Morning News Digest: October 19, 2009

The Auditor: Corzine’s charity, Christie’s website, Whitman in Pa.

Over the years, Gov. Jon Corzine has had to contend with bad headlines stemming from his personal wealth — and his charitable donations. That’s because in addition to a wide range of typical charities, Corzine has sent big bucks to community and religious causes connected to those who can help his political aspirations, like the North Ward Center, run by Newark political boss Steve Adubato, and the churches of prominent black ministers. Corzine’s charitable giving is detailed each year in tax returns filed by his foundation. They are a matter of public record.

Corzine aims for double-digit finish in Willingboro

Introduced here as the "man who discovered Barack Obama," Gov. Jon Corzine sprinted through a pompom crosscut to the strains of a local rendition of Tina Turner's "Simply the Best" and bounded onto the recreation center stage. "We've got to say 'no' everytime someone says he didn't deserve the Nobel Prize," Corzine said of the president, who is scheduled to stump for the governor in Hackensack on Wednesday with just over two weeks remaining in the gubernatorial contest. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Lesniak and Cryan pummel Milgram over Holley case

Union County party allies of Gov. Jon Corzine are leveling hard charges at someone who's used to doing the charging herself: Attorney General Anne Milgram, whose pursuit of a voter fraud case against Roselle Council President Jamel Holley this month resulted in a virtual dead end. "Disappointment is an understatement," state Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth) said of Milgram, the Corzine administration's attorney general, for bringing charges against Holley in the first place. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

McCarthy: Republican freeholder candidate Del Borrello kickin’ it old-school with campaign

There’s something to be said about a candidate going back to basics when it comes to campaigning. Knowing he is going to be outspent by an exorbitant amount, Gloucester County Republican freeholder candidate Chris Del Borrello has looked at campaigns from 50 years ago to get some ideas. Remember when old-time candidates would drive up and down neighborhood streets with a loud-speaker attached to the back of a truck? Well, that’s exactly what Del Borrello is doing.At the young age of 25, chances are Del Borrello only knows about these campaign tactics from old movies and history lessons. (McCarthy, Newhouse)

NJ’s stimulus programs have mixed results

One year ago, in a dramatic speech, Gov. Jon Corzine urged the Legislature to quickly put programs in place that would blunt the state's deepening recession. "Our state and nation is in the grip of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," he said. "The public is shaken by chaos and uncertainty. They've lost confidence. People are looking for guidance; they need meaningful assistance and they want leadership." New Jerseyans, he said, were looking to Trenton to stop job losses, drops in casino revenue and auto and retail sales. (Fleisher, Star Ledger)

Independent candidate has Christie fighting hard

When he had one opponent, Chris Christie was cruising Ð up by double digits in polls that showed New Jersey voters couldn't wait to dump Gov. Jon Corzine. Christie has two rivals now, thanks to the rise of independent Chris Daggett. And with 16 days left until the election, the Republican's path to victory is anything but assured. (Heininger, Star Ledger)

Four newspapers make endorsements

Four more New Jersey newspapers have made their endorsements in the state's gubernatorial race. In editorials published Sunday, Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine won the backing of The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer while Republican challenger Chris Christie earned the support of the Home News Tribune of East Brunswick and the Courier News of Bridgewater. That came one week after The Star-Ledger of Newark, the state's largest newspaper, gave its endorsement to Independent Chris Daggett.(AP)

The New York Times: For Governor of New Jersey

Like almost every other state in the union, New Jersey is in bad shape. Revenues are down. Unemployment is up. A state deficit is looming. Taxes are high, and more borrowing is taboo. Unfortunately for Gov. Jon Corzine, it is also election time. Mr. Corzine, a Democrat, has struggled through his first term, partly because of a legislature that will not make the tough decisions. He still has lessons to learn about communication and leadership, but he is a better choice for New Jersey voters than either of his challengers. He has earned another four years to deal with the state’s budget problems and culture of corruption. (Editor, The New York Times)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Corzine is best

As Gov. Corzine nears the end of four tumultuous years in office, polls suggest a majority of New Jersey's electorate will vote against him on Nov. 3. Such dissatisfaction can't be dismissed lightly. But the opposition is split between Republican Christopher J. Christie and independent Chris Daggett, and neither has made a convincing case that he would do a better job in Trenton. As important, despite Corzine's flaws, the Democrat's record shows a capacity to go against the state's traditional politics and improve its government. Given that record and the weak alternatives, The Inquirer endorses JON CORZINE. (Editor, Inquirer)

Candidates take aim at mounting job losses

Governor Corzine rode into office as the former Wall Street banker who knew how to run a business and understood the economy. Four years later, he finds himself in the midst of the worst recession in 60 years, facing record unemployment and a discontented electorate desperate for someone to lead the state back to economic health. The grim numbers: 9.8 percent unemployment, a 32-year high; 168,500 jobs lost since the start of the recession. Running on his record, Corzine says his economic development programs and business tax cuts have paved the way for job growth. He says the state is positioned to "break out first" when the national economy recovers. (Morley, The Record)

Mulshine: Why the Republican Party in New Jersey should just give up

It’s official. The time has come. It’s time for the New Jersey Republican Party to go out of business and let some other party pretend to provide opposition to the Democrats. I’ve been thinking along these lines for years. But the final evidence came at a press conference in Trenton last week at which the Republican candidates for state Assembly touted what they call their “Common Sense Plan for an Affordable New Jersey.” Some of the same Republicans up there on the dais were in office back in the Christie Whitman era. If they had a plan for an affordable New Jersey, they could have enacted it back then, when they controlled the Legislature. (Mulshine, Star Ledger)

New rules for NJ county political committees

County political party committees in New Jersey are operating under new rules, which proponents say will bring more transparency to how the groups conduct their business. Gov. Jon Corzine signed legislation this month that requires the committees to adopt constitutions and bylaws, provide certain information on committee members and eliminate fixed terms for committee members and chairs. It also mandates that committee leaders have a continuing duty to report changes in committee membership. (AP)

Stile: A Ferriero verdict could diffuse glow from Obama visit

President Obama is heading to Hackensack on Wednesday to boost Governor Corzine's reelection bid. But an undesired and unplanned event could clog the political calendar the same day — a verdict in the federal fraud trial of Joe Ferriero, the former Bergen County Democratic leader who built his party machine in downtown Hackensack, about 1 1/2 miles from where Obama is scheduled to speak. Government prosecutors and Ferriero's attorneys are expected to make their closing arguments in Newark on Monday. The jury will then begin its deliberations, which could drag on for days. But it also creates the chance of a verdict being reached on Wednesday when Obama headlines the Corzine rally at the Rothman Center at the Fairleigh Dickinson University campus. (Stile, The Record)

Corzine’s confidence seen as double-edged

Gov. Jon Corzine has never been burdened by self-doubt, second thoughts or a lack of confidence. It's what fueled his rise, associates say, to the pinnacle of Wall Street and then to the top spot in New Jersey politics. But those same associates say it's also at the heart of Corzine's difficulties in trying to win a second term. (Heininger, Star Ledger)

The strange case of the missing man in the middle

An image that started people talking: Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie on one side, independent Chris Daggett on the other and in the middle an empty chair with Gov. Jon Corzine's name on a card in front of it. Thus began the joint Gannett New Jersey Newspapers editorial board, a tradition for statewide offices. Corzine faced editors from the six daily Gannett papers in the forum before, three times. He always did well and said he was treated fairly, even enjoyed it. (Ingle, Gannett)

News outlets ask federal courts to overrule NJ Supremes

Six major news outlets are asking a federal court to stop enforcement of a New Jersey state court ruling banning exit polling near voting sites. The suit is backed by the National Election Pool, a consortium that includes The Associated Press, CNN, Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS. The state Supreme Court on Sept. 30 barred exit polling and all “expressive activity” within 100 feet of polling places. (Ingle, Gannett)

Republicans link Daggett and Corzine in ad

If there was any doubt that Independent Chris Daggett has become a factor in the New Jersey gubernatorial election, the Republican Governors Association has ended it. The RGA is paying for radio and television ads criticizing Daggett's proposal to apply the sales tax to more services and use the revenue to cut property taxes. The ads are produced independently of Republican Chris Christie's campaign. Christie says Daggett's plan is no better than the economic policies of incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. The ads take it a step farther, with the tagline, "Chris Daggett: Like Corzine, only worse." Daggett is polling in the low teens — and analysts say he's syphoning support mostly from Christie. (Mulvihill, AP)

South Jersey unity paved way for Democrat ascension

When state Sen. Stephen M. Sweeney made his move for the second most powerful post in New Jersey's government, it might have looked like an uphill battle. After all, the West Deptford Democrat would need support from at least 21 senators to become Senate president — and his South Jersey base could provide only six votes. Also, the current officeholder — Sen. Richard Codey, D-Essex — showed no intention of yielding the clout he's held for eight years. (Walsh, Gannett)

Issue of ward-based City Council not a new concept in New Brunswick

When city voters decide next month whether to create a ward-based City Council, they'll be treading on familiar ground. On Nov. 3, residents will vote on a referendum to expand the current five-member council to nine members, with six elected by wards and three elected at-large. The current council has five at-large members. (Brickett, Gannett)

No, it’s not an attack: Restaurateurs back Christie

In a campaign in which Christie's weight has become an issue, it's probably not the endorsement he wanted most. Last week, the New Jersey Restaurant Association said it was supporting the Republican. The group says there's no joke. "He is committed to making New Jersey a competitive, affordable place to live, work and create jobs," said Deborah Dowdell, president of the organization.Meanwhile, Corzine picked up endorsements from three influential pastors in the Black Ministers Council, including the group's executive director, the Rev. Reginald Jackson. The group gives no collective endorsement, but individual members are encouraged to make their picks known.(AP)

NJ Governor debate carries tone of respect

They've been pummeling each other on the stump and in TV commercials, but the major candidates for governor were polite with each other Friday night in a surprisingly respectful debate. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, Republican Chris Christie and independent Chris Daggett highlighted their philosophical governing differences and disagreements on the issues while fielding questions from panelists and students at William Paterson University. For the most part, they stayed away from the personal attacks and vicious rhetoric that has put the campaign in the national spotlight. (Margolin/Heininger, Star Ledger)

Mulshine: Why the national GOP is as bad as the NJ GOP

After decades of watching this state's sorry excuse for a Republican Party initiate such liberal initiatives as government-funded preschool, that $8.7 billion in school-construction borrowing without voter approval and other atrocities, I make no secret of the fact that I just wish the Republicans would give up and let some other party form the opposition in Trenton. The final straw came earlier this year with the party politburo's unanimous endorsement of a campaign against conservative Steve Lonegan that was just one big, fat lie. It was positively Orwellian the way the party leaders cast Lonegan's plan to cut income taxes as a tax hike. (Mulshine, Star Ledger)

Hamilton: No political signs on public property

Township officials are reminding all political candidates that any political signs placed on public property or public rights of way will be removed.The township has seen an influx of political signs as residents gear up to vote on a number of increasingly contentious races that include township council, 14th Assembly District and gubernatorial campaigns. (Duffy, Newhouse)

Nine independent candidates watch from fringe as Daggett advances to front lines of gubernatorial race

When Gary Steele introduces himself as an independent candidate for governor, voters say they’ve seen him on television. Unfortunately for Steele, they’re talking about Chris Daggett, the high-profile independent in the race.”I say it’s not me, but thank you for thinking it was me,” he said. “They don’t realize it’s not my commercial.” While Daggett has advanced to the front lines of this year’s gubernatorial contest, nine other independents like Steele have struggled to make their voices heard. (Megerian, Star Ledger) Morning News Digest: October 19, 2009