The State Houses – What’s At Stake in 2010

Thirty-nine states will be electing a governor during the 2009-2010 election cycle. Of these, eighteen races will not include an incumbent and four incumbents who will be running were not elected to their current position. The recession and huge budget deficits threaten to undercut the power of incumbency for governors running for reelection.

The Current Line-Up

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Archive for New Jersey

Aug
31

Corzine Pounces

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Jon Corzine’s campaign seems to smell blood in the water over his Republican challenger Chris Christie’s failure to disclose a $46,000 loan to Michelle Brown, a former subordinate in the US Attorney’s office.

The Democrat is on the air with a television ad calling out Christie for what they see as a clear double standard. They’re going for the soft center of Christie’s entire candidacy – his image as a clean government reformer.

Somehow, the Corzine campaign seems to have successfully turned the conversation in this race into one about Chris Christie’s image rather than a referendum on Corzine’s performance.

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Rick Shaftan, a pollster for defeated conservative gubernatorial candidate Steve Lonegan, has released the first poll indicating two weeks of negative headlines has severely damaged GOP nominee Chris Christie. Not sure ho credible this polling outfit (Neighborhood Research), is but it will be interesting to see if other pollsters validate Shaftan’s findings. 

Both candidate’s favorability ratings are in the tank, as the campaign has sunk into a mudslinging free-for-all. Talking Points Memo reports the strategist’s analysis:

“Yeah, I was really surprised at it myself,” Shaftan, who most recently worked for Christie’s primary opponent, told TPM. “The Corzine people have managed to convince people that Christie is dirty.”

Shaftan expects that liberal voters, who currently have fairly high negative views of Corzine, will come home to him in the end. Corzine is himself a big liberal, after all. In addition, Christie’s recent troubles — involving newly-revealed conversations with Karl Roves (sic) which have tied him to the 2007 US Attorney firing scandal and separately about an undisclosed loan he made to Michele Brown, a subordinate in the U.S. Attorney’s office — appear to be taking a toll.

I’m curious whether or not these negative numbers for both Christie and Corzine increases the odds for independent (and Sierra Club-endorsed) candidate Chris Daggett.

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To watch NJ GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie brag about how “his team” of lawyers in the (supposedly apolitical) US Attorneys office is ready to move with him to Trenton and looking forward to not having “to worry about  beyond a reasonable doubt anymore” should remind New Jersey voters about the worst excesses of the Bush Department of Justice.

 

You know, we’re going to ferret out waste and fraud and abuse in the government. I think you know I’ll do that better than anybody. I’ve got a group of assistant U.S. attorneys sitting down in Newark still doing their job. But let me tell you, they are watching the newspapers. And after we win this election, I’m going to take a whole group of them to Trenton with me and put them in every one of the departments because they saw a lot of waste and abuse being investigated while we were in the U.S. Attorney’s office that didn’t rise to the level of a crime. So I told them, the good news is, when we get to Trenton we don’t have to worry about beyond a reasonable doubt anymore. (h/t – emptywheel)

Our constitutional rights have been eroded as the nation’s partisan divide widened over the past decade. In the post 9/11 era, it’s relatively easy to conceive a campaign when a political candidate utters the words, “presumption of innocence is a threat to the American way of life.”

It might be an interesting question to ask Mr. Christie.

Categories : New Jersey
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Aug
20

Christie’s Glass House Shatters

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Chris Christie has built his gubernatorial campaign on cleaning up the widespread corruption that pervades New Jersey politics. As the former US Attorney has learned over the past week, the problem with running on a squeaky clean image is that you (and all of your associates) need to make sure no one sees any smudges on the windows, or cracks in the doorways of your Glass House. This week, the candidate’s reformer bona fides were put under the media’s microscope.  Upon closer examination, the smudges became smears and the cracks began to shatter.

Just when prognosticators were beginning to write Jon Corzine’s political obituary, the former US Attorney’s missteps have breathed new energy into the Garden State gubernatorial contest. Even what might have been good news (the Sierra Club endorsing independent Chris Daggett), may wind up enhancing the incumbent’s victory chances.

A few notes about living in glass houses for Mr. Christie:

1)  Don’t grant questionable no-bid contracts to your former boss. It raises questions about your integrity and motives.

2) Don’t disburse secret loans to people on your payroll. It makes it look like you’ve got things to hide.

3) Don’t brag about how you plan to move your political machine in the US Attorney’s office down to Trenton and do away with that pesky concept of “reasonable doubt.” Fighting corruption doesn’t require tearing up the Bill of Rights. Even in New Jersey.

4) Don’t ever invite Karl Rove over as a houseguest or dinner guest. Certainly don’t take his calls.  As Scooter Libby might remind you, there is no such thing as honor among thieves.

Chris Christie’s campaign still has plenty of time to repair the damage and maintain it’s lead, but the “clean government” luster is gone. In a blue state like New Jersey, that was his best hope of winning over independents and Democrats. With a viable third party candidate in the race, these disaffected voters might opt to go with the “green guy.”

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Aug
06

NJ Lt. Govs: Not Very Memorable

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Despite the historic nature (New Jersey has never had a Lt. Governor before), the gubernatorial nominees’ choice of running mates has caused few New Jerseyans to take note. A  Monmouth University poll (pdf) reveals that while two-thirds of voters believe creating the Lt. Governor position is a necessary change, few know who might become the Garden State’s first second in command:

Fewer than one in five voters could name the running mates of Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine, GOP challenger Christopher J. Christie or Independent candidate Chris Daggett, according to a Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll.

Moreover, eight of 10 voters surveyed said the candidates for lieutenant governor will have no bearing on their choice for governor.

Maybe Corzine should’ve picked the Apprentice guy after all? He would have at least caused a media stir that might’ve been noticed down on the shore.

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Jul
31

It Was Only a Matter of Time

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Before the political cognoscenti finally realized how much trouble Jon Corzine’s reelection chances were in. CQ Politics has changed it’s rating on the race from “Toss-Up” to Leans Republican. Was it the endless stream of polls showing deep dissatisfaction with Corzine in the Garden State or was it the unprecedented corruption arrests that finally tipped the scales? With rumors swirling about NJ Democratic insiders lobbying for a last-minute replacement in the race (it’s been done in NJ before!), I wonder if the voters in Blue Jersey have gotten comfortable enough with the idea of voting for Chris Christie that ditching the unpopular governor might be a wasted effort.

As to whether this is a harbinger of things to come for other governors in 2010, I’ve long asserted Corzine is the canary in the coal mine. If the economy doesn’t appreciaby improve in the next four to six months, practically every incumbent governor will have a serious reelection challenge next November.

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Talk about rapid response.

Even before Loretta Weinberg (the self-described “feisty, Jewish grandmother from Bergen County”) got to the podium after Jon Corzine’s long-winded introduction, the Christie campaign had tweeted about a video posted on YouTube titled, “You Can’t Change Trenton From the Inside”

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Jul
23

Feds Arrest Jersey Politicians

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First thoughts on the news that among the dozens arrested by the FBI this morning in New Jersey and New York as part of an international money laundering and political corruption probe are at least three New Jersey politicians. It plays right into the “clean government” foundation GOP gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie has built his campaign upon. Could it “seal the deal” for the former US Attorney who built his reputation on prosecuting political corruption cases?

Despite the fact the arrested politicos hail from both parties, the scandal could further undermine Governor Jon Corzine’s already endangered reelection chances. Voter disgust over more political corruption in a state with a storied tradition of crooked officials may prove too much for the embattled incumbent to overcome.

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Jul
20

Christie Picks His Number Two

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NJ GOP nominee Chris Christie picks his Lt. Governor running mate, Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno.  Here is the announcement video in which she declares,

“I’m proud to be part of the team. Almost twenty years ago I chose to move to New Jersey with my husband Mike. He was born and raised here. And now we have a family here. My three boys live in New Jersey. And, unfortunately because of the economy today they’re not going to be able to stay. They’re going to have to go and find opportunities elsewhere because this state is broken.

As a federal prosecutor and later as the Monmouth County Sheriff, I had to make tough decisions. And this is the time in New Jersey’s history when we have to make tough decisions, Chris. And I am proud to be part of your team because I know you will face those challenges head on.”

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Jul
18

You Know Times are Tough When…

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Jon Corzine, probably the most famous self-funder in modern American politics, is making the rounds asking for money.

A decade ago, he came out of nowhere (well, the executive suites at Goldman Sachs can’t really be called nowhere, can it?) to buy himself a New Jersey Senate seat.  The cost? A mere $62 million out of his own pocket. He later turned his attention to Trenton, winning the 2005 gubernatorial contest investing tens of millions more from his personal fortune. Over the course of two elections, Jon Corzine has spent over $100 million.

The reality of the 2009 reelection effort is far different.   Read More→