The money quote
from the New Jersey Supreme Court ballot case came from Justice Peter G. Verniero
, a former Chief Counsel, Chief of Staff
and later Supreme Court appointee of former Governor Christie Whitman. "Didn't Mr. Forrester call for Mr. Torricelli to withdraw?" he said
in response to a protesting Republican attorney during oral arguments. "Was he expecting to run unopposed?"
That about sums it up.
campaign is now headed to the United States Supreme Court, the normal recourse
of Republicans who can't win elections with majorities but aren't inclined
to see that as the end of the story.
I've received a lot of emails in the last couple of days from people
saying I'm ignoring the importance of the deadline which prescribes that
in New Jersey candidates have to pull out 51 days before an election to have
another name put on the ballot. There's certainly a good argument there.
Just not the best argument. I'm reminded of earlier this year when Massachusetts
Democrats tried to knock Mitt Romney out of contention for the governorship
because there may have been some problem with his Massachusetts residency
status. I thought that was wrong; just as I think this is wrong for Republicans
to do. The unanimous decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court -- which is
heavily stacked with Republican appointees -- I think gives a lot of credence
to that view.
Some readers who have written in tell me that this is a recipe for
electoral chaos, that every time a candidate looks like he's going down the
tubes he can just pull out and bring in a ringer. There's a superficial
logic to the argument. But such arguments toward practical effect must withstand
some measure of logical scrutiny and this one really doesn't. When filing
deadlines come down how many candidates do you usually see rushing to cash
out their candidacies? Right, not many. The sort of people who run for
elective office just don't do that sort of thing. And in how many of those
cases is there another credible candidate waiting in the wings? Not often.
If there were, that other candidate probably would have won the primary.
Say what you will about what happened here, it's hardly likely to become