Will Corzine pull a Gray Davis and help Lonegan beat Christie?

The tightening of the Republican gubernatorial primary has some pundits wondering whether Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine will spend some money in May beating up on Republican Christopher Christie, with the hope that he can boost Steve Lonegan's chances to win the GOP nomination. A Quinnipiac University poll released today shows Corzine trailing Christie by seven points, but in a dead heat with Lonegan.

Seven years ago in California, Gov. Gray Davis was struggling to win the approval of voters as he sought re-election to a second term. The candidate he most feared, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, had a 30-point lead in the race for the Republican nomination over conservative (and native New Jerseyan) Bill Simon. Davis, facing minor candidates in the Democratic primary, spent $10 million on ads attacking Riordan. That helped Simon win a 49%-31% victory over Riordan in the GOP primary. Davis beat Simon in the general election, 47%-42%.

The conventional wisdom is that Corzine would rather face Lonegan than Christie, the former U.S. Attorney, in the general election. The question is will he invest a couple of million dollars now that might potentially save him money in the fall? Will Corzine pull a Gray Davis and help Lonegan beat Christie?