The Race for Governor: Likely Democratic

Democrat Jon Corzine remains the strong favorite to become Governor of New Jersey. Corzine has enjoyed a comfortable lead over Republican Douglas Forrester throughout the campaign and there has yet to be an independent poll that shows Forrester ahead. Statements made last week by Corzine’s former wife may affect the margin of the race, but probably not the outcome. Similarly, Corzine’s gaffe over the legal drinking age in Saturday’s debate appears to have occurred too late to hurt him. Some Republicans say Forrester, who wresteld with the decision to use Joanne Corzine’s quote in a television ad, failed to hit Corzine hard enough to take the lead. All eighty State Assembly seats are up tomorrow and Democrats are a lock to maintain control of the lower house — the only question remaining is whether they can improve on their current 47-33 majority. Democrats are certain to pick up the 36th district seat held since 1992 by Republican Paul DiGaetano, a former Assembly Majority Leader who ran unsuccessfully for Governor in the June primary. The best chance for a Democratic pickup may be in the 2nd district, where former Atlantic City Mayor James Whelan has run a strong campaign against GOP incumbent Kirk Conover. Both parties say this race is up in the air, and both sides say Conover’s running mate, incumbent Frank Blee, looks to be in stronger shape. The GOP is eying possible pickups in the traditionally Republican 12th district, where Democrats Michael Panter and Robert Morgan won two years ago after the race became a referendum on the ethics of John Bennett, then the Co-Senate President. Both sides say Panter and Morgan are in a toss-up with Republicans Jennifer Beck, a Red Bank Councilwoman, and Declan O’Scanlon, a Councilman from Little Silver. Democrats put some last minute cash into the 1st district, where Republican Assemblyman Jack Gibson faces Nelson Albano, an advocate for tougher drunk driving laws. The Democratic incumbent, Jefferson Van Drew, is a shoo-in for re-election to a third term. One of the most hotly contested races has been in the 11th district, where Democrats have mounted a strong campaign against GOP incumbents Steve Corodemus and Sean Kean. The Democratic challengers, Matt Doherty and Jim Reilly, may have run one of the strongest campaigns in the state, but Corodemus and Kean have fought back in this Republican-leaning district. The campaign to oust freshman Republican Bill Baroni in the 14th district never really materialized. Baroni, the only Republican to unseat an incumbent two years ago, has secured key labor endorsements in his campaign against Dan Benson, a Hamilton Councilman. Three-term Democrat Linda Greenstein continues to be the favorite in her campaign against former South Brunswick Police Chief Michael Paquette. Republicans are likely to hold their two seats in the 13th district, where incumbent Samuel Thompson and Monmouth County Freeholder Amy Handlin face Democrats Bill Flynn, who served in the Assembly from 1974 to 1986, and newcomer Michael Dasaro. Handlin defeated longtime Assemblyman Joe Azzolina in the GOP primary. Democrats are expected to hold their two seats in the 3rd district, where incumbents John Burzichelli and Doug Fisher face GOP challengers Phil Rhudy, the Mayor of Harrison, and James Zee.

The Race for Governor: Likely Democratic