Morning News Digest: October 29, 2008

Historically, NJ likes governors with the party out of the White House

The outcome of the 2009 campaign for Governor of New Jersey is not historically significant to Barack Obama's presidency. It is almost twice as likely that New Jerseyans elect a governor who is not a member of the president's party. Indeed, the party of the incumbent president is 15-26 in New Jersey gubernatorial races since a Democrat won in Abraham Lincoln's mid-term election.(Edge, PolitickerNJ)

Christie galvanizes GOP base in Tom's River

Energizing a town hall chamber filled with supporters, Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie launched his final week, 21-county tour this afternoon in the heart of Republican Ocean County. "I believe hope is real," said Christie. "You have to go out now and convince not just fellow Republicans, but Democrats and independents: in your church parking lots, soccer and football fields, school yards. We can say hope is real with a sense of conviction. We must have the courage to believe New Jersey can be a better place." This was where Christie began his campaign last February, and with six days remaining in his bid to unseat Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, he again expressed his desire that "Toms River and Ocean County will provide (running mate) Kim Guadagno and me the margin of victory we need to win this election." (Pizarro, PolitickerNJ)

Corzine and Christie camps spin Qpac poll numbers

In an email to supporters, Chris Christie Campaign Manager Bill Stepien struck an optimistic tone despite the Quinnipiac University poll from this morning showing his candidate trailing Gov. Jon Corzine by five points. “The good news is that voters are paying attention: 2 of the 3 public polls released in the last 24 hours show Chris ahead!” said Stepien, referring to surveys from Rasmussen Reports and Public Policy Polling that both showed Christie with a four point lead. But neither of those polls have the heft of Quinnipiac. The campaign itself seized on Quinnipiac’s summer poll numbers, which showed Christie leading by double digits.(Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Next governor will shape NJ Supreme Court

It’s not the hottest issue on the campaign trail, but how the candidates for governor stand on the appointment of state Supreme Court justices could have an impact on New Jersey for years to come. That’s because the next governor could remake the seven-member court by appointing as many as four justices — and loading a majority of the bench to suit his political philosophy as New Jersey struggles with complicated issues such as taxes, gay marriage and school funding. (Fuchs, Star Ledger)

Mulshine: NJ's Republican legacy leaves Christie on the defensive

I don’t know if you read my colleague Mark Di Ionno’s column yesterday in which he interviewed one of the top experts on New Jersey’s public pension system. If not, I’ll sum it up in three words: We. Are. Broke. New Jersey taxpayers are on the hook for pensions and lifetime health benefits to more than 400,000 state, county, municipal and school employees. The state pension fund does not have the money to pay those pensions and benefits. In fact. Gov. Jon Corzine has already stated he plans to shortchange the fund by $2 billion in the first year after his putative re-election. (Mulshine, Star Ledger)

Christie predicts victory, ridicules Corzine

Republican gubernatorial Chris Christie predicted victory and mocked Gov. Corzine on Wednesday as he began his final bus tour toward Election Day. Even with a new Quinnipiac University Poll showing him behind, Christie said he and his running mate, Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno, were headed to Trenton to "turn it upside down" to cut government spending and taxes. Then Christie ridiculed Corzine for relying on a parade of popular national Democratic politicians to wage his campaign. (Method, APP)

Christie's mistake: ignoring real issues

The Garden State is afflicted with the highest property taxes in the nation and its highest unemployment rate in over 30 years. Yet, Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher J. Christie hasn't been able to exploit the malaise under rival Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine, of Hoboken. Instead, Christie talks about easing travel restrictions on his would-be Cabinet. Who cares? The State Labor Department recently announced that the jobless rate hit 9.8 percent in September – the highest since 9.7 percent in 1977, when the agency began keeping records. (Albright, Jersey Journal)

NJ gubernatorial candidates Corzine, Christie, and Daggett campaign for final six days before election

Gov. Jon Corzine grabbed a 5-point lead over Republican challenger Chris Christie in a Quinnipiac University poll released today, as the candidates swung through diners, town halls and an elementary school on the last leg of their campaigns. Corzine’s 43 percent to 38 percent advantage among likely voters, with 13 percent for independent Chris Daggett and 5 percent undecided, is the Democratic governor’s first lead in the widely respected Quinnipiac survey since the campaign began. (Heininger/Fleisher, Star Ledger)

Daggett says Mass. Republican told him to quit

The independent candidate running for governor in New Jersey says a Massachusetts Republican has urged him to quit the race. Chris Daggett said he's received two phone calls and an e-mail from Christy Mihos, who warned that Daggett would be blamed if Republican Chris Christie loses a bid to unseat Democrat Jon Corzine. Mihos ran for governor of Massachusetts as an independent in 2006 and is planning to challenge to Gov. Deval Patrick in 2010 as a Republican. (AP)

Stile: GOP 'pop guns' up against 'AK-47s' cash gap in 36th hurts challengers

Carmen Pio Costa's campaign SUV glided through the gray, pre-dinner-hour drizzle in Rutherford on Tuesday and down into Lyndhurst, aided by a satellite-navigation system. But the smooth ride, blotting out the noise of the traffic and the thundering Teterboro-bound jets, could not mask the political reality the 36th Legislative District Assembly candidate is facing — an uphill climb against Democratic incumbents who have aggressively used their 7-to-1 fund-raising advantage. "We have enough to put out our message, and our message will prevail," he says. The campaigns of Pio Costa, 30, of Nutley, and running mate Donald Diorio are in some ways a microcosm of the challenges Republicans face in this year's races for governor and Assembly spots. (Stile, The Record)

Ingle: Now this is disconcerting

Rick Newman of U.S. News & World Report has written an article about nine signs America is in decline. He writes: “But all empires end, and the warning signs of American decline seem to be blinking more consistently. In the latest annual “prosperity index” published by the Legatum Institute, a London-based research firm, the United States ranks as the ninth most prosperous country in the world. That’s five notches lower than last year, when America ranked No. 4. The drop might seem inconsequential, especially in the midst of a grueling recession—except that most of the world has endured the same recession, and other countries are bouncing back faster.” (Ingle, Gannett)

Independent gubernatorial candidates offer alternatives

If Jon S. Corzine drives you crazy, Chris Christie leaves you cringing and Chris Daggett disappoints you, don't despair: You've got nine other choices for governor on this year's ballot. Or at least take solace you might find a candidate you like, despite the cold political reality that none of those nine — or the apparently surging independent Chris Daggett, to hear Republican Chris Christie tell it — has a solid chance of winning.Most of them say otherwise — that an electorate not enthused about Corzine or his two established rivals and exasperated by economic hardship and New Jersey's government could conceivably elect them, if they only knew they're on the ballot. (Symons, Gannett)

Eight NJ independent candidates debate at Clifton High School

Eight of the state's largely unknown independent candidates debated in a mostly empty school auditorium tonight, pushing divergent platforms to cure New Jersey's various ills. None of them have received more than minimal press coverage, but Libertarian Ken Kaplan thought he had a solution. Playing rock and roll music, he stripped off his suit jacket and tie, revealing a T-shirt reading "Freedom is my anti-gov." "We need to strip government," he said. "We need to strip government to the bare bones." The other candidates didn't get so elaborate. But Kostas Petris, a diner manager, appeared to get choked up when discussing how he couldn't get the independents to work together. "Instead of joining forces, we've divided ourselves and our votes," he said. "The independents should come together." (Star Ledger)

Dems hope to gain seat on all-GOP Hillsborough committee

Keeping property taxes stable, removing mercury from the federal General Services Administration depot, preserving open space and finding ways to boost business are critical issues in the campaign for two three-year township committee seats. Republican incumbents Carl Suraci and Bob Wagner are running against Democrats Jim Farley and William Rossi, who are attempting to crack the all-Republican hold on the township committee.Suraci, 43, who works in global quality management for Princeton-based Church & Dwight Co., has lived here since 2004. Wagner, 45, is a manager for Comcast Cable and has lived in the township for more than 15 years. Both Suraci and Wagner previously served as mayor and Wagner currently is the deputy mayor. (Sroka-Holzmann, Gannett)

Independents want to cut Magazzu's power

Three former Cumberland County freeholders are on a mission. That mission is to remove Democratic Freeholder Director Lou Magazzu from power in what they see as an action that could clear the way for real change. The choice of Jane Christy, Jennifer Swift and Bruce Peterson – all of whom are Democrats – to run as independent candidates for Cumberland County freeholder in this year's election against their own party has come at a price. They've been called renegades. They've been called traitors. Given the nature of what they seek to accomplish, the name-calling comes as no surprise.(Dunn, Newhouse)

Democrats face challenge from Republican

On Nov 3, Democrats Mark Tomko and incumbent Mark Lepinski will face off against Republican hopeful Christopher Sinisi for two three-year terms on the Wallington council. Lepinski, a Bergen County Police lieutenant, decided to run for re-election after 12 years as a councilman because he believes that while he has accomplished many goals, there is still much to be done in the municipality. Given the difficult economic times it’s important that the people who run the borough are experienced in the affairs of Wallington, according to Lepinski. (Tyrka, Community News) Morning News Digest: October 29, 2008