Reps. Frank Pallone and Robert Andrews, who each had almost $2 million in cash on hand at the beginning of October, have both been raising money and actively pursuing the Corzine slot for some time, and have said they would run for the post if a caretaker is appointed.
Neither has ruled out taking on one of their colleagues in a Democratic primary if initially passed over by Corzine.
Pallone, the most public of all the New Jersey Members, said he has a good shot at getting the appointment and will continue to campaign for it.
“My chances are very good,” he said. “One of the things I keep saying is we have to be unified as a party and I think that Jon should make the appointment, choose somebody who is going to run in November. I think I’d be the best candidate. I think I can win in traditionally Republican areas.”
Top Senate Democrats declined to wade into the fray, with both Minority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Schumer leaving the decision-making to Corzine — at least publicly.
Reid said Wednesday afternoon that he and Corzine had been trading calls the past 12 hours, unable to connect, but that his effort was merely to congratulate the governor-elect.
The Minority Leader said he wants to leave the decision on the Senate appointment to Corzine, but will offer opinions of potential candidates if Corzine asks.
“If he asks my opinion, I’ll tell him what I think, but I’m going to stay out of it,” Reid said.
A source familiar with Reid’s thinking said the Minority Leader wants “more intel from Jersey politicos who know the state best,” given the volatile nature of politics in the Garden State.
Schumer said during a news conference Wednesday that he’ll be talking to Corzine soon, but that such conversations will occur “in private.” Any of the five House Members being talked about as appointments would be good Senators and any of the five could keep the seat in Democratic hands, he said.
As of Wednesday, Codey was maintaining the same position he has held all along: He hasn’t ruled out accepting a Corzine appointment or even seeking the seat on his own next year, but is inclined to serve out the remaining two years of his term as state Senate president, both for family-related and professional reasons.
Because Codey is acting governor, he did not have to resign his legislative post and remained Senate president. He will continue in this leadership position once Corzine is inaugurated.
One New Jersey official based in Trenton who is familiar with Codey’s thinking said the acting governor’s public statements are an accurate reflection of his feelings.
“He’s not playing a game,” this individual said. “He’s not sure if the U.S. Senate is compatible with the lifestyle he wants to lead.”
David Rebovich, managing director of The Rider Institute for New Jersey Politics, is predicting that Corzine will appoint Menendez.
But he said there could be a push for Codey because some Democrats believe he matches up better with state Sen. Tom Kean Jr., the likely Republican Senate nominee and son of former Gov. Tom Kean (R), who is still a popular figure in New Jersey.