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Bush a drag on N.J. GOP Senate hopeful

Aug. 31, 2006 at 7:25 PM   |   Comments

TEANECK, N.J., Aug. 31 (UPI) -- A new poll shows that concerns about the war in Iraq and U.S. President George W. Bush could keep a New Jersey Senate seat in Democratic hands.

The Fairleigh Dickinson Public Mind poll gives Republican Tom Kean a slight lead over U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, one that is within the poll's margin of error.

Half the respondents were asked questions about President Bush and the Iraq War before being asked about their Senate preference. Menendez had a 2-point lead among those voters, while among those who were not made to think about Bush and Iraq Kean had an 11-point lead.

"At this point, it isn't Menendez standing between Kean and the Senate: it's Bush," said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. "Worse, Kean's attempts to distance himself from the president on Iraq don't seem to be making a difference -- this month is just as bad as last month."

Kean, the son and namesake of a popular former governor, appears to be one of the few Republicans with any chance of knocking off a Democratic incumbent in November. Menendez was named to fill Jon Corzine's unexpired term when Corzine was elected governor.

The last Republican to win a U.S. Senate race in New Jersey was Clifford Case in 1972.

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