Look for former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie to file papers this month as a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor. The former federal prosecutor is expected to become the establishment GOP candidate in a primary against former Bogota Mayor Steven Lonegan, the leader of the conservative wing of the New Jersey GOP. Two other candidates, Assemblyman Richard Merkt and Franklin Township Mayor Brian D. Levine, are also mulling gubernatorial bids.
Incumbent Jon Corzine is expected to seek a second term as Governor, and is likely to run unopposed in the Democratic primary. Not since Brendan Byrne faced nine rivals, including two Congressmen and a member of his own cabinet, in 1977 has a sitting Governor faced serious opposition for the nomination of his or her own party. Corizne has struggled to win the approval of voters, but he’s a Democrat in a very blue state, and he is expected to spend a huge amount of money to get re-elected. It will be hard for any Republican to beat him.
If budget issues or e-mails make it impossible for Corzine to continue his race, look for a spirited Democratic primary with Senate President (and former Governor) Richard Codey as the front runner.
New Jerseyans will elect a Lieutenant Governor for the first time in 2009. The new state law requires the winners of the major party gubernatorial primaries to pick a running mate, much like vice presidential candidates are designated after a presidential nominee is picked.
At this point, only two State Senate seats will be up for grabs in November: contests for the unexpired terms of John Adler and Leonard Lance, who will both take their seats in Congress tomorrow. Adler’s seat is Safe Democratic, and Republicans have a firm lock on the Lance seat.
All eighty State Assembly seats are up for election in 2009, but only a handful of New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts are politically competitive. Democrats currently enjoy a 48-32 majority, and Republicans would have to pick up nine seats to take control.
The best chance for the Republicans is in Districts 1, where Democrats Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam will seek re-election without the benefit of State Sen. Jefferson Van Drew at the top of their ticket; in District 14, where Democrats Linda Greenstein, a five-term incumbent and Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee, and freshman Wayne DeAngelo are up for re-election; and in District 36, where most of the voters live in Bergen County and the two incumbents, Gary Schaer and Frederick Scalera, come from Passaic and Essex, respectively.
For Democrats, the best chance to pick up seats is in the Atlantic County-based second district, where freshman Republican Assemblymen John Amodeo and Vincent Polistina are seeking re-election. Democrats could also threaten challenges in Districts 8 (Burlington), and Districts 11, 12 and 13 (Monmouth).
A number of cities will elect Mayors in the May 2009 non-partisan municipal elections, including Jersey City, where Jerramiah Healy is expected to seek re-election to a third term. Camden, Passaic, West Windsor, Stafford and Robbinsville will also elect Mayors in May.
Watch for Democratic mayoral primaries this June in Edison, East Orange, Plainfield, Kearny and Englewood.