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Can GOP Take Control of NJ Senate? [AUDIO]

Democrats in New Jersey control the State Senate by a margin of 24-16, but one political expert says the natural disaster was a game-changer, and now anything is possible this November.

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Legislative redistricting following the 2010 census was designed to protect incumbents meaning most pundits believed Republicans had no shot at taking control of the Upper House in 2013 election.

“Before Superstorm Sandy we wouldn’t have even been talking about the Republicans taking the Senate as a possibility,” says Monmouth University poll director Patrick Murray. “Before Sandy we thought that the Governor (Chris Christie) could probably win in a close election and the State legislature would stay exactly as it is. After Sandy, everything changed. We have a wildly popular Governor who suddenly could have coattails and those coattails could shake things up.”

If Christie is able to win in a landslide, by 25 points or so, Murray thinks there is a chance the Senate could swing in the GOP’s favor. The Governor could be able to advance his agenda more easily with his Party controlling the Senate and it’s almost certain he would be able to get his Supreme Court nominees to have a confirmation hearing.

Should Christie decide to help Republicans retake the Upper House, Murray says he can’t do it halfway because trying and failing could hurt the Governor politically.

“The problem is if the Governor does not win these seats and the Democrats are able to hold onto control of the State Senate then you’ve got a problem with what happened during that election,” explains Murray. “You’ve got to get behind (Senate GOP Leader) Tom Kean and be sure that you’re going to be able to take those five seats or you’ve got to pull the reins back and say, ‘Don’t hurt those folks down there (South Jersey) because they’ve been willing to work with me.'”

If a couple of key Democrats were taken out, but not enough to take control, Murray says the Governor will be left with a Democratic legislature and the power structure in South Jersey, which is led by Democratic political power broker George Norcross and they will be unhappy. Christie and Norcross have been working together on key issues like the university merger.

“You’ve got to be ready to win this thing all-in,” says Murray. “If you don’t win it outright and you just hurt the Democrats in South Jersey they may be even less willing to work with you.”

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