In a radio interview this morning, New Jersey Governor-Elect Chris Christie said there are no transition funds for his incoming administration.
No money for hiring of new staffers. No money to update signs, publications and stationary. No money to do the things that have to be done when one administration leaves and another enters.
“Interestingly, the state didn’t fund the transition,” Christie said in the interview. “They didn’t put any money in the budget for a transition so we need to talk about making sure that we get that squared away.”
Christie defeated incumbent Jon Corzine 49.1% to 44.6% in the November 3 general election, becoming the first Republican to win a statewide election in New Jersey since 1997. He takes office in mid-January.
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.
As expected, Republican Bob McDonnell has easily been elected Governor of Virginia, defeating Democrat Creigh Deeds. The win, part of a Republican sweep of VA’s three highest offices (Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General), continues Virginia’s trend of voting for a governor from the opposite party of the sitting President that goes back to 1977.
The networks called the race for McDonnell shortly before 8 p.m. ET – an hour after the polls closed.
In my opinion, Deeds ran a lame, horrible campaign that didn’t galvanize the state’s more pro-Democratic areas – namely the Washington DC suburbs in Northern Virginia and the urban areas in the Norfolk area – the way Obama did last year and Jim Webb did against George Allen in the 2006 U.S. Senate race. It wasn’t clear for much of the campaign what Deeds stood for, but he certainly didn’t energize the people who voted for Obama last year. And using McDonnell’s thesis from 20 years ago to scare voters on social issues only goes so far given the struggling economy.
The Newark Star-Ledger, the largest newspaper in New Jersey, has endorsed independent Chris Daggett for governor.
“The newspaper’s decision is less a rejection of Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican Chris Christie than a repudiation of the parties they represent, both of which have forfeited any claim to the trust and confidence of the people of New Jersey,” the editorial says. “They share responsibility for the state’s current plight.
“Only by breaking the hold of the Democratic and Republican mandarins on the governor’s office and putting a rein on their power will the state have any hope for the kind of change needed to halt its downward economic, political and ethical spiral.
New Jersey needs radical change in Trenton. Neither of the major parties is likely to provide it. Daggett’s election would send shock waves through New Jersey’s ossified political system and, we believe, provide a start in a new direction.
It would signal the entrenched leadership of both parties — and the interest groups they regularly represent — that an ill-served and angry electorate demands something better.”
The Star-Ledger editorial board members obviously weren’t the only ones caught up in Daggett’s performance in the first debate. Problem is, despite that performance, Daggett still isn’t even breaking 20% in the polls, let alone getting the 35-40% that he will need at the VERY MINIMUM to win.
As I’ve written here before, candidates not affiliated even indirectly with either the Democratic or Republican parties almost never win state or federal elections anymore, in large part because elections cost too much. And they especially cost too much in New Jersey, where you have to buy advertising in both the New York (largest) and Philadelphia (fifth-largest) media markets.
Most of the people voting for Daggett will likely be those who are disenchanted with Jon Corzine but, for various reasons, aren’t sold on Chris Christie. This increases Corzine’s chances of winning considerably. In fact, you could argue now that the race is less between Corzine and Christie than it is between Christie and Daggett. Christie can’t afford to have Daggett siphon off any more of his votes.
Even though I no longer live in New Jersey, I remain very interested in the state’s gubernatorial race this fall. And after having sizeable leads since the primary, highly unpopular incumbent Jon Corzine has pulled into a statistical tie (or within the margin of error) in most polls and has even taken the lead over Republican Chris Christie in two polls this week.
Independent Chris Daggett has had an impact, siphoning off moderates and independents who dislike Corzine but haven’t been sold on Christie, the former George W. Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney for New Jersey. Plus New Jersey has become a VERY blue state over the last 20 years. No Republican has won a statewide race in New Jersey since 1997, and the one who won that year – then-governor Christine Todd Whitman, was not nearly as conservative as Christie. Throw in Corzine’s plethora of negative attack ads, most famously the one criticizing Christie for opposing health insurance mandates that include covering mammograms, and it’s not surprising at all to see this race become a barn burner.
Daggett is a real wild card here. State and federal candidates not affiliated with either of the two major parties generally have no chance to win because elections are so expensive in this country. This is especially true in NJ, where candidates have to buy advertising in two of the five-largest media markets in the country. But while Daggett likely won’t win, he very likely could take enough votes from Christie to allow Corzine to win with well under 50% of the vote. Daggett could be to this election what Ross Perot was to George H.W. Bush in the 1992 Presidential election.
Me? I liked Daggett in the first debate far better than I like either Corzine or Christie, and it would be nice to see someone independent of either major party get such a powerful governorship. But since he has pretty much zero chance of winning, I would vote for the candidate who is most different from the status quo. For all of Christie’s flaws, he’d be very different from any governor New Jersey has had in the 17 years I’ve lived in this part of the country. Trenton badly needs a shakeup, and Christie would definitely provide that.