Senate Democrats are openly plotting about keeping Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, in the Senate — even if he gets convicted of a felony. (If Menendez were to resign or be removed from the Senate before early January, his replacement would be picked by Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who is winding down his final months in office. Remember, the Obamacare replacement bill failed by only one vote.
It’s enough to have Democrats anxious. “Many of us have a personal concern about Bob Menendez,” said Robert G. Torricelli, a former Democratic senator of New Jersey. “But there’s also an overriding concern about the Republicans’ strengthening their control in the Senate and, in the near term, being able to repeal Obamacare and 16 million people losing their health care.”
Under New Jersey law, if Mr. Menendez does exit the Senate before his term is complete, the governor would appoint a temporary replacement who would serve until the 2018 election. For now, that would give the appointment to Mr. Christie, who could appoint anyone — even himself.
Adding to the intrigue: Mr. Christie’s term ends in January, and a Democrat, Philip D. Murphy, is the heavy favorite to succeed him. Some Democrats are already discussing running out the clock to block a G.O.P. appointment.
“I don’t think Menendez has to run out and resign if he’s convicted,” said Brad Woodhouse, a political strategist and former spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, calling that a “knee-jerk reaction.”
Photo credit: Cheryl Biren