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Make That SENATOR Menendez

Sources on Capitol Hill are saying that Rep. Bob Menendez (D) is Gov.-elect Jon Corzine's (D) choice to fill the year remaining on his Senate term.

The formal announcement is expected to come tomorrow, according to two sources who requested anonymity to speak candidly about private decision-making.

Menendez has been the frontrunner for weeks, and speculation grew quickly after he broke off a trip to Puerto Rico last weekend to meet with Corzine in New Jersey.

If, as expected, he is chosen, Menendez would become the first Latino senator from New Jersey.  It remains unclear whether he will face a serious primary challenge next year as he seeks a full term in his own right, although Reps. Rob Andrews (D) and Frank Pallone (D) have both left open that possibility.

The Republican nominee will likely be state Sen. Tom Kean Jr.

UPDATE, 5:21 p.m. ET: The Fix's sources are cautioning that Corzine's announcement may not come tomorrow due to a scheduling conflict in Congress.  Menendez still appears to be the choice regardless of the announcement's timing, the sources said.

By Chris Cillizza  |  December 7, 2005; 3:34 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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Next: The Risky Business of Senate Appointments


I would also add that the House has had plenty of black members for years. John Conyers has been there since 1965. It's the Senate where blacks really need more representation. The statewide nature of Senate elections makes it more difficult for black politicians to get elected to it than the House where they can run in overwhelmingly black urban districts. Thus I think using an appointment to add a black member to the Senate would have been a good way to compensate against this unfair disadvantage. Gill has little chance of getting elected to Congress anytime soon without Corzine's appointment. The fix (HA!) would be for NJ's all-Democratic state government to redraw its congressional districts so more than 7 of 13 are represented by Democrats.

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 8, 2005 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Democrats would clear the seat for her, especially since right now the favorite to take it is the Speaker of the State Assembly.

Posted by: x | December 8, 2005 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Gil may have been a good choice but lacked comes up short on the experience scale. If I were she, I would move to Menendez district and run for his seat. Dems could clear the field for her and she would probably win since it is in a solid democratic district.

I agree, African-Americans are underrepresented all across America especially at the National level. It may not be the Senate, but a congressional seat is a good place to earn your stripes.

Posted by: db | December 7, 2005 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Colorado elected a Hispanic senator (Ken Salazar-D) on the same day Florida elected one (Mel Martinez-R). While Hispanics are underrepresented in the Senate, blacks and women are also underrepresented there. Blacks comprise 12% of the US population but only 1% of the Senate. Women are 52% of America's population but just 14% of the Senate. I find this news disappointing; I was really hoping for State Sen. Nia Gill. :(

Posted by: Sandwich Repairman | December 7, 2005 5:28 PM | Report abuse

The only problem I see for Menendez is that he has never had to go through a statewide race or even an actual contested congressional campaign. I know he's tough and I would think well-vetted by Democratic leaders, but these are the same guys who gave NJ Jimmy McGreevey, missing some rather important details about his personal life. Let's see what Menendez's background, deals and money trail look like under real scrutiny. I think we have confirmed that NJ Democrats have a different code of ethics of morality then the rest of us. I have outlined it here:

Posted by: James O'Brien | December 7, 2005 5:10 PM | Report abuse

It makes common sense to choose Representative Menendez to replace Sen. Corzine because he commands a large Hispanic community in New Jersey which the Democratic Party needs. The Republicans did it in Florida, so New Jersey should not do less.

Posted by: Eric Dawson | December 7, 2005 4:31 PM | Report abuse

A first Hispanic Senator for NJ would be a great coup. Shifting demographics in unlikely states make for more exciting politics.

Posted by: taylorreigne | December 7, 2005 3:57 PM | Report abuse

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