In the surprise senate primary challenge in N.J. this year, Rob Andrews has made a very strong, compelling case for being elected over Frank Lautenberg. Trying to get Lautenberg to debate, much less campaign in the state, has been a nightmare, but this post is less about Lautenberg's negatives and more about Andrews' positives.
As someone who lives in Andrews' district and knows how responsive he is to his constituents, I have faith that Andrews would bring his strong knowledge and support for universities, including where I teach, Rowan University, to higher education across the country. When I heard Andrews speak in September on nuclear non-proliferation, my sense was that Andrews was committed to a peaceful, just world, and his knowledge of complex issues in the Middle East is simply astounding. Similarly, yesterday's endorsement from The Newark Star-Ledger, the largest newspaper in the state, mentioned that Andrews had the stronger grasp of health care issues and their solutions than Lautenberg, who only offered nebulous replies in return about health care. Andrews, for my money, knows much more than Lautenberg when it comes to foreign and domestic policy and would bring his policy-wonk background to important issues brought up in the senate.
On the local front, Andrews has worked hard for veterans in the state, ensuring that they receive health insurance even while on active duty, and he's worked tirelessly to preserve the Delaware River from dredging and dumping. This has earned him 100% ratings from the League of Conservation Voters and The Sierra Club, the same ratings he receives from abortion rights organizations. Andrews quietly helped Democrats in South Jersey by helping talk Republicans into switching parties, including Assemblyman Fran Bodine and the mayor of Gloucester Township. He builds coalitions, and many people, seniors, students, politicians, know him by first name simply because he's so active in the community.
Andrews has presented a strong plan to end the Iraq War, which includes the U.S. testing 75k Iraqi police and soldiers within a specific zone and withdrawing all U.S. troops out of Iraq within 12-18 months. Lautenberg has presented no equivalent plan. And Andrews has spoken extensively on stopping the high price of gasoline by regulating Wall Street speculators; again, Lautenberg hasn't responded to this domestic issue in such a convincing way.
(cross posted from tpmcafe)