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If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Chuck Todd suggests a new strategy for New Jersey Republicans: instead of fighting the Democrats' attempt to rewrite election law and appoint a new Senate candidate just because they feel like it, the Republicans should go to plan B:

Which brings us to the Republicans' next option -- if Democrats can dump their nominee for a more electable candidate, then why can't the GOP?

The ambassadorship to New Zealand has a recent history of accidental senators (Carol Moseley-Braun) holding the post. Why couldn't the White House ask Forrester to follow in those footsteps? Granted, current ambassador Charles J. Swindells might not be ready to leave just yet, but there are lots of countries out there.

So if Forrester can politely be bought off or convinced to take one for the team, the best thing would be for him to vacate his nomination in favor of one of the two Republicans who could win in this Democratic-leaning state: former Govs. Christie Whitman or Tom Kean.

This all may sound ludicrous, but if the Democrats can call "do over" with their election chances in the state, why can't the GOP?

The GOP could argue that the circumstances of the race have changed -- that had the seat been open, other more prominent and electable Republicans would have signed up.

Todd's proposal is amusing, but of course it shows why the Democratic request is so problematic. If the Democrats can do it now, why can't the Republicans next week? Why can't the Democrats do it a week later, if it turns out Lautenberg isn't as popular as they thought? Once you throw out the actual law, there's no principle that says you can't keep doing so.

"That's silly," you say. "There has to be a stopping point." Well, there is: the 51-day deadline established in the law. The legislature decided -- as is their prerogative -- that 51 days provided the optimum balance between voter choice and electoral efficiency. Ballots need to be printed. Ballots need to be mailed. That takes time, and that means that there needs to be some finality to the candidate nomination process.

And these, despite the Democratic claims, are not unusual circumstances. This is simply a candidate trailing in the polls. Torricelli didn't die. He didn't become medically incapacitated. He just realized nobody liked him. (For Torricelli, that's not an unusual circumstance at all.) A survey of nationwide elections right now would show hundreds of candidates in that situation.


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