- United States Senate election in New Jersey, 2006
United States Senate election in New Jersey, 2006 2000 ← November 7, 2006 → 2012 Nominee Robert Menendez Thomas Kean, Jr. Party Democratic Republican Popular vote 1,200,843 997,775 Percentage 53.3% 44.3%
Senator before election
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The 2006 United States Senate election in New Jersey was held on November 7, 2006. Incumbent Democrat U.S. Senator Bob Menendez will represent New Jersey in the United States Senate for a six-year term ending January 2013. The seat was previously held by Democratic Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine. After he stepped down from his Senate seat and was sworn in Governor, Corzine appointed Rep. Menendez, who was sworn in on January 18, 2006. Menendez was challenged by Republican Thomas Kean, Jr. and seven other candidates. Filing for the primary closed on April 10, 2006. The primary election was held on June 6, 2006. Menendez became the first Hispanic to hold a U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey, and was the first Latino elected to statewide office in the state.
- James Kelly, former Gubernatorial candidate
- Bob Menendez, incumbent and former U.S. Congressman from Union City
Menendez won the Democratic primary, with 86% of the vote, against James D. Kelly, Jr.
Ginty represented the conservative wing of the New Jersey Republican party. Kean is a moderate, who is the son of the former Governor of New Jersey Thomas Kean. Important factors in Kean's primary victory were his father's name recognition, along with Kean's self-described persona as a clean-cut corruption fighter.
A showdown between Bergen County Republican Organization (BCRO) conservatives and a group of insurgent moderate Republican critics ignited into a shoving match between supporters, with Kean temporarily refusing to accept the BCRO's endorsement of his candidacy, and refusing to run with the BCRO slate of nominees for the offices of County Executive, Surrogate, and Freeholder. As a result, Ginty was drafted by Bergen County conservatives to fill out the conservative slate of candidates in Bergen County for the Republican primary. Kean eventually accepted the BCRO endorsement.
Ginty's entrance into the primary complicated matters for Kean, who had to consider moving to the right to secure the Republican nomination, something that would likely hamper his chances of defeating Menendez in November. Kean's supporters have argued there is virtually no chance for a pro-life, anti-gay marriage Republican to win a statewide election in New Jersey, where 66% of the voters are self-identified as pro-choice and polls illustrate a distinct majority support gay marriage.
On March 20, 2006, Kean arrived late to a fundraising event for his campaign, after featured guest Vice President Dick Cheney had left, which some accused of him doing deliberately to avoid photographs of the two, together, that could be printed in the media.
On March 27, 2006, at a news conference billed as a "major announcement", Kean called for state and federal tax cuts, asking Menendez and Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine to support them. In response, Matthew Miller, a spokesman for Menendez, said the U.S. senator supports "balanced tax cuts," not just ones that benefit the wealthiest Americans while expanding national debt.
On April 1, 2006, at the Middlesex County Republican Convention, Kean won the endorsement for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate (in other words, Kean was chosen as the county organization's recommended candidate for the June primary) over Ginty by a vote of 79% to 21%. However, the deadline for local Republicans to register to attend the convention had passed before Ginty announced his candidacy.
The New Jersey Right To Life Political Action Committee endorsed Ginty on April 27, 2006.
On May 2, 2006, Ginty publicly called on Kean to stop soliciting the endorsement of the Sierra Club. Ginty said Kean should not seek their endorsement because the Sierra Club is an "environmental extremist group with a deep history of involvement in left-wing causes".
Kean won by a 3-1 margin.
- Daryl Mikell Brooks - "Poor People's Campaign"
- Brooks (from Trenton) is a former candidate for New Jersey's 12th congressional district in 2004.
- J.M. Carter - "God We Trust"
- Carter (from Lawrence Township (Mercer County) is a minister & former candidate for U.S. Senate in 2000.
- Len Flynn - New Jersey Libertarian Party
- Flynn (from Marlboro) is a long-time Libertarian Party activist. Supports reductions in spending, taxes and the size of the Federal government.
- Ed Forchion - "Legalize Marijuana (G.R.I.P.)"
- Forchion, also known as Weedman, (from Pemberton Township) is a Rastafarian. Supports religious tolerance and the decriminalization of marijuana.
- Angela L. Lariscy - Socialist Workers Party
- Lariscy (from Newark) is a sewing machine operator and trade unionist. Supports amnesty for all undocumented immigrants, abortion rights and opposes the Iraq War.
- Pason (from Maywood) is a social justice activist and former union official. Supports abortion rights and socialized healthcare, and opposes the Iraq war.
- N. Leonard Smith - "Solidarity, Defend Life"
- Smith (from Hammonton) is a retired teacher, Korean War veteran and former member of the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Opposes abortion, judicial activism and supports veterans services.
- Anthony B. Fisher- "Results, Not Rhetoric"
In a September 2006 poll, SurveyUSA found that Governor Jon Corzine received an approval rate of only 43%, with 48% of the state disapproving. Since Menendez had been appointed by Corzine, some pundits argued that this would be a resonating factor with a number of voters.
According to a separate September 2006 poll, SurveyUSA found that the state of New Jersey had a rather high disapproval rating for Republican President George W. Bush, with 64% disapproving and only 32% approving. This led some to argue that voters would take their discontent with Bush out on Kean in the November election.
Indeed, some pollsters demonstrated that concerns over the Iraq War and discontent with President Bush solidified the Democratic base in October's advertising blitz, and won over enough independents to seal of fate of the Republican nominee. On the eve of the election, Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Poll reported that 65% likely voters said that the US invasion of Iraq was a mistake, "including nine of ten Democrats and six of ten independents." Observers also pointed out that "from the beginning, [Menendez] made much of his 2002 vote against the Iraq War Resolution, often referring to it as one of the most important votes of his career. He made it clear as well that he intended to make the race a referendum on the President."
Others attributed Kean's early strong showing in the polls of this blue state to uninformed voters confusing the three-year state senator with his father, the popular former governor and 9/11 Commission chairman.
On June 13, 2006, Kean held a fundraiser in Ocean County featuring First Lady Laura Bush. It was here that both Senator Kean and Mrs. Bush pointed out that Kean is not George W. Bush, claiming that Senator Menendez seems to confuse the two.
On June 16, 2006 at a New Jersey Association of Counties speaking event in Atlantic City, Kean and his aides beat a hasty retreat from the ballroom engagement and "stampeded" into an elevator in an abortive attempt to avoid the press, only to exit on the same floor as they had entered. Kean declined to answer questions about the scathing attacks on his integrity which his opponent had delivered minutes earlier, instead opting to repeat "a few slogans."
In late June, the Associated Press reported that Kean's campaign was planning a "Swift Boat"-style film accusing Menendez of involvement in a New Jersey mob-connected kickback scheme "despite public records and statements disputing that claim." The AP article noted that "[f]our former federal prosecutors who oversaw the case have said Menendez was never involved in any wrongdoing." The airing of unsubstantiated allegations years or even decades old is a hallmark of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign attack style, which gained notoriety during the 2004 U.S. presidential election.
In mid-September, The Star-Ledger reported that Sen. Menendez had declined a national debate with Kean on the popular Sunday morning talk-show, Meet the Press. A Menendez spokesperson stated that the incumbent Democrat would prefer to focus on local citizens and press. Menendez did agree to take place in three locally-aired debates with Kean, which will be aired between October 7–17. Kean withdrew from one of the scheduled debates to which he had previously committed, an October 14, 2006, debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters, insisting on a national TV debate as a condition of his participation.
Both candidates have agreed to participate in a virtual debate sponsored by the nonpartisan Hall Institute of Public Policy - New Jersey which provides "an unprecedented opportunity for candidates and citizens to engage in an interactive forum on the important issues confronting" New Jersey. Beginning in July and running through Election Day in November, the institute will submit questions to the candidates and then post their responses on its website. As of October 6, 2006, responses to six questions have been posted (see External Links below).
The Kean headquarters was vandalized during the night before the general election. Vandals chained and locked the doors to the headquarters and broke off keys within the locks, attempting to hinder the Kean campaign. The Menendez campaign has denied any involvement.
During 26 years in politics, Menendez has faced some unflattering editorials and reports in local newspapers. In 2005, op-eds in the New York Times and Star-Ledger have complained of bossism by Menendez, claiming he runs Hudson County as a political machine. The Bergen Record has made an issue of his campaign spending, claiming the majority of his recent spending is not for traditional campaign activities such as advertising. Despite the allegations noted above, Menendez has never been charged or prosecuted for any crime related to his 26 year political political career. Indeed, a New York Times article in June, 2006, reported that the charges of ethical misconduct conflict with historical accounts and records which portray Menendez as crusading against the very corruption of which he stands accused.
On August 27, 2006, two Republican state lawmakers filed an ethics complaint against Menendez, alleging he broke conflict-of-interest rules when he collected more than $300,000 in rent over a period of nine years from a nonprofit agency which he aided in winning millions of dollars from federal funds. Menendez questioned the timing of the complaints, based on events of 14 years ago, so close to the election: "We have seen an orchestrated series of leaks, bogus ethics complaints and outright fabrications since the beginning of this campaign." The ethics complaint stated that Menendez's actions while a Congressman violated the ethics rules of the House of Representatives. For his part, Menendez maintains that he received verbal clearance from the House Ethics Committee in 1994 before entering a lease agreement with the organization. On September 8, Menendez identified Mark Davis as the committee lawyer whom he consulted. However, Roll Call reported that Davis left the ethics committee in 1993, prompting Menendez campaign spokesman Matt Miller to offer an alternate explanation: "It was his recollection that he talked to him about this, but it must have been someone else. It was 12 years ago." Governor Corzine, who appointed Menendez in January to serve out the remaining year of his own Senate term, said the investigation "has the appearance of being less than objective". Meanwhile, in response to charges of Republican complicity in spurring the investigation, Tom Kean said his campaign "absolutely" did not have any contact at any point with the U.S. Attorney's Office regarding the probe.
As of September, 2008, the NJ US Attorney's repeated and multiple investigations of Menendez's alleged corruption have still failed to generate a single indictment.
On September 28, 2006, The Star-Ledger reported that Sen. Menendez had fired his closest political adviser for seeking favors on behalf of then-Representative Menendez. A tape recorded in 1999 reveals the adviser, Donald Scarinci, asking a Hudson County psychiatrist named Oscar Sandoval to hire another physician as a favor to Menendez. He also states that he had helped Davila Colon, who worked in Menendez's congressional office from 1992–1997, get a job with Carl Goldberg, a developer and big fundraiser for Bob Menendez. A spokesperson for the Menendez campaign stated that "Scarinci was using Menendez's name without his authorization or his knowledge."
On September 15, 2006, The Star-Ledger reported, "the same day state Sen. Tom Kean voted twice to let Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey keep a $40 million tax exemption, he collected $13,300 in contributions for his U.S. Senate race from 17 company executives and their family members. Kean cast the votes on the final day of the fight over the 2005 state budget and on the day of those votes, records show Kean received $13,300 in campaign donations from the Horizon executives, including $4,100 from Horizon CEO and president William Marino and his wife, Paula. The news report noted, "Aides to Kean said there was no connection between the votes and the contributions."
Democratic-advocacy site Blue Jersey alleged that a member of the Kean campaign was posing as a disillusioned Democrat when posting comments critical of Menendez on the site. The Kean campaign denied the charges, but major newspapers (such as the New York Times and the Star-Ledger) reported that the IP address used to make the comments was identical to one used by Kean campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker in official emails. The Kean campaign could not explain this discrepancy, but both Hazelbaker and Kean denied that she had been involved. The same IP address was also used to make multiple edits to Wikipedia pages linking Menendez to the accusations of corruption that were a centerpiece of Kean's campaign strategy.
The Kean campaign also drew scrutiny over its relationship with opposition researcher Christopher Lyon. Kean staffers denied that Lyon worked for Kean directly. A New York Times article about Lyon's role includes Hazelbaker's response to the issue:
"I think the selective outrage here is a little laughable," said Hazelbaker, a Kean spokeswoman, who added that Mr. Menendez's former law partner, who was at his side when he was sworn in as a senator, had been convicted of dealing cocaine.
According to the New York Times, Kean was defeated in part because he "built a campaign around his portrayal of Mr. Menendez as a shady, self-dealing, machine-produced Hudson County boss who hangs out with criminals. When asked about his views on Social Security or the Iraq war, Mr. Kean frequently mentioned that his opponent was 'under federal criminal investigation.' " In a poll, NJ voters tended to blame Kean rather than Menendez for negative campaigning. A later NY Times editorial stated, "The Republican candidate, Thomas Kean Jr., based his campaign almost exclusively on negative ads and attack-dog accusations against his Democratic opponent, Robert Menendez. For a while, it looked like the strategy might pay off, but in the end Senator Menendez was elected by a comfortable margin. Voters in several polls criticized Mr. Kean’s strategy." 
According to one observer, the Democratic candidate framed his race as referendum on the Republican president and the US military involvement in Iraq. Menendez, while still in the House of Representatives, voted against the Iraq War Resolution of 2002. He subsequently argued that, "even knowing that there were no weapons of mass destruction, Tom Kean Jr. has continually said he supports the war in Iraq and would have voted for it." Kean responded that Menendez "has traditionally been on the fringe of his own party. The case [for war] was clearly made with people who had far better information than he did." Kean's strategy was "to make the race on state level issues: corruption and taxes." But though voters thought the state was headed in the wrong direction, the Democratic governor's approval ratings among likely voters was strong headed into the November election.
The Sierra Club, which had endorsed both candidates in some of their past races, endorsed Menendez for the Senate, citing his "15-year, extremely strong record on many federal [environmental] issues -- often achieving a League of Conservation Voters voting record of 100%." 
The New Jersey Educational Association PAC's Operating Committee (NJEA PAC) also endorsed Menendez.
Since the publication of an August 4, 2006, Rasmussen poll showing Menendez ahead, 44% to Kean's 38%, Kean appeared to surge into the lead according to subsequent Zogby, Monmouth, Quinnipiac, and Fairleigh Dickinson polls, outpolling Menendez by varying differences within the margin of error. However, on the heels of an advertising blitz, Menendez has reclaimed the lead in the most recent FDU, Mason-Dixon, Gallup, and Zogby polling. In light of to the race's volatility, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, Congressional Quarterly, and Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball shifted the race from "Leans Democratic" to "Toss-Up" or "No Clear Favorite" in their early September revisions despite the state's historically strong Democratic tilt.
New Jerseyans had not seen a summer poll with a Republican leading in a race for United States Senator since 1972, when incumbent Clifford Case led former Congressman Paul Krebs by a 44%-22% margin. (Case won the race 63%-35%.) Here are some past summer polling numbers from the Eagleton Institute archive:
- 1990: Incumbent Bill Bradley led Christine Todd Whitman by 46 points, 62%-16%. Bradley won in November by a 50%-47% margin.
- 1994: Incumbent Frank Lautenberg was ahead of Assembly Speaker Chuck Haytaian by a 55%-29% margin, and won 50%-47%.
- 1996: In the race between two Congressmen for Bradley's open seat, Democrat Bob Torricelli led Republican Dick Zimmer by eight points, 39%-31%. Torricelli won, 53%-43%.
- 2000: Competing for Lautenberg's open seat, former Goldman Sachs CEO Jon Corzine had an eight point lead over GOP Congressman Bob Franks, 39%-31%. Corzine won the seat, 50%-47%.
- 2002: Incumbent Bob Torricelli led Republican Douglas Forrester by fourteen points, 43%-29%. By the end of September, Forrester had seized the lead and Torricelli withdrew. Frank Lautenberg entered the race in his place, and won the seat by ten points, 54%-44%.
Source Date Menendez (D) Kean Jr. (R) OnPoint Polling and Research November 6, 2006 50% 41% Quinnipiac November 6, 2006 48% 43% Strategic Vision (R) November 6, 2006 49% 42% USA Today/Gallup November 5, 2006 50% 40% Mason-Dixon/MSNBC-McClatchy November 5, 2006 48% 41% Monmouth University/Gannett November 5, 2006 45% 42% WNBC/Marist Poll November 4, 2006 50% 42% Rasmussen November 3, 2006 48% 43% Fairleigh Dickinson/PublicMind November 2, 2006 48% 38% Reuters/Zogby International November 2, 2006 49% 37% Rutgers/Eagleton November 2, 2006 46% 42% Quinnipiac October 31, 2006 49% 44% CNN/Opinion Research Corporation October 31, 2006 51% 44% Strategic Vision (R) October 31, 2006 43% 42% Rasmussen October 30, 2006 49% 44% CBS News/New York Times October 26, 2006 40% 39% Rasmussen October 25, 2006 45% 45% Bennett, Petts & Blumenthal (D) October 23–25, 2006 45% 36% Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg October 24, 2006 45% 41% Mason-Dixon/McClatchy-MSNBC October 24, 2006 45% 42% Monmouth University October 22, 2006 48% 39% Rasmussen October 14, 2006 42% 39% Quinnipiac October 12, 2006 49% 45% USA Today/Gallup October 6, 2006 46% 43% Reuters/Zogby October 5, 2006 46% 35% Fairleigh Dickinson October 5, 2006 46% 39% Strategic Vision (R) October 5, 2006 41% 46% Mason-Dixon/MSNBC October 2, 2006 44% 41% WNBC/Marist Poll September 30, 2006 37% 42% Rutgers/Eagleton September 28, 2006 45% 44% Rasmussen September 25, 2006 40% 41% Monmouth University September 24, 2006 38% 44% Quinnipiac September 20, 2006 45% 48% Strategic Vision (R) September 14, 2006 40% 44% Rasmussen August 31, 2006 39% 44% Fairleigh Dickinson August 30, 2006 39% 43% Strategic Vision (R) August 17, 2006 42% 40% Rasmussen August 4, 2006 44% 38% Public Opinion Strategies (R) August 2, 2006 38% 39% Fairleigh Dickinson July 20, 2006 43% 40% Quinnipiac July 17, 2006 38% 40% Monmouth University July 17, 2006 38% 37% Strategic Vision (R) July 12, 2006 43% 37% Rasmussen June 27, 2006 46% 40% Rutgers/Eagleton June 23, 2006 42% 38% Strategic Vision (R) June 16–18, 2006 38% 36% Quinnipiac June 7–13, 2006 43% 36% Rasmussen May 26, 2006 37% 40% Strategic Vision (R) May 12–14, 2006 35% 35% Quinnipiac April 18–24, 2006 40% 34% Rasmussen April 18, 2006 36% 43% Strategic Vision (R) April 14, 2006 32% 34% Fairleigh Dickinson April 6, 2006 38% 42% Rutgers/Eagleton April 4, 2006 40% 35% Rasmussen March 31, 2006 39% 41% Quinnipiac March 20, 2006 40% 36% Strategic Vision (R) March 10, 2006 30% 32% Fairleigh Dickinson March 6, 2006 42% 37% Rasmussen February 14, 2006 39% 36% Strategic Vision (R) February 8, 2006 28% 33% Quinnipiac January 25, 2006 38% 36% Rasmussen January 25, 2006 35% 42% Fairleigh Dickinson January 16, 2006 25% 37% Quinnipiac December 15, 2005 44% 38% Rasmussen December 7, 2005 38% 34% Quinnipiac November 22, 2005 41% 39%
United States Senate election in New Jersey, 2006 Party Candidate Votes % ±% Democratic Bob Menendez (inc.) 1,200,843 53.3% +3.1% Republican Thomas Kean, Jr. 997,775 44.3% -2.8% Libertarian Len Flynn 14,637 0.7% +0.4% Marijuana Edward Forchion 11,593 0.5% Independent J.M. Carter 7,918 0.4 +0.2 Independent N. Leonard Smith 6,243 0.3% Independent Daryl Brooks 5,138 0.2% Socialist Workers Angela Lariscy 3,433 0.2% +0.1% Socialist Gregory Pason 2,490 0.1% +0.0% Majority 203,068 9.0% Turnout 2,250,070 Democratic hold Swing 3.26%
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- ^ N.J. GOP Senate Candidate Faces Threat in June Primary, FoxNews, April 25, 2006
- ^ Cheney, but no candidate, at fundraiser, United Press International, March 21, 2006
- ^ Tom Kean for U.S. Senate press release
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- ^ APPROVAL RATINGS FOR ALL 50 GOVERNORS AS OF 09/21/06
- ^ APPROVAL RATING FOR GEORGE W BUSH AS OF 08/15/06
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- ^ "New Jersey's New Senator", The New York Times, December 9, 2005
- ^ Tom Moran, The Past May Haunt Future For Menendez, The Star-Ledger, November 23, 2005
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- ^ Herb Jackson, "Fund Raising Is Menendez’s Meal Ticket," The Record (Bergen County), March 12, 2006
- ^ Jim Dwyer, "New Jersey Senator's Rival Faults Him in 80's Corruption Case, but History Disagrees", New York Times, June 25, 2006
- ^ a b c Menendez questions timing of reported federal probe, Press of Atlantic City, September 8, 2006
- ^ "Pair accuse Menendez in conflict", The Star-Ledger, August 28, 2006
- ^ a b "Menendez defends himself, denounces timing of probe", The Star-Ledger, September 9, 2006
- ^ Deborah Howlett, "Democrats question donations to Kean: Horizon gave $13,300 on day of a big vote", The Star-Ledger, September 15, 2006
- ^ A Blog Suspects That an Aide to Kean Posted Jabs at Menendez, The New York Times, September 21, 2006
- ^ Kean aide denies a hand in blog hits on Menendez, Star-Ledger, September 21, 2006
- ^ Edits made by 188.8.131.52, Wikipedia, September 21, 2006
- ^ BUSTED: Why is the Kean-Jr. campaign lying to the media?, Blue Jersey, September 21, 2006
- ^ Laura Mansnerus and Mike McIntire (October 5, 2006). "A Behind-the-Scenes Player Draws Notice in New Jersey". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/05/nyregion/05hudson.html. Retrieved 2008-04-11.
- ^ New York Times, November 12, 2006. "In politics, sometimes mud sticks to the thrower" by Laura Mansurus
- ^ New York Times, November 19, 2006, "The Low Road, Revisited"
- ^ Peter J. Woolley, "Menendez v. Kean: National versus Local Issues in New Jersey," in The Sixth Year Itch: The Rise and Fall of the George W. Bush Presidency, Larry J. Sabato, ed. (New York: Pearson, 2008), p. 248.
- ^ a b "Garden State Grapple", from Newsweek Politics on MSNBC website, September 15, 2006
- ^ Peter J. Woolley, "Menendez v. Kean: National versus Local Issues in New Jersey," in The Sixth Year Itch: The Rise and Fall of the George W. Bush Presidency, Larry J. Sabato, ed. (New York: Pearson, 2008), p. 246.
- ^ "Backlash Issues Don't Sting Menendez," Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Poll. 3 Nov. 2006 accessed 8.24.11.
- ^ "Menendez Endorsed for US Senate", from The Jersey Sierran, October–December 2006
- ^ (Press Release) "NJEA PAC Congressional Endorsements," Aug. 5, 2006.
- ^ "2006 Senate Ratings", Cook Political Report, September 7, 2006
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- ^ SurveyUSA News Poll, SurveyUSA, September 18, 2006
- ^ APPROVAL RATINGS FOR ALL 100 U.S. SENATORS AS OF 09/26/06, SurveyUSA, September 26, 2006
- ^ Official List: Candidates for US Senate For November 2006 General Election, New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Elections, dated December 4, 2006. Accessed September 26, 2007.
New Jersey U.S. Senate elections
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