What Will the Philadelphia Inquirer Do?

I treasure my friendship with Carl Golden. Not only are he and his wife, Linda wonderful people; he was without question the finest Governor’s press secretary in New Jersey history. I am most proud to say that throughout my years of public service, he was my mentor in terms of media and press relations. The Christie campaign, including the candidate himself, sorely needed the tutelage of somebody comparable to Carl Golden throughout this past year.


Carl is now retired, and I talk to him almost every day. As shown by his columns on New Jersey Newsroom and the Star-Ledger website, he has lost none of his unsurpassed perception, sharpness, and political sagacity.


I asked him after the Star-Ledger endorsement of Chris Daggett what he thought its real impact would be. Carl answered directly with three words: “Third party validation”.


Indeed, third party validation is the essence of credibility. The more Chris Daggett’s credibility increases, the less likely his vote share will decrease significantly on Election Day from his final poll numbers.


In the Quinnipiac Poll released this past Tuesday, Daggett received a surprisingly high 18 per cent of the vote in South Jersey. The key question is how much of this vote will ultimately defect to either Jon Corzine or Chris Christie, since the poll also stated that 59 per cent of the Daggett voters statewide might change their minds before Election Day.


Again, this is where credibility is the key. By “credibility”, I do not mean whether a candidate is perceived as likely to win. Rather, credibility in this context is best defined in terms of whether voters perceive a gubernatorial candidate as capable of governing successfully if he is elected.


This brings me to the issue of the significance of the forthcoming Philadelphia Inquirer endorsement.


Brian Tierney, the publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer is a Republican. When he and a group of local businessmen purchased the Inquirer in 2006, Tierney signed a pledge not to interfere with the paper's editorial independence. To my knowledge, he has abided by that pledge.


If the Inquirer endorses Chris Daggett, this would be a key to limiting defections from his vote to Corzine or Christie on Election Day. The Inquirer endorsement would be a major asset to Daggett in terms of credibility with South Jersey voters,


To whom will the Inquirer give its endorsement? I doubt very much that they would endorse Christie, given the liberal leanings of the Inquirer editorial staff. It is possible, however, that they would endorse Chris Daggett over Corzine.


The Inquirer endorsement would do more than simply benefit Daggett in South Jersey.


If Daggett has enough money, he could run a commercial on network and cable television over the final campaign weekend featuring the Star-Ledger and Inquirer endorsements. I have no doubt that this could solidify Daggett’s support statewide. This would doom Christie’s candidacy and guarantee a Corzine win.


Stay tuned.


Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and seven federally recognized Indian nations. What Will the Philadelphia Inquirer Do?