Congressman Rob Andrews made an appearance to the Democratic Party in Hunterdon County last night, and made an appeal for support. He is making his way around the state in town hall meetings, a very effective way of getting support.
While the bar is high for the congressman to get the nomination, he did chip away at support for Senator Lautenberg.
There are some noticeable differences right off the bat: Lautenberg is much more politically progressive than Andrews. Case in point is Andrew’s support of the Defense of Marriage Act; his immediate jump on the bipartisan bandwagon in support of the Iraq War, and his support the bankruptcy bill which makes it harder for those under the financial gun to get their lives in order, and easier on credit card companies.
Now, Rep. Andrews has always been a good friend to my home county of Hunterdon, with both financial help and sage political advice . He has been there a lot, even when he was not seeking higher office. When I was running for freeholder back in 1995, Andrews came to speak a Hunterdon brunch and we became friendly. He was willing to give me his counsel as a former freeholder himself, and was generous with his time. When I became the Hunterdon County Chairman, he sought my support in his run for governor.
After that race in 1997, the Congressman was not seen much around the state for a while, mostly, I assume for his disappearing act during the McGreevey campaign. Whether his help would have been able to push McGreevey over the top is an issue buried in the sands of past NJ political races, indeed. However, it is still an issue on the minds of longstanding Democrats for sure.
That was the one question I got to ask: Would he support Frank Lautenberg should he become the candidate? His answer was an unequivocal ‘yes’.
And he mentioned the 1997 ‘mistake’ before anyone else did. Given enough time, and enough political need, almost any action can be forgiven. And in politics, forgiveness is more a necessity than a virtue.
Mostly the congressman talked about the war and the economy. Not that too many other issues were on people’s minds. Andrews was an early and strong supporter of the war, even lobbying for the support of other Democratic congressman. And unlike Senator Lautenberg who has played his presidential preferences close to the vest, Andrews has supported Senator Clinton from the start. There is a Clintonesqe ‘see which way the wind blows’ quality about his decision making at times; but perhaps no more or less than anyone else in NJ politics.
So, if Rep. Andrews wins the primary in a squeaker, I could support him. While Senator Lautenberg’s progressive political philosophy is closer to my own, there is enough that Andrews brings to the table that will make him a good Senator and worthy of support. And there is none amongst the thin and flimsy Republicans ---Zimmer, Sabrin or Pennachio, who could defeat Lautenberg or Andrews.