GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. – Many New Jersey voters trying to sort out their feelings about Sen. Robert Torricelli's withdrawal from the November election say if he was going to quit, he should have done it sooner.
"It's a little late, that's all,'' said Larry Young, 78, of Hillsboro during a break at the Garden State Parkway rest stop in Galloway. "He ought to have done it a little earlier, but he just kept hanging on.''
Torricelli, 51, quit Monday amid questions about his ethics and concerns that he was far behind Republican nominee Douglas Forrester.
The state Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to let Democrats take Torricelli off the November ballot and replace him with former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the party's preferred replacement.
"The Democratic Committee should have kicked him out, and so should have the Senate,'' said Annette Kaplan of Mountainside. "And I'm a Democrat!''
Tom Smith, 47, of South Plainfield said he was glad Torricelli bowed out. "Too many problems,'' Smith said. "He should have resigned because of all the controversy.''
Smith, a registered Independent, said Democrats should not be allowed to substitute a candidate on the November ballot.
"They knew all this before they put him up for re-election,'' he said.
Absecon resident Louis Reynolds, 75, also was happy Torricelli was bowing out.
"Every day, it seems like something else is coming out about him,'' he said. "And I don't agree with them trying to put someone else on the ballot instead.''
In Newark, Seton Hall law student Kevin Asadi said he would not have voted for Torricelli if he had stayed in the race because it appeared the senator abused his power.
"It's a big mess,'' said Asadi, 23, of Monroe Township in Middlesex County. "Dropping out of the race may have been good for his career, but it's not good for the Democrats.''
Larry Johnson, a 38-year-old Democrat from Trenton, paused when asked if he would have voted for Torricelli.
"That's a hard one,'' he said. "When it really comes down to it — probably. I really don't know about the other guy.''
Lawrence Robinson, of Allentown, said Democrats should be allowed to put Lautenberg's name on the ballot. But he said Democrats made a mistake by running Torricelli originally.
"The Democrats were playing a fool's game knowing Torricelli had this in his background,'' he said. "They played a very heedless game and the Republicans will take the Senate. No matter who they put up, that person couldn't win.''
Rob Bell of Browns Mills said he opposes any ballot change at this point. He said the other option under consideration — having Torricelli resign his Senate seat so Gov. James E. McGreevey can name a replacement and delay the election — is a "crooked way to get a candidate on the ballot.''
Richard Walter of Allentown said New Jersey law should keep any Democrat from replacing Torricelli on the ballot.
"In the real world there are laws, and the laws say you can't do that,'' he said.