The Self Made Pundit
Tuesday, October 01, 2002
THE HAIL MARY PASSING OF THE TORCH: Pundits seem unable to make up their minds whether Senator Torricelli's quitting the N.J. Senate race helps or hurts the Democrats' chances of retaining the Senate. The answer is it helps. While the legal issue of whether the Torch can be replaced on the ballot clouds this issue, the Democrats are now in a far better position.
The main reason that the Democrats are now better off is that even the mere possibility of a replacement candidate ups the Democrats' chances of keeping this Senate seat. The Torch has been in a meltdown and all indications were that voters would continue to desert him over his ethical problems. While the legal case for replacing a candidate on the ballot at this late date is problematic under New Jersey law, the equities clearly favor the Democrats. In a democracy, voters should be given a choice. I think the New Jersey Supreme Court is likely to bend over backwards to give the voters more than one major party candidate on the ballot.
Given the equities of giving voters a choice, the Republicans' efforts to prevent a Democratic candidate from making it on the ballot is likely to hurt them if the New Jersey Supreme Court does choose the democratic (with a small "d") option. The "high-minded" position of Republican Senatorial candidate Douglas Forrester that "We don't want the political process to be manipulated so badly" reeks of hypocrisy and desperation. While there is no guarantee that a new Democratic candidate will make it on the ballot, if he or she does, there should be some momentum from the legal victory over Republican efforts to give New Jersey voters an old Soviet style election with no choice.
If the Democrats succeed in getting a new candidate on the ballot, the combination of New Jersey voters' Democratic leanings, Forrester's right-wing views and the Republicans' efforts to deprive voters of a real election could complete this Hail Mary pass.