There are now two Democrats who say they will challenge Jon Corzine in the Democratic gubernatorial primary in June: former Glen Ridge Mayor Carl Bergmanson and Perth Amboy Councilman Ken Balut. So far, neither seems to pose a real threat to the incumbent, who despite struggling approval numbers still has a 66%-24% job approval rating among Democrats. Bergmanson and Balut have not raised money or announced any endorsements.
For Balut, it will be interesting to see if he can secure the backing of his chief political ally, Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz.
Another possible primary rival, Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello, has already said he will not run for Governor. Cresitello won 6% of the vote against Frank Lautenberg in the 2008 Democratic U.S. Senate primary.
Corzine has faced two primaries in his nine-year political career: in 2000, the ex-Goldman Sachs Co-Chair entered the political scene to defeat former Governor Jim Florio for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination by a 58%-42% margin. Five years later when he ran for Governor, he essentially cleared the field when Acting Governor Richard Codey said he would not be a candidate. Instead, Corzine won 88% of the vote against two minor candidates: James Kelly, who lived in a psychiatric group home during the campaign, had 8% and Francis X. Tenaglio, a social studies teacher from Camden County who served one term as a Pennsylvania State Representative in the 1970’s, received 4%.