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Editorial: Inquirer Endorsements

Andrews, Zimmer for U.S. Senate

New Jersey held its presidential primaries on Feb. 5, so Tuesday's upcoming primaries for congressional seats might catch some voters by surprise.

The race receiving the most attention is the Democratic primary for Senate, where incumbent Frank Lautenberg is vying for a fifth six-year term. His opponents are Rep. Rob Andrews of Haddon Heights and Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello.

Lautenberg, 84, has reacted indignantly to the challenge by Andrews, who is well-qualified for the seat. Andrews, 50, is the better choice because he has presented a much clearer vision of where he would lead the state on job creation, transportation and health care. Lautenberg has been less convincing in presenting his agenda for improving the state's fortunes.

Further, Lautenberg and his pals are waging a heavy-handed campaign with donors, accusing Andrews of disloyalty because he changed his mind about staying out of the race. Industry executives reportedly are being told by Lautenberg supporters that their access in Congress could be curtailed if they back Andrews. That's the kind of old-style politics New Jersey needs to ditch.

The Inquirer endorses


in the Democratic primary for Senate.

On the Republican ballot for Senate, former U.S. Rep.


of Hunterdon County is the best choice. Zimmer, now a lobbyist, has the kind of moderate positions and legislative experience that would serve him well in a second go-round in Washington. His opponents, state Sen. Joseph Pennachio and economics professor Murray Sabrin, cannot match Zimmer's qualifications.

The First Congressional District in Camden County is the seat that Andrews is vacating. The Inquirer is not endorsing a candidate, owing to the foul process cooked up by party leaders.

Due to the lateness of Andrews' Senate bid, his wife, Camille, an attorney, offered to step in as a placeholder candidate against two obscure opponents, Mahdi Ibn-Ziyad and John Caramanna. Party leaders say they will later choose the "real" nominee, who may or may not be Mrs. Andrews. To protest this mixed-up process, write in a candidate.

On the Republican side,


of Barrington, who operates a national prison ministry, is one of the strongest GOP candidates for this House seat in years. He is a better choice than Fernando Powers of Blackwood, a disabled veteran.

In the Second Congressional District, The Inquirer endorses seven-term incumbent Rep.


in the GOP primary. Challenger Donna Ward, a former freelance court reporter from Mantua, cannot match LoBiondo's experience and record of service.

The Third District features the race to replace retiring GOP Rep. H. James Saxton. Of the three Republicans running, one stands out - Medford Township Mayor


. His opponents are Ocean County Freeholder Jack Kelly and lawyer Justin Murphy of Tabernacle. Myers' knowledge of issues and experience as a naval officer and vice president of Lockheed Martin give him a big edge. The winner will face state Sen. John Adler of Cherry Hill, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary.