Corzine Struggling Locally

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Gov. Jon Corzine

Gov. Jon Corzine

UNION COUNTY—Although she is facing a challenge from retired chemist Jim Pivnichny, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs did not attend a Plainfield event for Gov. Jon Corzine on Sunday, two days after a slew of Elizabeth Democrats announced their support for Republican Christopher Christie.

About 150 people turned out for each gathering.

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In Elizabeth on Friday, eight Democratic school board members endorsed Christie saying they are frustrated with Corzine’s failures.

“Governor Corzine has failed our kids in the last four years,” said school board President Francisco Gonzalez.

At the Plainfield home of Geraldine Harvey, director of a state-funded non-profit group headquartered in Newark, some attendees appeared to hold Corzine responsible for closing Muhlenberg Hospital.

Nancy Piwowar said health services delivery in Plainfield and the surrounding communities suffered as a result of the hospital closure.

Corzine, who is struggling in his campaign for another term, has advocated closing some hospitals to enable the survivors to garner a larger market share.

The weakness at the top of the Democratic ticket has fueled an aggressive campaign by former Scotch Plains Mayor Martin Marks and businessman Bo Vastine against Assemblyman Jerry Green and Assemblywoman Linda Stender in the 22nd Legislative District, which includes parts of Union, Somerset & Middlesex counties.

Corzine also came under fire for his investment in TPG-Axon Capital Management, a $9.7 billion hedge fund that has significant investments in Chinese companies and shares offices, staff and part of its name with Texas Pacific Group, or TPG, which bought Harrah’s Entertainment — owner of four Atlantic City casinos—in late 2006. State law prohibits public officials from having any financial connection to the casino industry.

Meanwhile Robert Spiegel, executive director of the Edison Wetlands Association, cited a scathing federal report to charge Corzine’s Department of Environmental Protection with leaving the public exposed to 25,000 toxic contaminated sites.

“Voters are starting to tune out Governor Corzine,” said pollster Rick Shaftan, who noted that about half the voters hold an unfavorable opinion of the incumbent while only one in five like him.

There is a large undecided vote in the state’s central region that includes Union, Middlesex and Mercer counties, according to Shaftan, who said Christie held a narrow lead with 34 percent undecided in this typically Democratic area.

A review of media coverage showed that the campaign of independent Christopher Daggett is fading fast, with his name mentioned in fewer than one for every six news reports that named the two party nominees.


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