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The Menendez resignation scenario

Here’s what will happen.

Amid headlines Saturday that the FBI was investigating rumors that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) patronized prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, speculation was rekindled that the 58-year-old lawmaker may not finish the second term to which he was elected last fall.

This conjecture followed the obvious question beginning to be asked by Democrats and Republicans alike, from the Garden State to Washington: what would happen to the Senate and New Jersey politics if Menendez were forced to resign?

The most obvious change would be that, with Gov. Chris Christie certain to name a fellow Republican to the vacated seat, Republican ranks in the Senate would go from the present 45 to 46. The appointed GOP senator would then serve until the next general election (2014), when a special election would be held to fill the remaining four years of Menendez‚??s term.

It is taken for granted among New Jersey Republicans that, if presented with a vacancy in the Senate, Christie would appoint State Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos, Jr., moderate-conservative and campaign chairman for Christie‚??s winning race for governor in ‚??09. Last fall, the 52-year-old Kyrillos drew 39 percent of the vote against Menendez.

‚??It is 99 per cent certain that Sen. Kyrillos would get the appointment,‚?Ě David Norcross, former New Jersey Republican National Committeeman and state party chairman, told Human Events, ‚??Chris and Joe are very, very close.‚?Ě

Former Rep. and 1989 Republican gubernatorial nominee James Courter agreed, telling us without hesitation: ‚??If Menendez is forced to resign, Joe Kyrillos will be appointed.‚?Ě

As for Democrats, an exit by Menendez would open a window of opportunity for several office-holders who waited for years for the retirement announcement by the state‚??s other Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg. When the 89-year-old Lautenberg finally said last week he was stepping down in ‚??14, many of those who longed to replace him found themselves trumped by the Democrat already in the Senate primary, Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

So Reps. Frank Pallone and Rob Andrews‚??both of whom have clearly longed for Lautenberg‚??s seat‚??would almost surely run in a special election for the state‚??s other Senate seat if it becomes open. The same is true for the two powerhouses in the state legislature, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (Essex) and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (Gloucester).

Following Lautenberg‚??s retirement announcement last week, Rep. Rush Holt (D-12th Dist.) told the online website PolitckerNJ: “I‚??ve made no secret in previous years that I would consider the Senate at the right time.” For Holt, a scientist and son of a Democratic senator from West Virginia, the ‚??right time‚?Ě may be when seat of Menendez rather than Lautenberg is open.

Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as ‚??the man who knows everyone in Washington‚?Ě and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on what‚??s going on in the nation‚??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as ‚??Gizzi on Politics‚?Ě and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of ‚??Gizzi‚??s America,‚?Ě video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. John‚??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com