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Senate Jockeying Intensifies

Codey “is a sure winner, and they’re not so sure Congressmen Menendez could beat Kean. That’s the logic that’s being employed” by Democrats who favor Codey, Rebovich said.

Former Democratic presidential candidate and Sen. Bill Bradley (N.J.) is not among those being considered for a caretaker appointment. “He did surface in the last week or so for Corzine, but he’s really been invisible here since his presidential run,” Rebovich said.

Political consultant Brad Lawrence, whose clients include Corzine and Menendez, said he expects the governor-elect to announce his replacement before being inaugurated on Jan. 17, even though he is not legally able to make the appointment until he is sworn in.

And Lawrence disputed the notion that Menendez does not stack up well against Kean Jr., as polling he has conducted tells a different story.

“We would argue that we match up better than anybody both in terms of [life] story, [policy] positions and political strengths,” Lawrence said.

Some Members might beg to differ.

Less vocal heretofore, but now apparently ready to throw their hats into the ring, are Democratic Reps. Rush Holt, Bill Pascrell and Donald Payne. Pascrell said that with the New Jersey gubernatorial election over, he’s going to seriously consider pursuing the post.

“I didn’t think it was appropriate to talk about it, make an announcement, during the campaign,” Pascrell said. “The election is over, now I will seriously think about it.”

Holt described his interest as “high” for the job and wouldn’t rule out running for Senate under any scenario — whether Corzine taps a caretaker or a viable Democrat.

Holt also said he believes his chances are solid, explaining that he has a strong record in Congress and is electable statewide. “My guess is there are about four or five us who are about equal, but no one knows.”

Paul Kane and Nicole Duran contributed to this report.

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