With more than half of New Jersey voters disapproving of the job performance of Governor Jim Corzine, three-quarters of his fellow Garden State Democrats voted to give renew his lease on Drunthwacket, making the spendthrift former U.S. Senator their party’s nominee for this fall’s gubernatorial election.
While Democrats voted overwhelmingly for Corzine in their party’s primary yesterday, Republicans picked Chris Christie, a “former prosecutor who sent a parade of corrupt New Jersey politicians to prison” as their nominee. Most pundits thought Christie had a better chance of ousting the unpopular Democrat (with approval ratings below those of George W. Bush) than did the man he defeated yesterday, former Bogota (New Jersey, not Colombia) Mayor Steve Lonegan. Christie got more votes than Corzine and his two closest competitors for the Democratic nomination combined in a state where Barack Obama beat John McCain by over 15 points.
While it looks like Corzine is set to campaign against George W. Bush, given the mess he’s made of the Garden State, Christie will focus on making the state’s government smaller and returning tax money to citizens. Should he campaign on thosse themes (which he addressed last night in his victory speech), the New Jersey Republican could show that our party’s core principles resonate with voters even in “blue” states like New Jersey.
His success could encourage other Republicans in the Northeast to run for office, helping bring the party back to life in a region where it once dominated, but has note done so well in recent years.
To be sure, Christie faces an unpopular incumbent, but that incumbent is unpopular for a reason, his policies. And his high-spending policies haven’t been much different than another incumbent Democratic executive, the President of the United States.