New Jersey's Democratic Governor Jon Corzine is up for reelection next month and his campaign is in trouble. He currently polls
tied or slightly behind Republican candidate Chris Christie, a former
U.S. attorney who has lost some of his support to third-party candidate
Chris Daggett. President Obama today campaigns with Corzine, following
recent campaign appearances by Vice President Joe Biden and former
President Bill Clinton. Can Obama, who won
the state in 2008 by a 15% margin, push Corzine over the top and keep
the statehouse Democratic, or will he risk tarnishing the Obama
political brand with a failed campaign?
- Test for 'Obama Factor' Tribune political analyst Mark Silva describes
the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races as tests for Obama's
ability to pull in votes. "The Obama factor. That will be one question
on everyone's minds when the votes are
counted Nov. 3 in Virginia and New Jersey, where Democrats are battling
Republicans for governor's offices in the two big off-season test
elections of the year."
Can Obama's 'Grassroots Machine' Deliver? Time's Michael Scherer puts heavy pressure on Obama to deliver a win for Corzine. "The question is whether or not the Obama brand, which has been
tarnished in recent months, is strong enough to brighten the hopes of
the embattled governor," he writes. "New Jersey's outcome may not only be seen nationally as a referendum on
Obama's first 10 months in office, but also as a test of how well the
grassroots machine that Obama built up in 2008 can be mobilized in off
years." Obama isn't alone. "Back in Washington, the Democratic National Committee is also stepping
up its backing of Corzine, with roughly $3 million in aid, along with
frequent e-mails to organize support from those on Obama's presidential
campaign e-mail list."
- Implications Beyond New Jersey NBC News' Domenico Montanaro lays out the stakes. "If Democrats do win in New Jersey, as well as in the
special congressional election in NY-23, there will be two storylines
to consider the day after: 1) third-party candidates -- Daggett in NJ
and Doug Hoffman in NY-23 -- will have helped the Democrats and hurt
the Republicans, and 2) that Republicans once again will have struck
out in the Northeast. If Republicans lose NY-23, they will control just
TWO of the state’s 29 congressional districts. Wow."
The larger impact of all this is hard to determine, which is why
observers of the national political scene — starting with those in the
White House — have taken an avid interest in New Jersey, trying to
figure out exactly what’s going on and what, if anything, it might
portend for the coming midterm Congressional elections, not to mention
the 37 other governors who will face the voters next year. Theories
abound as to which factor is to blame for the tenuousness of Corzine’s
hold on power in a state that has tilted so strongly Democratic in the
last few elections. Some, including Corzine himself, say he is simply a
victim of the legacy of the Bush years: financial collapse and
mismanagement, yawning inequality and unemployment. Others blame
Corzine’s arrogance and his obstinate demeanor, or they point to the
Wall Street credentials that helped Corzine sweep into office four
years ago but that now make him a convenient target of populist revolt.
Republicans hope Corzine’s struggles signify the leading edge of a
reaction against Obama and pro-government liberals, though if Corzine
prevails, Democrats will inevitably portray his victory as a validation
of the president’s continuing popularity. For those whose business is
the forecasting of the next political moment, the operative question
isn’t so much whether Corzine will ultimately win or lose the election,
but what, exactly, his winning or losing might mean.
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