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Menendez’s Local Party to Embrace Corzine Bid

Building on a growing list of key organization endorsements, the Hudson County Democrats will throw their weight behind Sen. Jon Corzine’s (D) gubernatorial bid on Friday.

Rep. Bob Menendez (D), a leading contender to succeed Corzine in the Senate if he is elected governor, will play a prominent role in the announcement of his home political organization.

Democratic Reps. Robert Andrews, Rush Holt and Frank Pallone have already said they are backing Corzine, whose campaign is being chaired by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D). Pallone is also openly campaigning for the Senate appointment if Corzine moves on to Drumthwacket, the state’s governor’s mansion.

If Corzine is elected in November he will appoint his Senate replacement, who will then have to run for a full six-year term in November 2006. Menendez is widely viewed as the favored pick if that scenario unfolds.

State Democrats are still waiting for current acting Gov. Richard Codey (D) to announce whether he will seek a full term in November, a move that would pit him against Corzine in the June primary.

— Lauren W. Whittington

Report: Brown Recruits Senate Race Volunteers

Secretary of State Matt Brown (D) appears to be moving closer to running for Senate in 2006.

The former director of the volunteer program City Year is apparently rounding up campaign volunteers for a possible Senate bid, the Providence Phoenix reported this week.

Brown also gave the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee a $25,000 donation in 2003.

Brown, like Rep. Jim Langevin (D), has not officially thrown his hat into the ring against Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R), but political watchers are keeping a close eye on both. A poll commissioned by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and released last week showed Langevin leading Chafee by 20 points in a trial matchup.
— Nicole Duran

Father and Daughter Among Matsui’s Foes

Doris Matsui’s (D) 11 opponents in the March 8 special election to replace her husband, the late Rep. Bob Matsui (D), include a bounty hunter, his daughter, and a former ball boy for the Sacramento Kings basketball team, The Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday.

Doris Matsui, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist and former Clinton administration official, is now the overwhelming favorite to fill out the late Congressman’s term. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote in the all-party primary, the top votegetters from each political party advance to a runoff on May 3.

But given the roster of candidates who have filed for the race, it is difficult to see who — if anyone — will represent much of a threat to the Congressman’s 60-year-old widow.

Besides Doris Matsui, two Democrats, five Republicans, one Independent, and candidates from the Green, Peace and Freedom and Libertarian parties all filed to run.

The list includes Independent Leonard Padilla, a bounty hunter and frequent candidate for office in the Sacramento area; his daughter Julie Padilla, a Democrat and law school dean; Republican John Thomas Flynn, a technology consultant and former aide to then-Gov. Pete Wilson (R); and Shane Singh, a Republican lawyer and former ball boy for the Kings.

Several more prominent Democrats thought about getting into the special election after Congressman Matsui died on New Year’s Day, but they deferred to his widow.
— Josh Kurtz

Feinstein Well-Armed for Re-election Race

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) expects to show more than $3 million in her campaign treasury when the latest Federal Election Commission reports for 2006 candidates are released next week, The Sacramento Bee reported Tuesday.

Feinstein told a group of California reporters that there is “no doubt” she will seek another term in 2006, when she will be 73 years old.

“I’m in good health,” she said. “I enjoy what I’m doing. I’ve developed skills as the years have gone on.”

Feinstein is considered an overwhelming favorite for re-election. At this point, Republicans don’t even have a sacrificial lamb-type candidate preparing to run.

— J.K.

Democrats Expected to Fight Redistricting Plan

Democrats who control the state Legislature seem almost certain to defeat Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to change the way Congressional and legislative redistricting is handled in the state, the Los Angeles Daily News reported this week.

Organized labor and other groups that traditionally side with Democrats in state affairs also appear likely to oppose the measure.

“The political equation isn’t there for Democrats to jump ship and stand with the governor against their traditional constituencies,” Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst and public policy professor at the University of Southern California, told the newspaper.

Nevertheless, Schwarzenegger’s four proposed constitutional amendments for government reform — including the measure to take redistricting out of the hands of the Legislature and place the responsibility with a panel of retired judges — are almost certain to become ballot initiatives and wind up before the voters later this year.

But state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D) and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D) told the Daily News that Democrats will prepare rival measures to compete on the ballot with the governor’s reform proposals.

“In no way, shape or form do we feel any pressure that we’ve got to hurry up and negotiate because otherwise the governor is going to pound us in the elections with a whole host of initiatives,” Nuñez said.

Schwarzenegger aides say the Democrats oppose reform at their peril.

“Democrats don’t feel any accountability to anyone other than the special-interest donors that don’t want anything to change,” Schwarzenegger’s communications director, Rob Stutzman, said.
— J.K.

Author of Kerry Attack Wants to Challenge Him

The co-author of a book attacking Sen. John Kerry (D) for his performance as a Vietnam War Swift Boat commander that was published during last year’s presidential election reportedly is not satisfied with just seeing Kerry lose the presidency.

Jerome Corsi, a conservative who never served on a Swift Boat and is not a military veteran, said he will move to Massachusetts and challenge Kerry for his Senate seat in 2008, the Boston Herald reported Tuesday.

“I’m going to do it,” he told the Herald. “I’ve got serious political aspirations now.”

Corsi said he would prefer to run as a Republican but would consider an Independent bid if the party hierarchy does not line up behind him.

The New Jersey resident said he would run regardless of whether Kerry seeks a fifth term.

Corsi is a controversial figure who has made derogatory comments about major organized religions — for which he has apologized. He also called Kerry “John (expletive) Commie Kerry” on a Web site, the paper reported.

— N.D.

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