Wednesday, June 3, 2009

New Jersey Match-Up

Christopher Christie yesterday won the Republican primary for governor of New Jersey. Nearly-complete returns show him winning 55% of the vote, to 42% for his main challenger, Steve Lonegan.

In the November 3 general election, Christie will face incumbent Governor Jon Corzine who, as expected, prevailed over token opposition in the Democratic primary.

Most polls have shown Christie ahead of Corzine.

Many articles, such as the New York Times report to which I've linked, emphasize that no Republican has won a statewide election in New Jersey, since then-Governor Christine Whitman was reelected in 1997. That's true, and is not insignificant. But there's an asterisk.

During that time, the office of governor has been the only office in state government in New Jersey, that has been subject to a statewide election. Unlike other states, where the attorney general, secretary of state, etc., are separately elected, in New Jersey those positions are filled by gubernatorial appointment.

Effective with this election, the state has created the office of lieutenant governor. During past gubernatorial vacancies, such as when Whitman resigned to take a federal office, and when Jim McGreevey resigned due to scandal, the president of the state Senate has become acting governor. Oddly, those acting governors have retained both their seat and leadership position in the Senate, while serving as governor.

The candidates for lieutenant governor will be hand-picked by the gubernatorial candidates, and will run on a ticket with them, so that doesn't create a separate statewide election.

My point is that there are fewer statewide elections in New Jersey, and therefore less chance for the minority party to pick up at least a token office in state government.

Be that as it may, the Republicans have gone through a 12-year drought, and they hope that Corzine's unpopularity will allow them to break that losing streak.

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