New Jersey: Christie taps Guadagno, not LoBondio
Of the 6 districts won by John Kerry that are still represented by a Republican, two will be open (PA-06 and IL-10), one is all but certain to return to Democrats (LA-02), one will either be open or fiercely contested (DE-AL) and two will probably feature highly competitive races (WA-08 and PA-15). For the DCCC, this great set-up should help them offset losses of their own.
Yet, Democrats must be slightly disappointed today that they will not have a shot at an open seat in NJ-02 - the next GOP-held district in terms of Kerry’s 2004 score. (George W. Bush prevailed 50% to 49%, four years before Barack Obama triumphed by 9%).
Ever since Republican Frank LoBiondo easily picked-up the district in 1994, he has won re-election 7 times without ever facing a competitive challenge - never prevailing by under 20%! If Democrats failed to scare him in 2006 and in 2008, it’s unlikely they can endanger him in 2010. As such, their only shot was for LoBiondo not to run: An open seat race in this blue-leaning district would have been a nightmare for Republicans to defend.
It long looked very possible Democrats would get their wish since LoBiondo was considered a very plausible running-mate for Chris Christie in New Jersey’s gubernatorial race. (Today, Press for Atlantic City confirmed that LoBiondo was a top contender and had extensive conversations with Christie himself.) Had a Christie-LoBiondo won - given the polls, Corzine is more likely to lose than not - the congressman would have resigned, triggering a tight special election in the spring of 2010.
Yet, Christie announced today that his running-mate will be Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno, a former assistant U.S. attorney. This takes care of the possibility that LoBiondo might resign - one less headache for the NRCC: NJ-02 all but disappears from the list of potentially competitive 2010 races.
A word about Christie’s choice in the context of the gubernatorial election: Lieutenant Governor selections matter even less than vice-presidential ones, but they tell us something about the type of campaign a candidate is preparing to run.
First, Guadagno’s prosecutorial profile is very similar to Christie’s: Republicans are planning to center their campaign on order and on corruption, and this development is meant to strengthen Christie’s promise to clean up Trenton. Given that Christie has no obvious expertise on the economy, could he come to regret not balancing his inexperience with his running mate?
Second, Guadagno looks like a safe pick meant to create no wave rather than to spark momentum; that’s especially the case when you compare this news to reports that Corzine is planning to tap the winner of The Apprentice’s 4th Season. The contrast tells us all we need to know about which candidate is so confident that he wants to take no risk and which candidate is so desperate that he’s willing to take gambles.
Illinois: Danny Davis leaves the House
While LoBiondo will stick in the House, Rep. Danny Davis will not. He announced today that he would run for Cook County Board President, a powerful body that has jurisdiction over more than 5,2 million inhabitants. This makes IL-07 the 17th open seat of the 2010 cycle, though only the 6th held by Democrats.
Republicans have absolutely no chance of picking-up this heavily African-American district that gave John Kerry 83% and Barack Obama 88%. Yet, Davis’s retirement could potentially affect the Democratic conference’s ideological make-up. Davis is a member of the Progressive Caucus but not all heavily Democratic districts end up in the hands of a left-leaning lawmaker. (Take CO-04, a 64% Obama district represented by a health care reform skeptic; or AL-07, a 72% Obama district represented by New Democrat Artur Davis.)
This development also has consequences on the Senate race: Last fall, Davis was one of the contenders for Obama’s Senate seat and he was believed to be considering running in 2010. His decision to run within Cook County obviously rules out a statewide bid; this makes Chicago Urban League head Cheryle R. Jackson the sole African-American candidate and it leaves the party’s left generally up for grabs.