Casting himself as a man of the people with the leadership skills to achieve progress, Rrepresentative Rush Holt (D-12) launches his bid to become New Jersey's next United States Senator.

Holt is vying with fellow Congressman Frank Pallone, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver for the right to be the the Democratic candidate in the October special election.

The constitutionality of the election called by Governor Christie is at the heart of legal action brought by members of Holt's own party to stop the proceedings and move the vote three weeks later, in November's general election.

"I understand the politics of the primary," said Holt in a teleconference today. "I'm a seasoned campaigner who's been in tough campaigns where conventional wisdom said the other guy would win. I've been in campaigns where the party organization has looked the other way. And I've won, and I've won, and I've won."

Holt characterizes himself as the "person of substance" in the campaign and the one best suited to carry on the progressive agenda of the late Senator Frank Lautenberg.

"I'm a teacher and a scientist...and more than anyone else in the race, I'm a proudly committed progressive," he declared.

"In my 14 years in Congress, I've built a record of accomplishment for New Jersey," Holt said. "The League of Conservation Voters says I have the best lifetime record of anyone on Congress on environmental votes. On labor, on human rights, civil rights and a long list I've got great votes."

Even more important than votes, says Holt, are his actions to find remedies for New Jersey's ailments. "Whether it's veteran suicides or trying to stop the destabilizing of our national missile defense."

"I secured, with President Obama, $22,000,000,000 in new money for research and development in the Recovery Act," he continued. "There's a record that I'm proud to point to, that goes beyond rhetoric."

With a tongue-in-cheek reference to his intellect - the video on his campaign website features his vanquishing of Watson the Supercomputer on "Jeopardy!" - Holt acknowledges the usefulness of having a Senator who comprehends science as a component of 21st-century life.

Holt believes that grassroots support will give him the edge. "And not just a thin, broad support, and not just celebrities," he said. "I have deep, committed support. One example - small dollar donors. I've received four times as much as any other New Jersey Democrat in the House. And by the way, with regard to fundraising, I've outraised every member of New Jersey's Democratic Congressional delegation in the House."

His platform, ideology, policies and his battle with Watson are all viewable at

Within hours of Holt's campaign rollout, Pallone announced the endorsements of 21 elected Middlesex County officials on the state, county and local levels.