Comments on the New Jersey US Senate race post-Torricelli
Wednesday, October 2, 2002
Comments from Daryle Hendricksen and Kenneth Stremsky
[Editor's Note: both of the following submissions to 'vox Populi' appear to have been received prior to the posting of Richard E. Berg-Andersson's Commentary entitled GARDEN STATE ELECTION FOLLIES and, therefore, should not be construed as being responses to that Commentary.]
From: "Daryle Hendricksen" <Daryle.Hendricksen@delta.com>
Being a former resident of the State of New Jersey (the first 25 years of my life), and someone who enjoys paying attention to the political entertainment that goes on there, I just wanted to throw my two cents in about a good compromise in the Torricelli situation.
Simply postpone the election.
The only thing I don't know is whether our federal election laws might prohibit postponing a senatorial election. However, there is already a NJ precedent for postponing an election, in the case of [then- Acting Governor] Don DiFrancesco's decision to drop out of the Gubernatorial election just last year.
This would give both the Democrats and the Republicans a chance to "regroup" and also allow voters to more easily make an informed decision about who they want to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate.
I would expect that neither side would like this solution, and I'm not sure which side would benefit. However, I believe that is what makes it a good compromise!
From: Kenneth Stremsky <email@example.com>
If the Democratic Party is not able to get a new United States Senate candidate on New Jersey's ballot, the Democratic Party should have a candidate run as a write in candidate.
I hope there will be at least three televised United States Senate debates between the new Democratic candidate, the Republican candidate, and other candidates for United States Senate in New Jersey.
If the voters of New Jersey do not like any of the candidates who are running for United States Senate, I hope they will write in the name of someone they do like.
I hope Congress will pass a law that puts none of the above boxes on ballots for United States Senate, United States House of Representatives, and President of the United States of America for primary elections and general elections. If a none of the above box obtains more than 50 percent of the votes cast for a particular position, another election should be held and the people who lost to none of the above should not be allowed to participate in the special election. The special election could take place a month after the election that the none of the above box won.
I think a lot of New Jersey voters will be ticked off at both the New Jersey Democratic Party and the New Jersey Republican Party for many years because of the mess both parties have created.
The Democratic Party should have run several high quality candidates for United States Senate.
The Republican Party should not be trying to make it hard for people to vote for a Democrat other than Torricelli.
Mr. Berg-Andersson, in his capacity as the Chief Researcher/Commentator for 'The Green Papers', responds...
to Mr. Hendricksen:
The Don DiFrancesco situation back in the Spring of 2001 involved the Primary Election and not the General Election last year, though it DOES provide an intriguing quasi-precedent re: the present situation in that DiFrancesco- a Republican, mind you!- dropped out of the 2001 Gubernatorial race after a statutory deadline similar to that now involved in the 2002 Senatorial race had passed (but, to be fair, only once that deadline had been moved back in time by an act of the State Legislature moving back the Primary Election itself) and a replacement candidate was then allowed to be placed on the Primary ballot. It has to be noted that the Primary date was not changed, by the way, specifically to facilitate the replacement of DiFrancesco as a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination (though the change certainly facilitated this) but rather was moved back to accommodate an ultimately unsuccessful Republican-backed challenge in Federal court to the reapportionment of State Legislative Districts according to a Democrat-backed plan.
Federal Election Law, indeed, does not allow for the postponement of a U.S. Senatorial Election in any event:
Title 2, Chapter 1, section 7 of the United States Code provides that
The Tuesday next after the 1st Monday in November, in every even numbered year, is established as the day for the election, in each of the States and Territories of the United States, of Representatives and Delegates to the Congress commencing on the 3d day of January next thereafter.
section 1 of the same US Code Chapter provides that
At the regular election held in any State next preceding the expiration of the term for which any Senator was elected to represent such State in Congress, at which election a Representative to Congress is regularly by law to be chosen, a United States Senator from said State shall be elected by the people thereof for the term commencing on the 3d day of January next thereafter.
so, no, there appears to be no provision for the postponement of a regular General Election to the United States Senate and certainly no legal way for the political authorities of a mere State of the Union to facilitate such a postponement.
However, Mr. Hendricksen's suggestion appears to be a fine attempt at a good faith compromise and, despite the intrinsic illegality (evidently unknown to himself at the time he proposed it) of what Mr. Hendricksen has suggested, I have to admit that I myself often wish that just such an option were, indeed, available (since, in reality, neither option legally/constitutionally available- putting or not putting a new Democratic Senatorial candidate on the ballot- is inherently fairer and more just than the other). Yet, can one imagine if New Jersey could postpone the election for several weeks and we then have a result come the counting of the votes cast nationwide this coming 5 November of 49 Republicans, 49 Democrats and Jim Jeffords the Independent former Republican and we're all waiting to see which Party gets its 50th seat from New Jersey? We'd all then be reliving the wait for a final outcome in the 2000 Election re: the whole Florida presidential election debacle!
to Mr. Stremsky:
It will be most interesting, indeed, to see, assuming former Senator Frank Lautenberg- the Democrat "candidate-designate" for New Jersey's "Class 2" seat in the US Senate [until he is formally approved by the State Democratic Committee this evening (2 October 2002), he is not officially a candidate]- can legally get his name on the General Election ballot, if Doug Forrester, the Republican candidate, "recognizes" Lautenberg as a legitimate Major Party opponent by deigning to debate him in the first place! I have the distinct feeling that a lot will depend on Mr. Forrester's own standing in the pre-election polls and that, if he feels the need to debate Lautenberg, he- however reluctantly- will do so.