Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Its Corzine vs Christie In NJ


Yesterday it became official; in November New Jersey's incumbent Democratic Governor Jon Corzine will be facing Republican Chris Christie, a former corruption busting US attorney. Corzine faced token opposition in his primary, while Christie defeated the very conservative Steve Lonegan 55 to 42%.

There's discontent in New Jersey regarding Jon Corzine, much of it regarding taxes and the economy. The Governor is a man who made a fortune on Wall Street, and took office in 2006 with a mandate to reduce property taxes and shrink government. There were rough spots in his attempt to do so, and when the recession began in late 2007 the situation plummeted . Much of the economic straights New Jersey finds itself in are not Corzine's doing. The system of local government in effect in New Jersey started in the colonial days, with even the tiniest municipalities having home rule, and thus a heavy property tax to pay for basic services, like police and schools. Its a system in need of overhaul and consolidation- but it hasn't happened. Taxes remain high, unemployment is on the rise, though Corzine has taken steps to reduce the size of government. Because less money is being taken in at the state level due to the economic crisis there is a budget gap in Trenton that has yet to be adequately addressed.

Chris Christie's answer to get New Jersey back on its feet is to shrink government and cut taxes. When pressed where the cuts should come from, Christie is never specific. And to win the GOP primary Christie had to move far to the right to appease the Republican hardcore. His problem is, he probably moved too far to the right, and words he spoke during the primary season will probably come back to haunt him.

New Jersey has 1.8 million registered Democrats, and about 1 million Republicans. Its almost as dark blue as a New York Yankee baseball cap. And Democratic President Obama is enormously popular in New Jersey, even among the independents. Mr. Obama, wife Michelle, and VP Joe Biden will be spending alot of time in the Garden State this summer and fall.

How will the GOP counter that? With Rudy Guliani...or John McCain. After all, who else do they have? Bush and Cheney are pariahs in New Jersey. Chris Christie would be better off wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey in Giants Stadium on gameday than campaign with either the unpopular former president or former VP.

The bottom line...I think Christie has a shot, and in most polls he does have a lead at this point. But I think the popularity and magnetism of Barack Obama will turn the tide in November for Jon Corzine.

Its nice to have friends in high places.

More from columnist Steve Adubato.

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