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A Texas-Size Race for Governor
Thanks to an unusually crowded field, Governor Rick Perry will probably win reelection - but he may not have much to celebrate
A Republican in Trouble in Indiana
Incumbent John Hostettler has solid conservative credentials, and he voted against the Iraq war. A recipe for reelection? Think again
A Fight Over Affirmative Action in Michigan
The man behind the California racial preference ban is back at it again, this time in Michigan, where his ballot initiative could prevail over a strong, organized opposition
Courting Missouri's Moms
In one of three upper South statesthat Democrats need to win to take control of the Senate, the gender gap could make the difference
Tom DeLay's Gift to the Democrats
The controversial former House leader thought he could help the G.O.P. by getting out of this year's race. But his departure has thrown his home district into election chaos -- and very likely into the Democrats' hands
Fighting Dirty on the Net
Online political debate is not known for its subtlety--the blogosphere rewards the loudest voices and the brashest opinions...
The GOP Gets Nervous in Tennessee
In the race for the Senate, Harold Ford wasn't supposed to have much appeal outside his home base of Memphis. But now that he is in a virtual dead heat with his Republican opponent, the race is getting down and dirty
A Conservative Face-Off in Kentucky
Voters in this state's 4th congressional district have no problem with the values of Republican incumbent Geoff Davis. They have a problem with his party, and that's why his equally conservative Democratic challenger just may win
Playing the Victim in Louisiana
Democrat William Jefferson is a target of a federal corruption investigation and not welcome in his own party. But with the backing of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, he may just win reelection
The G.O.P.'s Firewall Strategy
With the Foley scandal increasing the likelihood of a Democratic win in the House, Republicans are turning their attention -- and money -- to the Senate
No Politics is Local in Ohio
Republican incumbent Deborah Pryce faces an uphill battle in her bellwether midwestern district, a clear sign that this is a very different kind of midterm election
Running from the GOP in New Jersey
In a race that may hold the key to control of the Senate, Republican challenger Tom Kean Jr. hopes to knock off a Democratic incumbent by keeping a distance from his own party
Pork Trumps Scandal in West Virginia
Democrat Alan Mollohan was supposed to be one ethically challenged incumbent that Republicans could beat. But so far, voters don't seem to agree
On the Attack in Illinois
The Incumbent governor and his Republican challenger compete to tar each other with the sins of the state's disgraced former chief executive
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News, Opinion and Commentary on the Political Issues of the Day
White House Photo Blog
An intimate look at the administration through the eyes of TIME's press corps photographers
The Senate candidate in New Jersey challenging the incumbent constantly reinforces the same point: his opponent is corrupt, so voters need to dump him and pick someone with a higher sense of ethics. Increased funding for stem cell research, a ban on offshore oil drilling in Alaska and outlawing gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers are major planks in his campaign platform. He's also been sharply critical of the Bush Administration handling of the war in Iraq, and is pro-choice and liberal on environmental issues. Now, in the wake of the Mark Foley scandal, he's called on House Speaker Dennis Hastert to step down. Though current polls show close to a dead heat, this candidate's opponent has a huge campaign war chest, enough to fill the airwaves with negative ads that could tip the race in his favor.
That's the campaign platform of and challenge faced by many Democrats around the country. But this challenger is Republican Tom Kean, Jr, the state senator and son of former New Jersey governor and 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean, who is running for the Senate in New Jersey. His contest against Democrat Robert Menendez, who was appointed to this seat earlier this year after Jon Corzine left the Senate to become governor, has become one of the most competitive and crucial Senate races in the country and at times one its ugliest.
Menendez himself has not been implicated in any wrongdoing, but many Democratic leaders in the state have been involved in scandals going back more than two decades. Kean's campaign calls Menendez "Boss Bob," alleging he operates in Hudson County politics like an old-time machine politician. A Kean aide told TIME, "We want more info on Bob Menendez. Unfortunately, you have go to prison to find Bob Menendez's friends," a not-so-subtle reference to Democratic politicians in the state who have been sent away in corruption scandals. For his part, Menendez is now attacking Kean after learning that a person hired by a Kean campaign consultant had been in contact with Democrat Robert Janiszewski, a former Hudson County executive who pleaded guilty in 2002 to accepting more than $100,000 in bribes, to dig up dirt on Menendez. Kean's campaign says this is just typical campaign research
Considering what's at stake in this race for both parties, the mudslinging is likely only to get worse. As one of the few Senate races where a Democratic incumbent is vulnerable, it could be critical to the Republicans' chances of keeping control of the Senate. Democrats, who currently have 45 seats, need to win six new seats to become the majority. And Democratic candidates are either tied or in the lead in Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Tennessee, all seats currently held by Republicans. But a loss in New Jersey by Menendez would virtually ensure that Republicans still retained control of Congress, even if they lost all those key races.