By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023
Presidential Debate: Seven Qualify — The second Republican presidential debate is scheduled for tonight, and Fox News announced the seven candidates who will participate. With more stringent debate requirements, it was believed that North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and ex-Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR), who both appeared in the first debate, would be disqualified leaving six participants. Former President Donald Trump also qualifies but is again declining to appear. A last minute move from Gov. Burgum, however, allowed him to earn a debate podium spot; Hutchinson failed to do so.
The seven who will be present are: Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), ex-Vice President Mike Pence, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and Gov. Burgum. Aside from Hutchinson, national commentator Larry Elder and former US Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) will also not meet the final requirements.
Debate: DeSantis-Newsom Forum Set — Continuing their ongoing public political feud, Florida Gov. DeSantis and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) have agreed to a date and state for their mutual debate challenge. The event is scheduled for Nov. 30 at a site to be determined in Georgia. Fox News will air the forum that network headliner Sean Hannity will moderate.
New Jersey: Sen. Menendez Addresses Media; Rep. Kim to Run: — Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) held an indictment response news conference Monday. His statements left little doubt that he intends to fight the charges levied against him and has no intention of resigning his seat.
Some pre-news conference reports were predicting that the senator would announce his campaign for re-election. He did not specifically address his election status, only to say that he intends to remain New Jersey’s senior senator after he is cleared. He asked the Garden State voters to reserve judgment until “all the facts are known.” But Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) isn’t waiting. Kim announced that he will file a Democratic primary challenge against Sen. Menendez.
NJ-8: Mayor May Challenge Rep. Menendez — While Sen. Bob Menendez (D) is publicly defending himself over a new indictment brought against he, his wife, and three other associates, freshman Rep. Rob Menendez (D-Jersey City), the senator’s son who has defended his father, may be looking at a serious primary challenge.
New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District is solidly Democratic. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates it as D+47. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks NJ-8 as the 167th safest seat of the 212-member House Democratic Conference. Therefore, Rep. Menendez’s more significant re-election obstacle is renomination.
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla (D) confirmed that he is considering launching such a primary challenge. Hoboken, with a population just over 53,000 residents, represents about seven percent of the 8th District’s population but is a considerably larger share of a Democratic primary vote.
Montana: Libertarians Change Bylaws — The Montana Libertarian Party has made a significant change to their party bylaws. Beginning immediately, the MLP may now officially endorse a member of another party even if a Libertarian is in the same race. This is significant because the single-digit Libertarian vote has been a thorn in the Republicans’ side since their candidates tend to draw from GOP candidates. This causes certain close races, such as in Sen. Jon Tester’s (D) past campaigns, to allow a Democrat to win with a plurality or small majority support.
Should the Montana Libertarian Party decide to endorse the Republican candidate in the upcoming Senate race and not file their own contender, it would be a plus for the eventual GOP nominee.