By Michael M. Shapiro
Watching the campaign of Rob Andrews for the United States Senate has been difficult. Congressman Andrews is an intelligent and thoughtful official who has a keen interest in public policy. By most accounts, he was next in line to run for the Senate when Senator Lautenberg retires in 2014 or for governor if Governor Corzine decides not to run for re-election in 2009. However, it appears that his impatience and the threat that possibly one of his colleagues might run in 2009 or 2014 encouraged him to get involved this time around. He could have orchestrated a positive issue-based campaign, thereby creating an aura of inevitability for a future run. Or he could have chosen the path he did follow: a harshly negative campaign in which a major loss means political oblivion. Or does it?
Why he chose to go the slash-and-burn-route is anyone’s guess, but after serving a decade-plus in the House of Representatives and the late night commute back from D.C., the Congressman may have outlived his stay at the House and decided it was either up or out. Therefore, he chose to go all out against Sen. Lautenberg in an attempt to win a ticket to the upper chamber. On Tuesday, voters decided that for Congressman Andrews, it was not time to move up but rather to move out.
The would-be senator/governor could have used his run to create goodwill throughout the state and positive recognition for a future attempt at higher office. Instead, he engaged in brutish politics, turning Democrat against Democrat in a short but nasty race. In the process, he made many enemies who will never consider joining a future Andrews campaign. His significant double-digit drubbing at the polls likely ended his quest for state-wide office.
Congressman Andrews now has time to rethink whether he really is willing to surrender his seat in the House, given that his wife is sitting on the line for the Congressional seat in his district. While Congressman Andrews has repeatedly said he would not seek to be placed in his old seat, he may suddenly have second thoughts since his political future is now a limited one. Residents of New Jersey as a group may not favor a switch to replace the Mrs. with Mr. Andrews. However, residents in the Congressman’s district will likely take him back and treat him like a vanquished but valiant war hero.
Perhaps that was the Congressman’s strategy all along: go for broke against Lautenberg always knowing that the worst he could do was wind up back in the seat he had held. We’ll find out when the deadline comes for replacing a candidate on the ballot in time for the general election, if not sooner.
Michael M. Shapiro, founder of ShapTalk.com, is an attorney who resides in New Providence. He currently serves as the editor of The Alternative Press, www.thealternativepress.com Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org