New Jersey: Saxton Can’t Prevent Primary to Succeed Him

Posted January 14, 2008 at 6:45pm

Despite retiring Rep. Jim Saxton’s (R) move last week to step off the sidelines and endorse businessman and military veteran Christopher Myers (R) in the 3rd district, Ocean Country Freeholder John Kelly (R) is expected to officially announce his candidacy for the open seat today.

Saxton’s endorsement of Myers came one day after the highly touted Democratic candidate, state Sen. John Adler, announced that his fundraising efforts had topped the $600,000 mark.

Not long after he made his surprise retirement announcement in November, Saxton said it was his goal to avoid a costly and bitter primary fight for Republicans in what immediately became a tossup district.

Like Saxton, Myers hails from Burlington County, which makes up about 45 percent of the 3rd district to Ocean County’s 40 percent.

Kelly acknowledged last week that Saxton’s endorsement was an important one to get in the primary race but added that “Jim Saxton does not get to pick his replacement.”

Kelly said he is set to reveal several high-profile endorsements of his own today. In the meantime, he said he has about $70,000 in his campaign coffers and said he plans to raise as much as $600,000 for the June primary.

Donors Answer Rabbi’s Prayers With $189,000

Democrat Dennis Shulman announced Monday that his campaign has raised close to $200,000 in the three months since he began exploring his bid to knock off third-term Rep. Scott Garrett (R) in the 5th district.

Shulman, a Harvard-educated psychologist and ordained rabbi who has been blind since he was a teenager, raised $189,220 and had $172,673 in cash on hand.

Shulman’s unique background and fundraising success has not gone unnoticed by Democrats on Capitol Hill.

“Clearly, Northern New Jersey families are eager for a new direction and are getting behind Dennis Shulman’s fight to bring change to our country,” said Carrie James, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Clearly Congressman Garrett’s record of rubberstamping President Bush’s failed policies is catching up to him and New Jersey families are motivated to fight for change.”

But before getting the opportunity to take on Garrett, Shulman must first face attorney Camille Abate in the 2008 primary. In recent months, Abate, who lost her bid for the Democratic nomination two years ago to former gubernatorial aide Paul Aronsohn, has been touting her support among several key trade and labor unions in Northern New Jersey.

Although the 5th district does include several liberal communities Garrett beat Aronsohn by 11 points in 2006, and President Bush won the district with 57 percent of the vote in 2004.
— John McArdle