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Ensign Praises Estabrook for Launching Senate Bid

Businesswoman Anne Estabrook (R), a former chairwoman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, officially filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday to take on Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) in 2008.

In a statement, Estabrook said she is running in part because New Jersey is facing “a true affordability crisis.”

“Whether it is young families unable to buy a first home, working families struggling to make ends meet, or seniors who are selling their lifelong homes because they can’t afford the tax bills — New Jersey is simply becoming unaffordable,” she said. “Frank Lautenberg would make it worse by raising taxes again. That is the wrong direction. I will oppose higher taxes and take a businesslike approach to appropriations — cut the waste, demand results, and only support programs we can afford.”

Although Estabrook isn’t the only Republican who has expressed interest in challenging Lautenberg — state Assemblyman Joseph Pennacchio opened an exploratory committee a month ago — her entry into the race was hailed by National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign (Nev.).

“I am excited that people like Anne step forward and agree to run for public office,” Ensign said in Estabrook’s news release. “She is a business leader who knows how to get things done and to make a difference. This is a race we can win.”

While the Garden State remains a Democratic stronghold, some recent polling has indicated that, at 83, Lautenberg’s age is becoming more of a factor in the minds of New Jersey voters. But despite those polls, any Republican would face an uphill battle against a well-known and well-funded Democratic commodity like Lautenberg. The last time a Republican was elected to the Senate from the Garden State was in the early 1970s.

Meanwhile, the 2008 fundraising battle between the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and and NRSC has not gone well for the GOP. That means the GOP committee likely will have little money to spare on a long-shot bid in the state.

— John McArdle