With the budget passage, state Supreme Court Justice Barry Albin’s renomination and Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie’s testimony in DC, the last five days were important for the race for governor.
So which candidate won the week?
According to three expert political observers, Gov. Jon Corzine won on points, but not by enough develop a longstanding advantage in the race.
“Maybe Corzine is a little bit ahead, but I don’t think it’s the kind of game that’s going to stick. There are too many things out there, and are people really paying attention to what happened this week?” said Ingrid Reed, Director of the Eagleton Institute’s New Jersey Project.
The governor managed to partially take away one Republican campaign issue by restoring rebates and the property tax deduction for some families, and he was able to get it through the legislature with minimal Democratic dissent. But it remains to be seen if the implementation of some of the budget’s more draconian cuts will find their way into the campaign, and whether its $1.2 billion in tax hikes – even if much of it is on the backs of wealthy residents — will be a potent issue for Republicans.
Christie, for his part, did not have a bad week either.
“Corzine got some property tax relief, but he’s also been saddled with not having it for everybody and $1 billion property tax increases. Christie had to go down in an uncomfortable situation, answer questions that he wishes were not in the news, and handled himself well enough that he didn’t give the Democrats any more than he already had,” said Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray.
Not to mention that, if non-political insiders were paying attention to the gubernatorial race at all, their attention was likely diverted y the death of Michael Jackson the same afternoon that Christie testified.
“It was probably a good week for the governor. I don’t know if he’s a bad week for Christie,” said Joseph Marbach, a political science professor at Seton Hall University. “The reports are that he requited himself pretty well down in Washington. But it was presented in a negative context, kind of a congressional investigation.”