The first of two stray thoughts on the New Jersey special Senate election as I (fittingly) ride the Amtrak to New York Tuesday night to cover Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s funeral:
(For my take on how the long Senate race just turned into a sprint, click here).
-- Are Dems angry or not?
One of the most striking things to watch after Gov. Christie’s announcement Tuesday were the completely divided reactions from Democrats in New Jersey and those with their eyes on the national picture.
In New Jersey, state Sen. Dick Codey said Christie was “giving residents of this state the finger” and others were raising the idea of suing to move the election back to November.
In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) told reporters “it’s the right thing to do” and the Democrats’ Senate campaign arm crowed about how hard it will be for Republicans to win the seat in a state where voters haven’t elected a GOP senate candidate since 1972.
The difference reflects the different motivations (N.J. Dems want a big-name boost in November to help their run against Christie and their down-ballot legislative candidates, while national Ds want to keep control of the Senate to advance their agenda on issues such as immigration reform) but also New Jersey’s parochial politics.
This is a state where endorsements from county chairs are often watched more closely than those of sitting U.S. Senators. Its political battles are intense, and they are feudal. House members and Senators at times seem to exist on a different plane than state-level officials.
So there are few Democrats in New Jersey thinking about the implications for immigration reform or the debt ceiling. They’re more concerned with what all this means for state Senate seats in, say, Middlesex County.