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U.S. Senator Cory Booker. Photo courtesy of Cory 2020.

No white men seeking Cory Booker’s Senate seat

Republicans haven’t won a U.S. Senate race in New Jersey since 1972

By David Wildstein, March 27 2020 10:24 am

The only certainty in New Jersey right now  is that neither party will nominate a white man for the United States Senate.  That’s because out of the seven candidates, two are African American, two are South Asian, two are women, and one is Latina.

Republicans have a four-way primary to pick a candidate for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Cory Booker, who must first win his own primary against the chairman of Bernie Sanders’ New Jersey campaign.

Booker, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination until early this year, faces Lawrence Hamm, a 1970s era Newark school board member and a top Sanders supporter.

Initially, the genesis of the Hamm campaign was to help Sanders by giving him a running mate if he had to run his own organization lines in a pivotal New Jersey primary.

The roller-coaster of New Jersey politics has changed that.  For a while, the possibility existed that Sanders was on his way to becoming the Democratic nominee and several county chairs fretted that they might even wind up giving the Vermont senator their line.  That might have forced Sanders to decide if he wanted to run with Booker or Hamm in those counties.

Now it appears that Joe Biden and Booker will head the organization line everywhere in New Jersey, with incumbent Democratic House members running with them.

Sanders is still expected to file by Monday’s 4 PM deadline – Biden and President Donald Trump already have – and the assumption is that he will bracket with Hamm.

Less clear: will Sanders bracket with county and local candidates for the June 2 New Jersey primary – that was something actively considered at one point – or has COVID-19 made that less likely?

The fight for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination might be a Seinfeld contest – a campaign over nothing.  Republicans have not won a U.S. Senate race in New Jersey since 1972.  They have lost the last sixteen, and every state but Hawaii has elected a Republican U.S. Senator since then.

The candidate who has won the most organization lines is Rik Mehta, a former U.S. Food and Drug administration official and a political unknown.

Mehta has won fifteen organization lines and party endorsements.

Hirsh Singh has won four lines, including fighting back to win in Ocean County despite the party screening committee backing Mehta.

Singh has attacked Mehta for working in the Obama administration and for voting in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

Trump will run on the organization line everywhere.

Two other candidates, Tricia Flanagan and Natalie Rivera, have barely registered at party conventions and screening committees.  Flanagan has a vocal following on social media, but it’s not clear that she has votes coming her way in the primary.

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