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Andrews Jumps Back Into House Race

Updated: 4:03 p.m.

New Jersey Rep. Robert Andrews (D) announced Thursday morning that he intends to seek the House seat that he previously said he would relinquish at the end of his term.

It was a decision that brought condemnation from both Republicans and even some Democrats in the state and on Capitol Hill.

Andrews is coming off an unexpected Senate primary this spring, which he lost to Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D). During that campaign, which he moved ahead with despite strong objections from his New Jersey Democratic House colleagues, he repeatedly said he would not run again for his House seat if he lost to Lautenberg.

Just two weeks ago, Andrews notified the House ethics committee that he was in discussions to take a job with Goldman Sachs, a move that appeared to put to rest continued speculation that he might find a way to return to Capitol Hill next year. Andrews indicated in a conference call with media Thursday morning that a job with Goldman Sachs was “an ideal opportunity” and that he had the opportunity “to become really wealthy,” but in the end he realized his heart was not in the position.

“It was not my intention to answer the call of my neighbors and friends who have indicated they would stand with me if I sought re-election,” Andrews said in a statement released Thursday morning. “In the past few weeks, I have reflected on the expressions of support and re-examined the needs, opportunities, values and obligations of my family. … After much deliberation, thought and prayer, I have decided that I will seek re-election to the House this fall.”

Andrews’ wife, Camille, an associate dean at Rutgers University law school, won the Democratic primary to replace him, but she has mostly been viewed as a placeholder whose spot on the ballot would allow local party bosses to hand-pick a replacement.

It now appears that Robert Andrews will be that replacement.

“The decision of who will be our party’s nominee is currently in the hands of several hundred committee people in the First Congressional District after Camille removed her name from the ballot,” Andrews said in his statement. “Camille was very interested in serving the First District, but she ultimately decided not to seek public office because in the event I decided to accept a position in the private financial sector, she did not want conflicts with her ability to serve in Washington.”

Andrews said he will now ask the county committees of the 1st district for the nomination at a meeting on Monday.

Andrews’ announcement was met with outrage by Republican Dale Glading, who released a statement calling Andrews a “compulsive liar.”

“Rob Andrews has once again gone back on his word to the people of New Jersey, revealing for the umpteenth time his uncontrollable political ambitions,” Glading said. “A man’s word should be his bond, and Rob should be ashamed of himself for breaking his promise not to re-enter the race.”

Even some New Jersey Democrats from outside Andrews’ base in southern New Jersey condemned the move by the 1st district Congressman.

At a time when many Democrats in New Jersey assume Republican U.S. Attorney Chris Christie is going to run for governor in 2009 on a message that New Jersey politicians can’t keep their word, one New Jersey Democrat said Andrews’ move “ads another plank to Christie’s platform.”

Another senior New Jersey Democrat on Capitol Hill said Andrews’ decision to seek his seat again was “appalling” and that it “makes a mockery of the New Jersey electoral process.”

The senior New Jersey Democrat added that “to assume there is going to be no ramifications would be foolhardy.”

Asked what those ramifications might be, the source said that Andrews should not expect much help from his fellow New Jersey Democrats when it comes to fundraising or supporting bills he wants to move through Congress. The source added that if New Jersey is picked to lose a seat in the next round of redistricting, Andrews’ seat would probably be the first to be put on the chopping block by the rest of the delegation.

Andrews acknowledged Thursday that “there is clearly fences to mend” with fellow Democrats on Capitol Hill and said that should he win — and he will be heavily favored this fall — he intends to do just that.