WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Governor-elect Jon Corzine will name Democratic Representative Robert Menendez to fill the remaining year of his Senate term, Democratic congressional aides said yesterday.
The announcement was expected to be made as early as today, congressional sources close to Corzine said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official announcement had not yet been made.
Menendez would be the first member of a minority group to represent New Jersey in the Senate, and would be the body's third sitting Hispanic senator.
When asked about his prospects after yesterday's House Democratic Caucus meeting, which he chairs, Menendez told The Associated Press that the decision was Corzine's to make, and that he was waiting for the announcement just as everyone else was.
''I stand ready to serve," Menendez said.
Corzine's term expires in 2006. State law gives the governor the authority to fill Senate and House vacancies. Corzine was elected governor last month.
The only Republican candidate so far for the 2006 Senate race is Tom Kean Jr., a state senator and the son of Thomas Kean, the former governor and chairman of the Sept. 11 commission.
In California on Tuesday John Campbell, a Republican state senator, was elected to a vacant congressional seat in a race that placed a spotlight on national immigration policy. The election was to fill the vacancy created by Republican Christopher Cox, who represented Orange County in the House for 17 years before resigning to head the Securities and Exchange Commission.
With all precincts reporting and absentee ballots counted, Campbell had 41,450 votes, or 45 percent in unofficial returns, followed by Democratic candidate Steve Young with 25,926 votes, or 28 percent, in one of the most reliably Republican districts in the nation.
Third-party candidate Jim Gilchrist, a founder of the Minuteman Project border patrol group who made illegal immigration the centerpiece of his campaign, was third with 23,237 votes, or nearly 25 percent.
Gilchrist, a retired accountant and former Marine, complained that Campbell would not go far enough to curb illegal immigration. The issue resonated with voters frustrated with a growing population of illegal immigrants in suburban Orange County, which is less than a two-hour drive from Mexico.