Sunday’s news reported an amazing turn in the upcoming US New Jersey elections. While the subject is of scant interest to the majority of our readers, the sheer audacity of the gambit deserves at least a passing note.
The issue at hand is the New Jersey Senate race between Democrat (Liberal; Socialist) incumbent Robert Torricelli and Republican (Conservative; Capitalist) challenger Doug Forrester. In June, Torricelli had a commanding 14% lead and expected an easy victory. Then one of his 1996 campaign contributors was convicted of making illegal contributions and sentenced to 18 months in jail. Torricelli apologized for failing to report some campaign gifts, was reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee and everyone expected the issue to fade away into the politics as usual category.
But it didn’t. Forrester kept the issue alive, and the results of the last poll showed that people were tired of politics as usual. Torricelli had dropped from 14 points ahead to 14 points behind.
After recovering from their apoplexy, the Democratic Party decided something had to be done. Torricelli obligingly fell on his sword and, in an emotional farewell on Sunday, withdrew from the running 35 days before the election.
Now for the audacious bit. The Democrats appointed Frank Pallone to take his place and are currently trying to get him on the ballot despite the election law that clearly states all nominees must be on the ballot 48 days before the election. As a handy precedent, a couple years back in Missouri, Mel Carnahan died in a plane crash a few weeks before the election and they couldn’t replace him. That the NJ Democrats seek to swap in a pinch hitter simply because polls suggest their original candidate would have lost demonstrates their disregard for the entire election process. It is an attitude displayed all too often by politicians everywhere.
What does it all mean? Torricelli fell from grace because he flaunted the election laws. The Democrats current bait and switch tactics show they too put self-interest ahead of the law. It also shows they’re still playing politics as usual.
Hopefully, the voters will teach them a new set of rules. Stay tuned.