Monday, October 12, 2009

STAR-LEDGER Endorses Daggett- The Implications Are Huge

Forget for a few minutes that nationally and locally newspapers are on the ropes. Readership is down, advertising revenues are shrinking, and nobody has yet found a way to utilize the internet to the full advantage in making a buck or two for hurting American print media establishment.

Newspaper endorsements still carry weight, just not as much as in years past. When the largest newspaper in a given area gives its endorsement to a political candidate, it still has meaning. When the Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ) gave its endorsement to independent candidate Chris Daggett for New Jersey governor over major party candidates Republican Chris Christie and incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine the Daggett campaign received a huge boost, not just in the Garden State but on a national stage as well. The candidacy of Mr. Daggett has gained legitimacy- you can argue that he already had credibility after his showing in the recent debate between the three candidates in which the consensus was that Daggett won( full disclosure- in my opinion piece I said Daggett had won).

Below, an excerpt from the paper's endorsement.

Only by breaking the hold of the Democratic and Republican mandarins on the governor’s office and putting a rein on their power will the state have any hope for the kind of change needed to halt its downward economic, political and ethical spiral.

New Jersey needs radical change in Trenton. Neither of the major parties is likely to provide it. Daggett’s election would send shock waves through New Jersey’s ossified political system and, we believe, provide a start in a new direction.

It would signal the entrenched leadership of both parties — and the interest groups they regularly represent — that an ill-served and angry electorate demands something better.

The lamentable fact is that the two parties are, themselves, little more than narrow special interests. Their competition for short-term political and/or monetary gain has jeopardized the state’s long-term economic health and left it with a tarnished national reputation.

Where the major parties have differed, their differences have been inconsequential. Where they’ve been the same, their similarities have been destructive.

Many pundits on the national stage have said that next month's elections for the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia are a referendum on the 10 month old Obama administration. I'm not so sure. In Virginia it appears Bob McDonnell, a conservative Republican, will more than likely win over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds. But all that means is the old news of the South remaining the power base of the GOP, nothing more, nothing less. Obama took Virginia and North Carolina because of the feeling that Obama was a populist rather than a more mainstream Democrat, which contrary to wingnut rantings about socialism, the President is. He's a centrist is foreign policy, and left of center in social policy.

In New Jersey, its different scenario. Jersey people are traditionally blue collar Democrats, going back to the FDR administration. Some recent polls have given Daggett 12% of the vote, while Christie and Corzine are in a statistical dead heat of about 40% each. The New Jersey's economic woes had their origins from way back, in the early 1990's when Jim Florio was governor. In order to raise revenue to close a budget gap- which he was bound to do by the state constitution- he raised taxes. The gap was closed, but so was his governorship; the tax revolt that followed chased him from office. His successor, Christie Whitman, cut the state income tax in three successive years, tried to privatize such things as the motor vehicle inspections (which failed), and borrowed to offset any gaps in the budget. She began the era of the quick fix. And her successors in Trenton, Democrat and Republican, all played the same game with smoke and mirrors. And when the day came to pay up on the credit card, Jon Corzine was left holding the bag.

The economic downturn nationally only made New Jersey's situation worse. But the question remains for New Jersey's voters- can Corzine or Christie fix New Jersey? The Star-Ledger's editorial board doesn't think so.

What Daggett does offer is a plan to get New Jersey on its feet again, but it will require sacrifice on the part of the voters and the taxpayers, and by elected officials who have special interests in their corner, both Democrat and GOP. Much of New Jersey's problems stem from too much local independence, too much home rule. Smaller towns with independent school districts and police forces that drain the taxpayer and should be merged with other local districts to ease property taxes. Most people won't want to do this- they like having local control over schools, police, and fire departments. But the reality is those services have become a disproportionate part of the tax equation. Big government is argued against by conservative voices, but too many small governments can be even worse.

Smart efficient government is what is called for. And that's what Daggett's supporters see in his candidacy. A populist who may truly bring "change they can believe in".

Where have they heard that before?

Daggett can be a force to be reckoned with. He will likely not win the governorship, but he has become the worst nightmare of both Christie and Corzine. Whoever wins this will not have an mandate as far as popular vote. And if Daggett can somehow surge to the 30% range or better things will get very interesting (and tense) on the first Tuesday of November.

For more news and opinion on the governor's races in New Jersey and Virginia check


Alexander Higgins said...

The star ledger's endorsement of Chris Daggett is great news. I wish the republicans would stop the Bush/Rove Fear mongering. There is obviously a consensus that a vote for Daggett is not a vote for Corzine.

Daggett is a viable candidate and there are many of this who are voting for him because we know he can win and is the only candidate who can change this state. The Star Ledger's endorsement echoes and re-affirms that opinion.

We need people to get involved and spread the word about Chris Daggett.

Learn 15 ways to help and get started now. Even if your not from NJ you can still cyber volunteer.

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

Alexander-your comment had an interesting advertisement under it from the wonderful people who are in the tank for Michele Bachman, the right wing looney who gives other right wing loonies a bad name.

I don't know if I'll swing my support to Daggett, but I do know this- your remark about Bush/Rove fear mongering is right on, and finds itself creeping into center/left of center blogs like this one everyday.

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