Pennacchio stumps, Estabrook glides, Bramnick watches

At my most recent New Jersey Now taping, I had the chance to meet Assemblyman Jon Bramnick from Union County, who has curiously kept his name alive for next year's US Senate nomination. He now seems to be indicating that he will wait until after November's election to make a final decision (Bramnick is independently wealthy, but the $/day figure with less than a year to raise $15 million has got to be daunting him). He has an interesting angle, though - that people are tired of the status quo and he seems to want to run a totally different kind of campaign. He does have a certain regular-guy quality that could make such a plan interesting, depending just how outside-the-box he wants to go. I'm intrigued.

Regular-guy appeal, however, is not running short chez Joe Pennacchio, who has come up with a stump speech in which he discusses his Democrat roots, his admiration for JFK and Ronald Reagan, and his vision for the NJGOP. Not much issue-related meat to it, but it's early yet. I haven't heard much from Anne Estabrook or Larry Weitzner, but an inside source described her fundraising operation as "underwhelming". Another veteran operative told me that "the Whitman crowd will write her $250 checks as a courtesy, but they're not going to do much more than that."

Still, she continues to buy up organizational support (I heard a Bergen insider describe newly-elected Chairman Rob Ortiz's modus operandi as "let's see how fast we can sell the BCRO to Anne Estabrook"). I don't think it was a good move for him to personally endorse yet as we still have 2007 elections to be concerned with!

On the other hand, Pennacchio has formed an exploratory committee, which was not entirely necessary given that he already had plenty of buzz and everyone knew he was running. Besides, the only person named was Morris County GOP Chairman John Sette. Largely, the nomination will come down to how much conservative grassroots support Joe Pennacchio manages to get (I am hearing mixed messages from those circles), how well he can leverage his Assembly relationships and convert them to organizational support, and what kind of silly gimmicks Larry Weitzner stuffs into Estabrook's "campaign in a can". And of course, does Jon Bramnick have a crazy trick up his sleeve?


InTheFreezer said...

I really find it hard to take any of these candidates seriously. I mean Frank Lautenberg is a complete waste of a Senate seat, but these people seem more of the same. Bramnick could be good, but why not raise money to run a new kind of campaign? Pennachio vs. Estabrook is like two tarantulas in a glass case from what I've seen. I think it'd be a better use of our time to get Cory Booker or Steve Sweeney to switch to the GOP and run with us.

Eric Sedler said...

This is definately an interesting race to watch, especially since I'm not supporting anyone just yet.
The organizational support for Estabrook is not suprising, she clearly has the finances to run head to head with Lautenberg while Pennacchio would have to raise a whole lot of money.
The conservative circle will either back Pennacchio or an outside candidate, Estabrook and Bramnick will never get that nod. It's interesting that there are whispers within the conservatives and they haven't jumped on Pennacchio's campaign, maybe they've never seen his voting record. (available online at njleg's site)
I've heard of Bramnick before and I was told he was an excellent speaker, but I feel that some of his support is already on board with Estabrook.Maybe he has a different strategy that will show it's face, but there's not too many more big names in New Jersey that will be giving out endorsements that can really swing a campaign.

Dino P. Crocetti said...

I continue to believe that Al Leiter is the best chance we've got to defeat Senator Prune Juice.

I am more than confident that far more people in New Jersey know who Al Leiter is than they know who Frank Lautenberg is.