One New Jersey political consultant said Robert Andrews will likely be facing a lot of questions about his wife’s House candidacy while he’s trying to run his own Senate campaign.
“It’s a district with an enormous bench and you’re saying the only possible person ... is his wife?” the consultant said. “For a guy who’s trying to argue that he’s about change, this is the ultimate insider politics deal. ... It’s almost sad for her. She’s probably a woman of great accomplishment in her own right, but given the circumstances ... it diminishes her, which is sort of unfair.”
In their joint statement Tuesday, New Jersey Democratic Reps. Bill Pascrell, Rush Holt, Steven Rothman, Frank Pallone, Donald Payne and Albio Sires said that Andrews broke a promise he made to Lautenberg and to them last October to support the Senator’s re-election.
With his 11th-hour announcement last week, the Members say, Andrews is trying to make an “end-run” around the established process by which the party has gone about picking its nominees.
“For the past six months Congressman Andrews had every opportunity to challenge for the Senate seat,” the statement said. “Our Party's nominating process is open and fair. Yet, it was only in this past week the Congressman took any action whatsoever to pursue the seat and renounce his earlier promise. ... Congressman Andrews’ end-run around the Democratic party's open nominating process is both outrageous and unacceptable.”
The Members went on to dismiss any notion that Andrews has a serious chance in the June Democratic primary.
“Now after seven days of threats, Congressman Andrews has succeeded only in becoming a regional candidate. ... Congressman Andrews pointlessly staying in this race is exactly what the Republicans desperately need and doubtlessly want.
“It is now clear that Congressman Rob Andrews has failed to gain the necessary support to realistically compete in this race, and therefore, we urge Congressman Andrews to end his campaign.”
In a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) reiterated his committee’s support for the incumbent.
In his own campaign release on Tuesday, Andrews showed no sign that he planned to do anything but move ahead with a campaign in which he openly admits to being David to the well-financed, well-connected Goliath that is Lautenberg. The 10-term Congressman challenged Lautenberg to a series of seven regional debates before the June 3 primary where, he said, the two could meet face to face without “hiding” behind staff or surrogates.
“Senator Lautenberg has made it clear to the people of New Jersey that he should be anointed to their Senate seat rather than face his opponent in fair and open debates on the issues that matter most to our families,” Andrews said. “I sincerely hope he changes his mind and shows the voters the respect they deserve as they decide who is better equipped to represent them in the United States Senate. Senator Lautenberg can do that by facing me one-on-one so the people of New Jersey can draw their own conclusions.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.