Who will control the U.S. Congress after Nov. 7?
The answer may come down to who wins the tightly contested race in New Jersey between incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and Republican challenger New Jersey State Sen. Tom Kean Jr.
For the past 12 years, the Republicans have held a majority in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, but this year it is likely that the Democrats will pick up a number of seats.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and one third of the 100 Senate seats are up for election. Democrats need to gain 15 House seats and six in the Senate to take control.
All polls in Hudson County will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Menendez v. Kean
Menendez’s seat seems to be the only one that the Democrats are in jeopardy of losing to the Republicans in the Senate.
Menendez, a Union City native and current Hoboken resident, was born in 1954 in New York City to Cuban parents. He was elected to the Union City Board of Education in 1974.
Menendez became the mayor of Union City in 1986 and served in that capacity until 1992. Menendez also was elected to the New Jersey General Assembly, where he served from 1987 to 1991, and then to the New Jersey State Senate, where he served from 1991 to 1993.
Menendez was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives in 1992, where he was re-elected six times for the 13th District.
In January 2006, Governor Jon Corzine appointed Menendez to the U.S. Senate.
Tom Kean Jr. was born in 1968 in Livingston, New Jersey. Kean was appointed to the New Jersey General Assembly in April 2001 and was elected to a full term for the state’s 21st district in November 2001.
He was subsequently appointed to the New Jersey State Senate for the 21st district by G.O.P. county committee members in March 2003, and then elected to a full term in November 2003.
Menendez’s campaign has focused largely on national issues. He has criticized Kean for his position on the war in Iraq and the overall performance of the Bush administration.
Meanwhile, Kean attempted to make the race a local affair and has been trying to tie Menendez to past corrupt politicians in the Hudson County Democratic machine.
Race for 13th Congressional District
Also on Tuesday, voters will be able to select a U.S. Representative for 13th Congressional District, which, in Hudson County, includes parts of Bayonne, Jersey City, Kearny, and North Bergen, and all of Guttenberg, Harrison, Hoboken, Union City, Weehawken, and West New York.
Menendez resigned from this seat on Jan. 16, 2006 in order to assume the Senate seat vacated by Jon Corzine, who in turn left his Senate seat to become governor.
The heavy favorite going into the election is Democrat Albio Sires, who is currently serving as West New York mayor and 33rd District Assemblyman. Sires faces a Republican opponent and a small group of independents.
Born in the Bejucal community of Cuba, Sires and his family fled to the United States in 1962, and settled in West New York.
In 1995 he successfully ran for mayor of West New York, where he remained for the past 12 years.
Sires is also currently serving his fourth term as representative of the 33rd Legislative District, which encompasses most of the North Hudson area, and served as Assembly speaker from 2002 to 2006.
Running on the Republican ticket is Jersey City resident John Guarini, who has focused his platform on inner-city issues such as drug use and the AIDS epidemic. He has also worked predominantly behind the scenes for years with the Republican Party, and is the cousin of former Rep. Frank Guarini.
Other candidates running for 13th District are:
· Dick Hester of Newark, who is running as a Pro-Life Conservative.
· Herbert Shaw of North Bergen, who is running under the slogan Politicians Are Crooks. He has run for office numerous times and never won.
· Brian Williams of Newark is running under the Socialist Workers Party, and is also a reporter for the Militant Newspaper, a socialist weekly publication.
· Dr. Esmat Zaklama of Jersey City is running for The American Party. He ran for state Senate in 1991 and for U.S. Congress. Among some of the issues Zaklama pledges to address in the Congress including medical insurance at minimal fees for adults and free for children and the disabled; mandatory state ID cards and registrations with census bureau to flush out terrorists; reform to the justice system including no judicial immunity; and changes to Social Security reform, immigration, and education.
For a more in depth profile of the candidates go to www.hudsonreporter.com.
There are also council races going on in Guttenberg and Secaucus this Tuesday. For more information on those races, check out www.northbergenreporter.com and www.secaucusreporter.com.