Thursday, August 23, 2012

New Jersey U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

New Jersey U.S. Senate

August 23, 2012
75 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2008 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Likely Democrat

There has not been a lot of focus thus far this year on the Senate race in New Jersey, where incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez, who was first appointed to the Senate in 2006, and elected later that year, is expected to fairly easily win another term.

New Jersey has seen some knock-down drag-out competitive ballots for the Senate and the Governorship before, in a state where a successful candidate has to spend a lot of money to advertise, both on the expensive New York City and Philadelphia television markets, but this race is not getting nearly as much attention as some other Senate races or the off-year Gubernatorial elections in the Garden State.

The overwhelming winner of the June GOP primary was easily the strongest candidate in the field, and the party has a more than credible contender in Joseph Kyrillos, who was the only major contender willing to take on such a difficult race. A longtime member of the state legislature, Kyrillos has served in the State Senate for over 20 years. His only defeat was a competitive race as a GOP Congressional nominee in 1992. A former State Republican Chairman, the 58 year old Kyrillos is a top ally of Governor Chris Christie and a longtime supporter of Mitt Romney's Presidential bids in the state.

In this Cuban-American vs. Greek-American matchup, the incumbent Menendez is considered a shrewd and well-funded political operator, who has had leadership positions in both the U.S. House and Senate. There have also long been rumors regarding alleged ethical transgressions against Menendez going back many years, but that is not exactly unheard of, for figures in both parties in New Jersey politics.

The dynamics of the Presidential race, in a typically Democrat leaning state like New Jersey are likely to help Menendez, but at least thus far, he does not seem to be blowing his GOP opponent out of the water. However, he had appeared to be in a very tight race to keep his seat for a first full term in 2006, before pulling away in the end, which is something that has often happens in New Jersey with what appears to be a somewhat larger group of late deciding voters, than seen in other states.

As of right now, Menendez appears to be ahead of Kyrillos by high single digits to low double digits, with the incumbent failing to hit 50 percent. Theoretically, this race is still competitive, and anything could happen, but GOP resources are more likely to be directed nationally towards other Senate opportunities, and in New Jersey, on some competitive Congressional races.

In a state famous for some reality shows the past few years, an easy reelection for Menendez might not be a "shore" thing, but the Situation in Jersey is one where he is a heavy favorite.

Kyrillos campaign link:

2012 U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 10 D, 8 R
Predicted U.S. Senate Balance of Power thus far: 40 D, 45 R