NJ-13: Replacing Menendez
The Fix's sources are saying there will be no announcement today from Gov.-elect Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), but 13th District Rep. Bob Menendez (D) remains his pick to serve out the remaining year of his Senate term.
That means Menendez will vacate his northern New Jersey House seat early next year, leaving an opening in the strongly Democratic district. If The Fix's careful reading of New Jersey election law is right, Corzine can decide whether or not to call a special election. The Garden State has not played host to a special election for a House seat since 1950, and it seems unlikely Corzine would break with tradition and call one during his first year as governor.
When then-Rep. Jim Florio (D) was elected governor in 1989, he chose not to call a special election to fill his seat -- citing a precedent set by former GOP Gov. Tom Kean (R). During Kean's tenure as governor, he twice decided against holding special elections when sitting House members died. Those seats were won in regularly scheduled primaries and general elections by Republican Rep. Jim Saxton (1986) and Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone (1988).
If Corzine opts to call a special, the primary would have to be no less than 65 days and no more than 71 days after Corzine's formal announcement. The special general election would be set for no less than 46 and nor more than 52 days after the primary.
The frontrunner to replace Menendez is much clearer. State Assembly Speaker Albio Sires (D), who also happens to be the mayor of West New York, is clearly the favorite candidate. Sires filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission back in March and by the end of September had raised $251,000 for the potential race, with roughly that same amount on hand.
Sires said Thursday he was "very interested" in a run for Congress but would wait until Menendez's official appointment to make a decision. He has represented Hudson County, which contains roughly two-thirds of the population in the 13th, for the past four years.
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