gets more contentious by the minute.
However, there is also an election for Menendez' unexpired term, a span of a little more than two months, that will pit Sires against Guttenberg resident and Paterson school system educator James Geron.
That term will run from this September until November.
Yes, the two elections appear on the same ballot at the same time. Vas only appears as a contender in the Democratic primary election, hoping to face Sires on the regular ballot come November. But Geron, a Democrat, hopes to beat Sires out of his seat right now and hold the seat from September until the next election in November.
The 43-year-old Geron ran for Congress against Menendez as a Republican in 2002, ran for the state Senate against incumbent Nicholas Sacco in 2001, and also ran for the mayor of Guttenberg in 2001. But he is now a Democrat, and he only appears on the special election ballot for the two months that remain on Menendez' last elected term.
Got it? It is a tad confusing.
Getting noticed Geron, who switched to become a member of the Democratic party last December, feels that he has good issues and concerns, but has just had a tough time trying to get the voters to realize that there is a second election for the same seat next month.
"I have to get my voice out there and let people know where I stand," said Geron, who is an administrator in the Paterson school district. "I don't look at myself as either a liberal or a conservative. I'm just an average guy, an educated man with good ideas. I analyze things one issue at a time. I don't have an agenda that is in tune with either the conservatives or the liberals. That's the thing that made me want to run this time, to plant the seeds." Geron said that he believes that there are several important issues in the election - the war in Iraq, the struggle with immigration, the minimum wage and education.
Geron, a married father of three, believes that current elected officials are "politicizing the war...using it to their advantage."
"We can't forget the real reason why we're there and that we have our young adults fighting for our country," Geron said. "No one wants to be there. And yes, we were tricked into going there. But now that we're there, we can't just ignore what has happened and bring everyone home. They want the troops home? So do I. But we have to make sure we do it the right way."
Geron says that he has a special handle on the Mexican immigration, because he lived in the country for five years.
"We have people coming into this country from Mexico who are among the hardest workers in the world, but they're working for slave wages," Geron said. "And we're allowing big businesses to employ these people for substandard wages. That's not solving the problem."
Geron said that he decided to run for strictly the unexpired term and not for the Democratic nomination strictly for one reason.
"I think I can win this election," Geron said. "I don't know if I have the financial means to win the nomination. But the special election is different. I know I'm the underdog to start with. I'm trying to do everything I can to get my message out. There's no doubt in my mind I can beat Albio Sires in this election. People are not happy with him, and he's living off the luxury of having the county line."
Sires' name does appear in the traditionally strong Column A slot on both ballots.
Geron said that he has tried to debate with Sires for the election, but has seen his pleas fall on deaf ears. Geron has also tried to contact several media outlets, but he believes most of the news sources are focusing on the battle between Sires and Vas and not the special election.
"I've gotten zero response," Geron said.
Uphill battle So Geron continues his uphill battle in the hope of getting two months in Washington to have his thoughts and ideas heard in Capitol Hill.
"That's all I'm hoping for," Geron said. "I'm in the process of going around and meeting the people. I'm getting around the community and letting them know I'm here. I know [Sires] has the big support from the county, but I'm just trying to appeal to the people. I like to believe that people do realize that there are two elections. I understand it's hard to distinguish the two, but I just want people to know that I'm someone who cares about people and his community."