NJ-Sen: A Replay of 2006's Akaka-Case Primary?
by Jonathan Singer, Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 06:58:13 AM EDT
Back in 2006, we saw an interesting development in the state of Hawaii: A centrist Democratic Congressman decided to challenge a longstanding more progressive Democratic Senator in the party primary. In that case, the then 82-year old Daniel Akaka defeated the significantly younger and more conservative Ed Case by about 9 points, 54.2 percent to 45 percent. Now are we seeing the same situation again? Take a gander at this news:
Rob Andrews, a ten-term Congressman from Camden County, will challenge incumbent Frank Lautenberg in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. Andrews, 50, said on Monday that he was considering a campaign against the 84-year-old four-term Senator.
A race between Lautenberg and Andrews is one that presents some real differences about what it means to be a Democrat, a choice between someone unafraid to stand up for the progressive ideal and someone who can be goaded by the right into making some questionable decisions. For instance, take a look at this picture:
To the far right, you'll notice Andrews standing with George W. Bush upon the signing the the authorization of military force against Iraq. At the time, Andrews wrote, "Yesterday, I joined with President Bush and a bipartisan coalition of Senators and House members to announce that we have approved the final text of the Iraq Resolution... I am honored to have worked closely with the President to develop this bipartisan proposal because I believe that Saddam Hussein poses a very clear and present threat to the entire world."
In the time since that vote, Andrews has voted for other whoppers as well. For instance, he twice voted with the President to continue the Iraq War (Roll Call 425, 2007; Roll Call 220, 2005); voted against prescription drug reimportation (Roll Call 806, 2007); voted in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts (Roll Call 308, 2007); and voted for a constitutional amendment banning flag burning (Roll Call 296 2005). More recently, just in February, Andrews voted President Bush's position on FISA, opposing an extension (Roll Call 54, 2008).
In contrast to all of this "centrism" from Andrews, Lautenberg comes in with the highest Progressive Punch score of any Senator this Congress. Although it's an apples to oranges comparison (because votes in the House are different from those in the Senate), Lautenberg comes in with a 93.29 lifetime score compared with Andrews' 80.69 lifetime score. (Blue Jersey has even more of a comparison of their votes, if you're interested.)
So with all of this in mind, will the voters in New Jersey do what the voters in Hawaii did two years ago: Say no to a challenge to an older more progressive Senator by a younger more centrist Congressman? We'll have to wait to see how everything plays out. But if you were to believe early polling on the race from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, it looks like New Jersey Democrats are more than happy to stay with Lautenberg rather than move to Andrews -- to the tune of 57 percent to 22 percent, to be exact.