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N.J. Senate: Momentum For Menendez?

It's no secret that New Jersey Rep. Bob Menendez (D) wants to serve out the remaining year of Gov-elect Jon Corzine's term in the Senate.  Menendez's public courtship of Corzine took a step forward Wednesday afternoon when a national Hispanic organization issued letters to two party leaders urging Menendez's appointment to the Senate.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials sent nearly identical letters to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) making the case for Menendez. "As Senate Democratic leader, we urge your leadership and influence in ensuring the appointment" of Menendez, wrote NALEO executive director Arturo Vargas in the missive to Reid.

Vargas added a warning if Menendez is passed over for the opening. "We are also committed to holding Democrat and Republican Party leaders accountable when they fail to recognize the growing Latino political clout and relegated qualified candidates to the back of the line," he wrote.

The letter is the latest in what is expected to be a series of public endorsements of Menendez to create the impression that his appointment is inevitable.  It also shows that should Corzine pass over Menendez, he (as well as the party nationally) could face a backlash among Latinos -- the nation's fastest-growing voting bloc.

If Menendez gets Corzine's nod, he's still likely to face a primary challenge next June and a tough GOP candidate in the fall. The Fix took a look at the New Jersey Senate seat in a long post filed yesterday.  Read it here.

-- Chris Cillizza

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 16, 2005; 5:20 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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