Most of the attention of picking a Lt. Governor candidate has been on the Democratic incumbent, Jon Corzine. But that doesn't mean Republican Christopher Christie is having an easy time either. As a former U.S. Attorney, Christie was supposed to be the ethics candidate. But a couple of self-inflicted wounds – mega million dollar federal monitor contracts for John Ashcroft, David Kelley and John Inglesino – have put Christie, who sent more than 100 public officials to prison, on the defensive as Corzine and the Democratic Governor's Association have already spent more than $3 million basing Christie on ethics.
Despite the heaving spending attacking him, Christie leads Corzine by twelve points in a Quinnipiac University poll and eight points in a Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll. He is the first Republican to be over 50% in an independent poll in 24 years, and some key Democratic insiders now believe Christie can win. Imagine what the race might look like had Christie hired federal monitors not named Ashcroft and Kelley, and rejected campaign contributions from Inglesino and law partner Herbert Stern?
Christie will have an easier time picking a running mate because he doesn't have influential officeholders from his own party putting extraordinary pressure on him to pick – or not pick – a particular candidate. Christie has had to pay special attention to the vetting process, partly because as a former federal prosecutor the bar is set a little higher for him, and partly because he can't any more self-inflicted wounds. Once Christie loses his lead in arguably the most Democratic state in the nation, it will be nearly impossible to get it back.
Christie may be favoring Kim Guadagno, a former federal prosecutor and state Director of Criminal Justice who has served short stints on the Monmouth Beach governing body and as the Monmouth County Sheriff. Some say Guadagno is in Christie's comfort zone; she comes out of the same prosecutorial establishment world. She also has no legislative voting record to pick apart, and may be relatively low-risk for the GOP candidate. Steve Lonegan, the conservative who challenged Christie is the gubernatorial primary, sort of gave his blessing to Guadagno this week.
If Corzine picks a Reality TV star, Guadagno can make the argument that she is the most experienced LG candidate. If Corzine picks a Democrat with more gravitas, Guadagno could be seen as someone who held local office in a town half the size of Wasilla, and as Sheriff of a county about the size of Alaska.
There is some chatter that State Sen. Diane Allen (R-Edgewater Park) is back in the mix. Some pundits argue that Allen, who has some genuine appeal in South Jersey after fourteen years in the Legislature and a career as a network TV anchorwoman, would help Christie attract Democratic-leaning Independents he needs to defeat Corzine. But Allen comes with some risk: conservatives don't like her, and there is buzz that a video production business she owns have some clients that will at least require some explanation.