By Michael M. Shapiro
With approval ratings hovering in the 30s, Jon Corzine is preparing to seek a second term as Governor of New Jersey. The lopsided defeat of Rob Andrews might give the Chief of State supreme confidence that a primary challenge will not materialize or will fail miserably. Should a challenge not materialize, Mr. Corzine may feel secure knowing that New Jersey is a blue state that is getting more blue by the day. However, he might possibly be misreading the tea leaves.
Gov. Corzine should take little solace from this month’s primary results. Congressman Andrews ran a 10-week campaign against a long-time and popular incumbent. Should a Democrat decide to run against Corzine, it will be a significantly longer campaign against a one-term governor with high unfavorables and many new found political enemies.
In addition, as long as a congressman does not run against Corzine, the congressional delegation will not feel that their political aspirations are being usurped, resulting in a less unified block in favor of the governor than the tight coalition of congressmen that backed Sen. Lautenberg. The governor of New Jersey is one of the most powerful chief executives in the country. Most politicians in this state with higher ambitions would like to call Drumthwacket their home. There are plenty of pols itching for a run should the right conditions present themselves.
It would not be a surprise to find that Corzine faces a primary challenger with the support of some of the same cast of characters that backed Congressman Andrews, but also with the support of a number of faces that backed Frank Lautenberg’s campaign. Should such a challenge come to pass, the governor will obviously have a tough contest to win.
If he is fortunate enough to avoid a primary challenge, he will likely face a Republican in the fall who is far more of a threat than former Congressman Zimmer. Republicans smell blood in the water and with Corzine’s low approval ratings and with general discontent among many voters with Trenton and politics as usual, the Republicans have a shot in 2009. Pharmaceutical executive John Crowley or United States Attorney Chris Christie would both be forces to be reckoned with. Despite New Jersey’s Democratic domination on a statewide level, Gov. Corzine could become the underdog in a race against either of these two possible contenders.
Of course, if no Democrat faces Corzine in the primary and the Republicans put up a less-than-stellar nominee, Corzine will win a second term. However, given the stakes at play, the patronage that the office of the governor can bestow, and the power of the chief executive of New Jersey, either a Democrat or the Republicans or both will give the governor a serious run for his money.
Michael M. Shapiro, founder of ShapTalk.com, is an attorney who resides in New Providence. He currently serves as the editor of The Alternative Press, www.thealternativepress.com Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org
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