Morning News Digest: October 28, 2009

A focus group shows why the race is too close to call

Jon Corzine is the irresponsible son who spends too much money. Chris Christie is the brother in law who talks too much. And Chris Daggett is someone a cousin just started dating. Those were some of the more amusing responses Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray got when he asked a panel of undecided voters which of their relatives the three major gubernatorial candidates reminded them of. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Mason backs Corzine for re-election

A day before a local rally with Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, Second Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason became the only candidate in the Hoboken mayor's race to formally endorse Corzine's re-election. "As a resident of the second ward, Jon is a constituent of mine and I know him well," Mason said in a statement. "It's clear that he's the best choice for the future of Hoboken. The key issues that he has fought for in Trenton are deeply meaningful to myself and many others in the city. (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Clinton rallies Essex Dems for Corzine

Former President Bill Clinton tried to get the Essex County troops in battle mode this evening at Mayfair Farms as he made the case for Gov. Jon Corzine's reelection. Standing on a double-decker stage crammed with Democratic Party elected officials, Clinton rammed the good governor in tough economic times argument beside a beaming Corzine. "New Jersey is the first state in the country in median income, and the median income increased in 2008," said Clinton. "Yours is the first state to have an economic recovery plan.. …The mortgage foreclosure rate is half the national average. This governor has reduced the size of government while increasing school funding by a billion dollars. Under his watch, there has been an 11% reduction of kids without health insurance. You're the second state in the country to enact Paid Family Leave." (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Corzine still has huge financial advantage in race

Governor Corzine continues to tap into his personal fortune to dramatically outspend his opponents in a comeback bid for a second term, reports released Tuesday show. Corzine, a wealthy former Wall Street executive, has spent $23.6 million so far on the general election, compared to Republican Chris Christie’s $8.8 million and independent Chris Daggett’s $1.2 million, according to the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. Corzine donated or loaned his general election campaign $22.6 million of its total $24.1 million, writing checks to cover TV ads, several pollsters and a $15,000 hall rental for President Obama’s recent visit to Fairleigh Dickinson University. (Margolin/Heininger, The Record)

Gubernatorial candidates offer economic proposal at Times sessions

New Jersey voters have seven days to decide who will lead the state for the next four years. They have Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat who says he's in the middle of turning things around and needs the next four years to accomplish his original goals. They have Republican Chris Christie, the state's former U.S. Attorney, who has pledged to cut taxes and spending in an aggressive way to get out of this deficit. They have independent candidate Chris Daggett, the former head of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, who will expand the sales tax to additional services, but has promised a strong cut to property taxes. As the three major candidates make their final push to secure votes for the Nov. 3 election, they sat down for individual interviews with the Times editorial board on Tuesday. (McCarthy, Newhouse)

Candidates zero in on Bergen County

The campaigns for Governor Corzine, Republican Chris Christie and independent Chris Daggett are all focusing on Bergen County — and its more than 500,000 voters — to try to swing a vote that is tied in most polls. To turn out their own voters and reach the many independents in the county, the campaigns are using direct mail, television commercials, phone calls and frequent visits by the candidates. At stake is the 530,640 registered voters who live in Bergen County, the county that usually determines which way an election will go in New Jersey. “It’s going to be a battle,” said Mike DuHaime, a consultant for the Christie campaign. “It’s going to be a fight.” (Reitmeyer, The Record)

Adler turns back on the little guys

John Adler, a tool of the Boss Norcross machine in South Jersey when he was chairman of the NJ Senate Judiciary Committee in Trenton, is now in Washington as a first-term congressman trying to weaken a badly needed investor protection bill, says The Huffington Post. “Adler, a member of the pro-business New Democrat Coalition, is proposing to exempt publicly-traded firms with market capitalization less than $700 million from a provision of Sarbanes-Oxley mandating an external audit of the firm,” according to the article on (Ingle, Gannett)

Glo. Twp. official charged in dispute

A local official is accused of pulling a knife during a dispute after Monday night's council meeting, police said. But 74-year-old Robert Richards, who faces aggravated assault and weapons charges, contends he was holding a pen during the incident and that he did not threaten anyone. Richards — who is the township's zoning board chairman and a Democratic committee member — also vowed to bring countercharges today against his adversary, township Public Works Director Gabe Busa. Richards' comments were provided by a spokesman, Kevin Piccolo, treasurer of Gloucester Township's Democratic Party. "This one's kind of unusual," township Police Capt. Ray Evans said of the hotly disputed incident. (Walsh, Gannett) Morning News Digest: October 28, 2009