Gov. Jon Corzine has a potential problem in South Jersey, where a new Quinnipiac University poll shows him trailing former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie by five points, 42%-37%. The poll defines the South Jersey region as Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties. In 2005, Corzine beat Republican Douglas Forrester in this part of the state by 49,825 votes, a 56%-44% margin, and lost only in Cape May County.
In South Jersey, Corzine has a favorable/unfavorable rating of 43%-43%, and an upside-down approval rating of 42%-44%. Nearly half the voters (47%) say he does not deserve to be re-elected, and 70% say they are dissatisfied with the direction New Jersey is headed.
Against conservative Steven Lonegan, the former Mayor of Bogota, Corzine is ahead by nine points, 42%-33%, among South Jersey voters – not a great showing against a Republican whose name is not recognized by 88% of the region’s voters.
Some Democrats suggest that Corzine could boost his chances in the region by picking a South Jerseyan for Lieutenant Governor. And some Republicans think Christie could enhance his lead by doing the same thing.
Possible Corzine running mates include: U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts, State Sens. Jefferson Van Drew and James Whelan, Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, and former Cherry Hill Mayor/Community Affairs Commissioner Susan Bass Levin, who is now the Deputy Executive Director of the Porth Authority of New York and New Jersey. State Sen. Dana Redd is likely to be off Lt. Governor short lists now that she’s running for Mayor of Camden.
Sweeney, who received more votes in 2007 than any other Democratic State Senate candidate, could emerge as a potentially strong choice for the number two slot on the ticket. In addition to South Jersey, pundits say that the working class Irish Catholic ironworker and father of a special needs daughter could help the Governor shore up votes that Christie or Lonegan would clearly target.
If South Jersey turns out to be a general election battleground, look for Christie to give careful consideration to State Sen. Diane Allen, a former network television anchorwoman who has proven herself as a strong vote-getter in the suburban Philadelphia region. But Allen, who is feuding with Burlington GOP leaders, could also cost the former U.S. Attorney votes among conservatives.