Tuesday, October 1, 2002

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TORCHING THE DEMS: Kausfiles and

TORCHING THE DEMS: Kausfiles and Sullivan both believe that Toricelli's withdrawal from the New Jersey Senate race is an underhanded way for Democrats to gain the edge against Republican candidate Douglas Forrester. That was my first instinct, but my second says this strategy won't work. Here's why:

1) Forrester can already claim a significant achievement. The New York Times editorial disses Forrester noting, "until now [he] has focused almost entirely on Mr. Torricelli's ethics." Hey, that turned out to be a pretty relevant issue! And it forced out the Torch. New slogan: Forrester gets results!! Did Lautenberg, Bradley, or any of the other would-be substitutes raise this?

2) Forrester can run against the Senate leadership. As blogger John Cole points out, as of last week Tom Daschle was encouraging voters to look past Toricelli's ethical lapses in order to keep the Democratic hold of the Senate. Forrester can campaign right past whoever the Dems put up and ask voters whether they would really trust a party that wanted a sleazebag to represent them? [Wouldn't the Republicans have sone the same thing?--ed. Possibly, but you could actually make the case that Karl Rove had decent taste in candidates this election season. In retrospect he was right to back Richard Riordian over Simon in the California gubernatorial race, and he also helped unseat Bob Smith in the New Hampshire Republican primary.]

3) The Democrats had their chance. There was a primary election, yes? Toricelli's ethical lapses were public knowledge way before that primary, yes? It will be pretty easy to dig at the Torch's replacement for a Johnny-come-lately attitude towards the voters of New Jersey.

New Jersey is a Democratic state, so I'm not saying this will be an easy campaign. And as ABC's The Note poiints out, no matter what happens in New Jersey, the decision frees up more resources for other races. But it will be very tough for the Democratic party to wipe away the Torch's slime.

UPDATE: Patrick Ruffini makes my general point, but actually knows something about New Jersey politics.

posted by Dan on 10.01.02 at 11:01 AM