Congressman Robert MenÚndez of New Jersey has been selected to serve the remaining year in the Senate term of governor-elect Jon Corzine. Mr. MenÚndez currently serves as chairman of House Democratic Caucus, the third-ranking position in Democratic Party leadership.
Mr. MenÚndez, the only Democrat in Congress of Cuban descent, is known as an active fund-raiser and administrator. He was first elected to Congress in 1992 and holds seats on the International Relations and Transportation & Infrastructure committees.
The appointment brings the total number of Hispanics in the Senate to three, following the election of Republican Mel Martinez from Florida and Democrat Ken Salazar from Colorado in 2004.
For Mr. Corzine, the choice of Mr. MenÚndez provides a chance to solidify support among Hispanic voters and interest groups. Two New Jersey congressmen -- Bill Pascrell Jr. and Steve Rothman - had previously endorsed Mr. MenÚndez for the Senate seat.
According to The Record newspaper in Bergen County, New Jersey, Mr. MenÚndez's likely opposition in next year's election for a full term is State Senator Tom Kean Jr., son of former governor and 9/11 Commission chairman Thomas Kean Sr.
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