Republicans might be showing up at political events in Hudson County, but the real battleground of the race for Governor is in Bergen. No Republican has ever won a statewide election in New Jersey without carrying Bergen County. In 2005, Jon Corzine beat Douglas Forrester in Bergen by fourteen percentage points and a margin of 34,302 votes.
To win, Christopher Christie has to turn that around. The last GOP statewide candidate to carry Bergen was Robert Franks, who received 3,932 votes more than Corzine in the 2000 U.S. Senate race. Corzine knew that when he picked State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) as his running mate. If Christie carries Bergen by a decent margin, Republicans could oust Democratic Freeholders Julie O’Brien and Vernon Walton with their flotsam and jetsam challengers
This year, Corzine is defending Bergen without the help of Joseph Ferriero, whose fundraising prowess and campaign skills turned the state’s largest county from solid Republican to solid Democratic. Ferriero resigned as County Chairman last year following his indictment on federal corruption charges; his trial begins this fall. For the last seven years, Ferriero has been in the top ten on the PolitickerNJ.com Power List; he was at #7 last year. The new Democratic Chairman, Michael Kasparian, starts out at #94. The problem for Christie is that the relatively new Republican County Chairman, Robert Yudin, isn’t on the list at all. While Kasparian still hasn’t figured out how to be a County Chairman – Corzine’s executive order targeting criminally charged Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez is evidence of that — Yudin hasn’t cast himself in the mold of predecessors like Nelson Gross, Anthony Statile and John Inganamort either.
In 2008, a few months after Yudin ousted Robert Ortiz in a race for County Chairman, the corruption issue failed to help Republicans win their first Freeholder race since 2003. Incumbents Bernadette McPherson and David Ganz ran 14,416 and 8,423 votes, respectively, ahead of the top GOP vote getter. In 2007, Yudin lost a Freeholder bid by 11,179. Yudin feuded with the only Republican to win in Bergen last year, longtime County Clerk Kathleen Donovan.