Morning News Digest: November 4, 2009

Christie elected governor, defeats Corzine by 106,000 votes; GOP gains one Assembly seat

Republican Christopher J. Christie, who won acclaim as a corruption buster during his seven years as the United States Attorney, was elected Governor of New Jersey, defeating incumbent Jon S. Corzine by more than 105,000 votes. Republicans picked up one State Assembly seat, captured control of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders, and won Freeholder seats in Bergen, Passaic, and Cumberland counties. Christie, 47, is the first Republican to win statewide in twelve years. He won big margins in Republican counties like Monmouth and Ocean, and beat Corzine in two Democratic counties, Middlesex and Gloucester. (Editor, PolitickerNJ)

Christie: ‘there is hope for real change’

Chris Christie tonight delivered for the New Jersey GOP a governorship – the first time a Republican has won a statewide race in New Jersey in a dozen years – and by a margin greater than even most Republicans expected. Once he is sworn in January, Christie will become the state's 55th governor. By the time he started his victory speech, unofficial results showed a Christie victory of 106,000 over Corzine. Independent Christopher Daggett, up to 20% in one October poll, fell back to earth on Election Day, getting in the low single digits. When the Bruce Springsteen cover band stopped playing for a few minutes to show footage of Daggett's concession speech with audio, the crowd gave off an intense boo. Christie was introduced by Lieutenant Governor-Elect Kim Guadagno, who said "Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to see change. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Tittel: Corzine messed up the base

Sierra Club New Jersey Chapter Director Jeff Tittel made it to the Chris Christie rally after watching independent Chris Daggett, who his group endorsed, give his concession speech. “Jon Corzine wasn’t true to his base and he lost,” said Tittel. “Groups like the environmentalists are angry at him… so many other progressives and liberal Democrats stayed home.” It was a different tune than what some of the conservative members of the crowd were saying – that the election was a pushback against Trenton’s overspending and other liberal priorities. And Corzine’s push to nationalize the race by bringing President Obama in to campaign for him was a major appeal the Democratic base. But Tittel said Corzine made a “big mistake” by bringing Obama in. While the audiences were taken by the President, their ho-hum attitude towards Corzine showed, he said. (Friedman, PolitickerNJ)

Chris Christie wins governor race

Republican Chris Christie has defeated Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in New Jersey. With 71 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Christie had 50 percent of the vote to Corzine's 44 percent. Christie, a 47-year-old former federal prosecutor, became the first member of his party in a dozen years to win a statewide contest in heavily Democratic New Jersey. The Republican victory deals a blow to President Barack Obama as he readies for next year's midterm elections. Obama campaigned heavily for Corzine. Christie accepted public financing in the race against the wealthy incumbent and was outspent by more than $12 million. He ran on a platform of smaller government and criticized Corzine for what he called poor economic stewardship. State unemployment was nearly 10 percent in October and property taxes are the nation's highest. (AP)

GOP wins two key governors’ races, Bloomberg prevails by close margin

Republicans swept contests for governor in New Jersey and Virginia on Tuesday as voters went to the polls filled with economic uncertainty, dealing President Obama a setback and building momentum for a Republican comeback attempt in next year’s midterm Congressional elections. But in a closely watched Congressional race in upstate New York, a Democrat who received a late push from the White House triumphed over a conservative candidate who attracted national backers ranging from Rush Limbaugh to Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor. In New Jersey, a former federal prosecutor, Christopher J. Christie, became the first Republican to win statewide in 12 years by vowing to attack the state’s fiscal problems with the same aggressiveness he used to lock up corrupt politicians. He overcame a huge Democratic voter advantage and a relentless barrage of negative commercials to defeat Jon S. Corzine, an unpopular incumbent who outspent him by more than two to one and drew heavily on political help from the White House, including three visits to the state from President Obama. (Halbfinger/Urbina, New York Times)

Bloomberg wins third term as NYC mayor

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg won a third term as New York mayor Tuesday in a closer-than-expected race against a Democratic challenger who stoked voter resentment over the way Bloomberg changed the city's term-limits law so he could stay in office. With all precincts reporting, Bloomberg, the richest man in New York and founder of the financial information company Bloomberg LP, defeated William Thompson Jr. 51 percent to 46 percent. The mayor called it a "hard-fought victory in a very difficult year," and promised that New Yorkers "ain't seen nothing yet" from him."I'm committed to working twice as hard in the next four years as I did in the past eight," Bloomberg said. In the days leading up to the election, polls showed Bloomberg with as much as an 18-point lead, an edge so big that critics accused the mayor of overkill in his strategy of bombarding the city with campaign ads. His actual margin of victory was far smaller than the nearly 20-point blowout he pulled off in 2005. (AP)

RNC Chairman Steele says Christie’s victory to have national implications

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele, fresh from congratulating the Republican governor-elect Bob McDonnell in Virginia, arrived here Tuesday night as Chris Christie's victory party was winding down. Steele said he always believed Christie would win by "four points or better," and called financial support from the national GOP "important" to keeping the race competitive against wealthy Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. "I'm just honored that we were able to spend a little bit of cash to help," Steele told reporters. He said Republican victories in the New Jersey and Virginia races speak to broader themes than just the states themselves. (Heininger/Megerian, Star Ledger)

GOP keeps seats in Districts 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 30

State Assembly races in Monmouth and Ocean counties were dominated by Republican candidates this Election Day. Republican incumbents Amy H. Handlin and Samuel D. Thompson cruised to victory in the 13th Legislative District race. Handlin, 53, of Middletown, and Thompson, 74, of Old Bridge, had taken on Democrats Robert Brown, 54, of Old Bridge and James Grenafege, 60, of Middletown, and independent Sean Dunne, 32, of Holmdel. Not a single Democrat has charmed the majority of voters of the 30th Legislative District since it was formed 18 years ago, and that trend continued Tuesday night, with voters overwhelmingly re-electing the two Republican incumbent assemblymen. (APP)

Moran: NJ’s election of ‘unapologetic conservative’ marks personal rebuke of Corzine

The era of Jon Corzine — as senator, governor and the state’s most unabashed liberal leader — ended tonight at the hands of a political neophyte who ran as an unapologetic conservative. It was the first Democratic loss in a statewide race in more than a decade, one that gives Republicans the ability to raise money and rebuild, to reshape the Supreme Court, to finally exercise some real power after their long years in the wilderness. But with the Legislature remaining firmly in Democratic hands, this was a pointed personal loss for Corzine. He has spent at least $125 million in the last decade on his own campaigns, breaking every record as he tried to win the hearts and minds of New Jersey voters. And it never quite stuck. He was awkward in his public appearances, stumbling in his speech and distant from legislators in his own party. (Moran, Star Ledger)

Democrats maintain control of Assembly

Democrats held on to their comfortable majority in New Jersey's Assembly, presenting a challenge to Christopher J. Christie, the former U.S. attorney who defeated incumbent Democratic Gov. Corzine for the governorship. At the same time, both state Senate seats vacated as a result of last year's congressional elections were retained by their respective parties. In the Senate, Democrat James Beach – a Voorhees resident who served as Camden County clerk and freeholder – bested Republican Joseph Adolf in the heavily Democratic Sixth District. The Camden County seat had been vacated by John Adler. In Republican-leaning District 23, the GOP's Michael Doherty easily defeated Democrat Harvey Baron for Leonard Lance's Senate seat in Hunterdon and Warren Counties. In Republican-leaning District 23, the GOP's Michael Doherty easily defeated Democrat Harvey Baron for Leonard Lance's Senate seat in Hunterdon and Warren Counties. On the Assembly side, Republicans targeted a handful of districts where it believed gains were possible. One was the Fourth, covering mainly blue-collar areas in Camden and Gloucester Counties, where GOP contender Domenick DiCicco won. (Colimore, Inquirer)

How Christie won

It took six months of campaigning before Chris Christie believed he could actually win the race for governor. One late July morning — in the days after the FBI arrested 44 people in a record-setting corruption sting — the former federal prosecutor turned to his wife, Mary Pat, and suggested they prepare for the new life that would come with victory. "She looked and stared, like, ‘really?’" Christie recalled. "Then she said, ‘You know, I think you’re right.’" In the next few months, the Republican’s double-digit lead in the polls gave way to a neck-and-neck race against the wealthy Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine. The campaign deteriorated into a name-calling brawl over ethics, issues and Christie’s weight — and an upstart independent, Chris Daggett, proclaimed that he, not Christie, was the true agent of change. But Christie survived, becoming the first Republican to win a statewide election in a dozen years. "There was always a confidence that this could happen," said Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Monmouth), Christie’s campaign chairman. "There was perhaps a euphoria in the summertime. But we always cautioned ourselves that the numbers would get close." (Heininger/Margolin, The Record)

How Corzine lost

Gov Corzine never quite fit the profile of a white knight — not with the beard and the bald spot and the predilection for sweater vests — but when he rolled into office four years ago, he seemed a better bet than most to tame New Jersey’s runaway spending and property taxes. Voters liked his pedigree as one of Wall Street’s brightest lights, a trader who had risen to CEO at Goldman Sachs, a top investment house. Five years in the U.S. Senate added a touch of gravitas and political experience to the package. One tumultuous term later, as property taxes continue to climb and as residents feel the lingering pinch of the longest national recession since World War II, those same voters have shown Corzine the door. With his loss Tuesday night to former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie, Corzine becomes just the third New Jersey governor in the past 60 years to go down after a single term in office. (Mueller, Star Ledger)

Mulshine: the man without mandate

It’s wonderful to watch democracy in action, and I know I’ll sleep better as a result of having witnessed this campaign for governor. I’ll just think back on the speeches and I’ll be out before my head hits the pillow. Has there ever been a year in which two candidates had so little to say about issues of such importance? If so, I can’t recall it. The winner last night, Republican Chris Christie, managed to get through the entire campaign without taking a single principled stand on a single issue. He was against waste, fraud and abuse. He was against corruption. He was in favor of tax cuts. And that was about it. As a result, Christie can’t claim a mandate. That’s not just because he won by such a small margin in what should have been a runaway. It’s also because you can’t win a mandate to do nothing — which is what he promised to do. As for his opponent, Jon Corzine honestly seemed to believe in his pie-in-the-sky promises. Despite his background as a hard-numbers guy on Wall Street, Corzine lives in a world where everyone believes in the gauzy goals of the progressive movement. (Mulshine, Star Ledger)

Stile: state GOP is rudderless no more

For the past few years now, callers to the state Republican Party headquarters in Trenton listened to a taped speech of Ronald Reagan crackling through the phone lines — an apt metaphor for a rudderless party still stuck in its past. But with Christopher J. Christie’s impressive victory Tuesday, the state GOP is |no longer rudderless, and the Reagan speech is no longer irrelevant. The 47-year-old former federal prosecutor is poised to lead the Republican establishment back from its long, cashless exile from Trenton power. But unlike his moderate forebears Christie Whitman and Thomas H. Kean, voters may have picked the most conservative governor in modern state history. “He is a mainstream conservative,’’ said Gregg Edwards, a political analyst and policy adviser to the Christie campaign. “He’s no Calvin Coolidge. He’s going to be an activist governor. … He loves to work on this stuff. He loves the process, and he loves a good fight. Not for the sake of having a fight, but he won’t back down.” (Stile, The Record)

Apology is given for using name of senator

A South Jersey union leader apologized Tuesday for creating a quote and putting a Gloucester County state senator's name on it without his permission in a news release urging the U.S. Senate to defeat a bill to address climate change. State Sen. Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said he was "furious" to see his quote in The Record opposing a bill before the U.S. Senate that would create a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions. One reason, Sweeney said, is he sponsored a state law in Trenton creating a similar system for the Northeast, known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. James Kehoe, president of the Southern New Jersey Building Trades Council, said he "took some liberties in using Steve's name" in the news release issued last week. "We had some brief conversations, but I never got the go-ahead, so my apologies," Kehoe said. Refinery workers at Valero Energy's refinery in Paulsboro are part of the labor council, and they are worried carbon restrictions in the Senate bill would cost them their jobs if oil companies were to refine oil into gasoline in countries that do not have those restrictions. (Jackson, The Record)

Dawn Zimmer wins Hoboken race

Acting Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer has won today's special election. About 200 supporters are cheering her wildly now as she gives her victory speech at her Washington Street headquarters, Hoboken Now's Amy Sara Clark reports from the scene. Councilwoman Beth Mason, who appears to be the second-place finisher, has conceded. Former Councilman Frank Raia, who appears to be the third-place finisher, went to Zimmer headquarters to congratulate her. Zimmer thanked her supporters for their dedication and noted that many people had taken time off from work to volunteer for her. Her priority, she said, is to finally get a budget. "I'm really overwhelmed. I'm just so honored to have the voters choose me and elect me as mayor,'' she told Clark in an interview after her speech. She ran a positive campaign, stressing her plans for flooding, transportation and parks as well as get a budget and lower property taxes. (Schmidt, Jersey Journal)

Essex County Sheriff Fontoura wins unprecedented seventh term

Armando Fontoura, first elected Essex County’s sheriff in 1991, swept to an unprecedented seventh term to stay at the helm of the county’s 600-member-strong law-enforcement arm. The victory was just as strong as his last run in 2006, when he captured 74.4 percent of the vote to re-take a post he has described as his "dream job." Going into Election Day, however, Fontoura didn’t take a victory for granted. In the final stretch, he spent $16,065 in direct campaign outlays, taking ads in nine media outlets and even dropping $4,708 for a campaign breakfast at the Mediterranean Manor in Newark’s Ironbound, according to his latest campaign finance report. (Read, Star Ledger)

Democrat Ricigliano elected mayor of Edison

For the first time in Edison history, a woman will be mayor. Democrat Antonia "Toni'' Ricigliano marched to victory Tuesday night after a year-long battle that started with ousting incumbent Mayor Jun Choi in the Democratic primary before wrestling the seat from Republican challenger Dennis Pipala in Tuesday's general election. "It truly feels wonderful to be the first woman mayor in Edison,'' a victorious Ricigliano said Tuesday night. "We have a lot of work ahead of us and I'm up to the task,'' she said. Ricigliano got 12,186 votes, an overwhelming lead of 4,186 votes over Pipala who got 8,000 votes. Absentee ballots are not included in this count. The three council candidates on Ricigliano's ticket were also voted into power … incumbent Councilman Robert Diehl got 11,483 votes, Thomas Lankey got 11,099 votes and Charles Tomaro got 11,313 votes. (Amuthan, Gannett) Morning News Digest: November 4, 2009