Will Gov. Corzine decide not to seek re-election and instead serve in the Obama administration in some capacity? Will Chris Christie decline to seek the governorship or will he lose in a Republican primary? A betting man would say that Corzine and Christie are the most likely candidates to run in the general election for governor of New Jersey a little less than a year from now. Given this hypothetical scenario, one thing is certain: It will be a battle of the titans.
On the side of Gov. Corzine, there is his near-infinite ability to spend his own money to win re-election. He has the Democratic powerbrokers and ground game, including the unions, which have the facility to mobilize massive amounts of voters. He also has the benefits of incumbency, including free publicity for the rest of his term, wherever he travels, whatever he says.
In the other corner is Chris Christie, a former Bush pioneer, who has the capacity to raise significant sums of money. A corruption-busting crusader, Christie has won accolades for his dedication in helping to reduce illegal and unethical political activity in the State of New Jersey. He brings with him, not only an impressive resume, but a gift for public speaking that is sure to come in handy in an election, as well as a significant number of allies who can be harnessed to be his ground game in an election.
Both potential candidates also have significant skeletons in their closet. The governor has union boss Carla Katz and emails between them that have yet to be disclosed to the public but likely will be during the ensuing months. He also has incredibly low approval ratings for a first-term governor and has made many enemies in his short time in that public office.
Meanwhile, Mr. Christie helped engineer a super-sized monitorship for former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and his firm, which has become the subject of Congressional hearings. Mr. Christie also has a relationship with outgoing President George W. Bush, which is unlikely to win him votes in a state where Mr. Bush’s approval ratings hover in the twenties.
The hypothetical matchup of Corzine v. Christie will be a bruiser. Big money and big-time allegations will help fuel an increasingly bitter race. Given the current economic doldrums, which are unlikely to improve over the next year, voters will be angry and looking for a scapegoat. Will they blame Gov. Corzine? The Democratic legislature? The policies of then-former President George W. Bush? The answer will be the key to predicting the winner of next year’s gubernatorial race.
My guess is that it will be an incredibly tight contest but one that Gov. Corzine ekes out, due in large part to his financial advantage. What do you think?
Michael M. Shapiro is an attorney who resides in New Providence. He currently serves as the editor of The Alternative Press, www.TheAlternativePress.com, New Jersey’s first all-online daily newspaper serving Millburn/Short Hills, Summit, New Providence, and Berkeley Heights. Contact Mike at MikeShapiro@TheAlternativePress.com
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