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Lautenberg Easily Wins N.J. Primary

UPDATE 10:55 PM: Zimmer has been declared the winner in the GOP primary, and will face Lautenberg in the fall as a decided underdog.

ORIGINAL POST: Sen. Frank Lautenberg easily fended off a challenge from Rep. Rob Andrews today in New Jersey's Democratic Senate primary, after a heated campaign in which Andrews raised questions about the 84-year-old Senator's age and got dumped on by much of the state's Democratic establishment in response. With 68 percent of precincts reporting, Lautenberg was ahead, 64 percent to 30 percent, and Andrews has reportedly already called Lautenberg to concede.

Lautenberg will now be favored for reelection in November versus either ex-Rep. Dick Zimmer or state Sen. Joe Pennacchio, who are battling for the GOP Senate nomination along with college professor Murray Sabrin. Zimmer was leading Pennacchio, 46-39, with 69 percent reporting.

Andrews surprised and angered many of his fellow New Jersey House Democrats when he announced his intention to challenge Lautenberg, and most of them quickly coalesced behind the incumbent. They and many other Democrats in the state hammered Andrews repeatedly for his alleged disloyalty, though Andrews did retain some support in the southern part of the state, where his current 1st district is located. Lautenberg, meanwhile, highlighted Andrews' initial support for the Iraq war.

The contest turned particularly nasty when Andrews raised the age issue, airing an ad reminding voters that Lautenberg once made an issue of an older opponent's age in a 1982 campaign, and that he would be 91 when his next term begins (the ad was technically incorrect; he'd actually be 90 for the first few weeks of the term).

Though Andrews lost badly today, his congressional career may not be quite over yet. His wife, Camille Andrews, won the Democratic primary today to succeed her husband in the 1st district. But politics in New Jersey is often still of the old-fashioned, party-boss variety, and Democratic leaders are talking openly about replacing Camille Andrews on the ballot with another candidate after the primary. Who might they consider as her replacement? How about an experienced, proven lawmaker like .... her husband?

By Ben Pershing  |  June 3, 2008; 10:34 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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