What if Menendez resigns?

It’s not considered likely that Senator Bob Menendez will resign as a result of the bi-partisan admonishment he received from the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics.  NJ and Washington Democrats have become a much more forgiving people since Senator Bob Torricelli was forced out of office after his admonishment 16 years ago.

As Bret Stephens wrote in a Trump bashing piece in the NY Times yesterday, America’s standards have declined over the years.   Menendez’s admonishment for trading the power of his office for luxury travel and massive campaign contributions will likely blow over as the Democrats and their media partners continue their mission to destroy the Trump presidency.

But what if the Russian collusion with the Senate Ethics Committee works and Menendez decides to take a job running Dr. Salomon Melgen’s port security business in the Dominican Republic while looking over his luxury villa?

If Menendez resigns, Governor Phil Murphy gets to appoint someone to fill the vacancy until January. That person would run in Menendez’s place for a six year term in the November election. Who would Murphy choose?

Congressman Frank Pallone would be my favorite because it would cause so much chaos and resulting web traffic in MMM land.

The Democrats would have to hold a special primary to choose Pallone’s replacement on the ballot for CD-6.  State Senator and honorary volunteer firefighter Vin Gopal, Carteret Mayor Daniel Reiman, former Assemblyman John Wisniewski, Middlesex Democrat Chairman Kevin McCabe, Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz and maybe even Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik would have a spirited fight that would draw statewide media attention away from competitive congressional races in CDs 5, 7 and 11.

Republicans who persuaded Rick Pezzullo to run against Pallone would ask him to step aside in favor of any of a long list of Monmouth County Republicans who would covet the opportunity to serve in Congress…Assembly Members Rob Clifton, Amy Handlin or Serena DiMaso, Freeholders Gerry Scharfenberger and Pat Impreveduto, Middletown Township Committeeman Tony Fiore and former Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno would all have to be considered.

But Pallone, who turned down the nomination to replace Torricelli in 2002, and lost to Cory Booker in the 2013 primary to replace the deceased Senator Frank Lautenberg (who took the Torricelli seat in 2002) would have to decide if he thinks a Blue Wave will make him the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee next year.  Pallone would likely play it safe again and opt to stay in the House.

NJ Senate President Steve Sweeney moving to Washington would theoretically remove Murphy’s biggest obstacle in forwarding his socialist agenda to turn New Jersey into California East.  But Murphy, still a neophyte in the ways of Trenton, probably wouldn’t do any better with Sweeney’s replacement.

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson-Coleman would fit Murphy’s diversity agenda.

First Lady Tammy Murphy could commute to Washington via private jet from Monmouth Executive Airport.  Her $13,000 door would no longer be an issue and the Governor would have a partner he trusts in the Senate.

Congressman Donald Norcross, brother of George, the man who pulls the most strings in New Jersey politics and government, was the consensus choice of the chattering class to replace Menendez if the senator was convicted of federal corruption charges.  Murphy sending Norcross to the Senate might make George’s team in Trenton suddenly more cooperative with the governor…for a week or two.

State Senator Richard Codey, the former Senate President and former Acting Governor is a Murphy ally with no real power left in Trenton. Murphy could poke Sweeney and Norcross in the eye with a Codey appointment to the U.S. Senate.

Jim Johnson, the former Under Secretary of Treasury under President Bill Clinton came in second to Murphy in the Democrat gubernatorial primary last year.  Murphy hired Johnson as a special counsel to oversee Atlantic City’s fiscal recovery.  Johnson has the resume to be a U.S. Senator and he fits with Murphy’s diversity theme.  He would be a safe choice for Murphy.

Murphy and U.S. Senator Cory Book are slated to attend Menendez’s  Night at the Races fundraiser in the Meadowlands next Friday.  Murphy and Booker will probably show up, signally their confidence that New Jersey voters don’t care about Menendez’s corruption, regardless of how many times Bob Hugin and the NJGOP tweet calls for his resignation.


Posted: April 27th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: 2018 Elections, Bob Menendez, New Jersey, Opinion, Phil Murphy | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

3 Comments on “What if Menendez resigns?”

  1. It’s up to their said at 2:56 pm on April 27th, 2018:

    internal polling whether or not he gets to stay on their ticket. If he goes, follow the money, and that would be Norcross.. with all due respect to Mr. Hugin, on whose money the GOP is trying to even come close, with the tv ads, it is as usual, theirs to screw up and lose, which is not likely. If Menendez does retire at the usual full pension and benefits, Mr Hugin needs to hone a sharp, relevant message right now ,that isn’t the waste of tv money he is currently doing, which is, “ vote for me because he’s bad and I am not him.” Worked for Murph’s money in 2017 because of the Christie backlash, but Norcross money, or even, the union money behind Ms. Watson Coleman, as the first African American female US Senator from NJ, keeps us with yet another year with no GOP senators since Cliff Case.. Sorry to be a downer, but our chances are sadly slim to none again, this year.

  2. Dan Jacobson said at 5:56 pm on April 27th, 2018:

    “When we did become such an unforgiving people?”

    — Bob Torricelli, from his Senate resignation speech, Sept. 30, 2002

    Art, I assume your reference to Democrats becoming much more forgiving people in the first paragraph in your post above was an hilarious reference to Bob Torricelli’s resignation speech 16 years ago. If it wasn’t, just claim it was!

    All of us political junkies will remember that speech as one for the ages in terms of a self-absorbed, out-of-control ego politician. I recall that line of “when did we become such an unforgiving people” as Torricelli’s crescendo near the end. I still remember happening to catch that speech live on the radio and being just in awe of the hilarity and outrageousness of it! You must agree: entertainment-wise, it was one of the best since the age of Cicero!

    I still crack up when I think of that speech 16 years later.

    Well played, Art!

    — Dan Jacobson

  3. Art Gallagher said at 6:02 pm on April 27th, 2018:

    Thanks, Dan!

    When I wrote it, I figured only you, David Wildstein and Mike Halfacre would get the reference. 😉