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I thought it would be much closer than this. And the polling over the last few months suggested it would be. But barely 2 hours after the polls closed, Republican Chris Christie has been projected to become the next Governor of New Jersey, defeating incumbent Jon Corzine.

With 74% of the precincts reporting as of 10:20 p.m. ET, Christie leads 50% to 44%, with independent Chris Daggett getting only 6% after polling in double-digits for months. Christie is the first Republican to win a statewide election in New Jersey since Christine Todd Whitman won her second term as governor in 1997.

Corzine used his Goldman Sachs millions to run negative ads and attack Christie’s character and political positions (which admittedly are quite conservative for NJ). But Christie stayed on his message of attacking the high unemployment and taxes in the state and promoting his record as a corruption-fighting U.S. Attorney who will clean up the mess in Trenton. I hope he does just that, because heaven knows Trenton needs cleaning.

“The people of New Jersey said, ‘No more negative personal campaigns,'” Christie said in his victory speech. “In the face of a $30 million onslaught that consisted almost exclusively of negative personal campaigns against me, my family and my friends, the people of New Jersey decided enough is enough.

“Tomorrow we’re gonna take back New Jersey for our families. Tomorrow we’re gonna take back New Jersey for our neighbors. Tomorrow we’re gonna take back New Jersey for the least fortunate among us who do not want the government to fix every problem.”

This one is far worse for the Democrats than Virginia. Obama made several trips to campaign for Corzine, and New Jersey is a very blue state where Democrats have won statewide elections by sizeable margins for most of the last 20 years.

Good luck to Christie. Between the mess in Trenton and the hostile legislature he is sure to face, he’ll need it.


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