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Blog Home Page --> Governor -- New Jersey

Election Night Live Blog

Head over to the RCP Blog for a live election night thread on the races in New Jersey, Virginia, New York and elsewhere. Mike and I, as well as our RCP colleagues, will be updating it throughout the night.

Mike is in New Jersey and I'm in Virginia.

Rallying Labor, Corzine Says Election Will Send Message

corzineeday.jpgPARAMUS, N.J. -- As the national party and the White House downplay the implications of today's vote, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) fired up a labor rally here by saying his re-election would give a boost to the Obama agenda in Washington.

Joined by national labor leaders, Corzine specifically brought up the fight over the Employee Free Choice Act, and said: "We want to send a message to America that in the most labor friendly state in America, we're returning the governor no matter how tough times are."

Several hundred workers attended the lunch-time rally, some greeting him by asking if he was "Fired up," an Obama campaign credo. The governor, saying this was "the last election I run in," said the union's GOTV efforts were critical not just for his future but the president's.

"Our president is working for a national health care program," he said. "He needs our help so that he can tell the Congress there is no lack of support out in the countryside. We stand with our president."

He surprised even some in the union hall with some salty language, saying Obama has already begun to "stop that trickle-down economic stuff that got us into this damn mess from the Bush people."

"We will have things going in the right direction," he said.

Corzine then went to a local diner, where actor Abe Vigoda also made an appearance.

Countdown '09: New York-23, New Jersey and Virginia (Today!)

NEW YORK-23 (Latest Polls)

*A local paper writes about the big final rallies.

*Scozzafava talks about her decision to drop out, and back the Democrat.

*What to watch for in the race.

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +1.0)

*On Election Day, Gov. Jon Corzine's schedule is heavy on labor GOTV events. Chris Christie visits some diners and goes to a local GOP headquarters. Chris Daggett also has some retail stops and does some interviews.

*Expecting a recount? And charges of voter fraud. Gear up for what could be a wild day.

*Judges and attorneys will be on hand in courthouses around the state.

*Democrats admitted that they were behind a robocall praising indie Daggett and knocking Republican Christie.

*The suburbs are key in a state that's mostly suburban.

*Corzine thinks he has momentum.

*Look who joined Christie yesterday: former Gov. Christie Whitman. Also, Tom Kean.

*The Seinfeld of races: A "campaign about nothing"?

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +13.4)

*Polls close at 7 p.m. ET.

*Down so far in the polls, Deeds is facing a tougher task of getting out the vote than McDonnell.

*Virginians want "jobs, jobs and more jobs."

*Both candidates swung through Charlottesville yesterday.

*Chuck Todd calls Deeds' campaign "inept."

*Brad Todd says the race came down to the "advertising decisions made by both parties" in Northern Virginia.

*Democratic strategists are preparing to lose all three big races today.

NJ Gov Poll: FDU Shows Corzine Ahead, But Omits Daggett

FDU has released updated numbers (10/22-11/1, 1,119 LVs, +/-3%) from the governor's race, showing Gov. Jon Corzine (D) narrowly ahead. But we post with an important disclaimer: the results are from a ballot test that did not mention independent candidate Chris Daggett.

General Election Matchup (Daggett Volunteered)
Corzine 43 (-1 vs. last poll, 10/22-28)
Christie 41 (-2)
Daggett 8 (+2)
Don't Know 5 (+1)

In the last survey, Corzine also lead when respondents were given just the two major party candidates. But Christie led in a ballot test that included Daggett.

Also today, Democracy Corps (D) released its latest poll which again shows Corzine in the lead, 41-37-15.

Recount In Jersey? Candidates, Parties Planning For One

With recent polling showing that the top two candidates in New Jersey's gubernatorial race are separated by just a few points, it's no surprise that the campaigns and parties are preparing for the possibility of a recount should the final result be too close to call.

"We certainly have anticipated and prepared for this scenario," said Maria Comella, spokesperson for Republican Chris Christie. Spokesperson Lis Smith said officials in Gov. Jon Corzine's campaign are also "preparing" for a possible recount; both declined to comment further on the nature of those preparations, however.

Robert Giles, director of the New Jersey Division of Elections, said that there is no automatic trigger which would require a recount after Tuesday's vote. Either candidate has 15 days to request that county officials double-check their tallies, and can do so no matter what the margin of victory. Such a request would be made in state Superior Court.

"It's definitely a possibility," Giles said, noting that in 1993 and 1997, the gubernatorial races were decided by fewer than 25,000 votes. The 1981 race was even closer, as Republican Tom Kean was victorious by just an 1,800-vote margin. That was the last time a candidate requested a recount take place (then-Rep. Jim Florio).

Continue reading "Recount In Jersey? Candidates, Parties Planning For One" »

NJ Gov Polls: Photo Finish

Two more surveys out in New Jersey, both with different results. The takeaway: this race is likely within the margin of error.

Monmouth University/Gannett
(722 LVs, 10/31-11/1, +/- 3.7%)
Corzine 43 (+1 vs. last poll, 10/28-30)
Christie 41 (-2)
Daggett 8 (unch)
Don't Know 7 (+2)

(582 LVs*, 10/30-11/1, +/- 4.1%)
Christie 45 (+2 vs. last poll, 10/26-28)
Corzine 42 (-1)
Daggett 10 (-1)
Undecided 3 (unch)

"If the undecided vote breaks largely for the Republican, this race could be a squeaker," says Monmouth's Patrick Murray. Their polling sample has a lower GOP response rate than SurveyUSA's, though the latter has a higher Dem response rate as well.

SurveyUSA notes that the poll was in the field as New Jerseyans were glued to the World Series, and families were out trick-or-treating. "As such, results of this survey should be interpreted cautiously: a narrow Corzine victory is not inconsistent with the data, but a narrow Christie win is more consistent with the data." A warning sign, however: Christie's lead among independent voters has climbed from 12 to 30 points in a month. Corzine does lead, however, among those who say they have already voted.

Countdown '09: New York-23, New Jersey and Virginia (1 Day)

NEW YORK-23 (Latest Polls)

*Owens (D) and Scozzafava (R), together on the campaign trail.

*Politico has a tick-tock on Scozzafava's decision to back the Democrat.

*VP Biden will do what he can today as he campaigns for Owens.

*The race could be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the conservative base bucking national GOP leadership.

*The weekend's developments will reverberate beyond the district's boundaries.

*Is it a good sign for the GOP if NY-23 is a bellwether for 2010?

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +1.2)

*New Polls: Is Christie pulling ahead?

*The Times looks at Democratic efforts to score a victory tomorrow.

*Christie says it all comes down to turnout.

*Republicans are unhappy with a late robocall that aims to push Christie voters to Daggett.

*Joe "You Lie" Wilson was in the Garden State boosting his fellow Republican.

*The Post says Obama's butt is on the line for Corzine.

*Property taxes is the big issue, as always.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +13.8)

*New York Times looks at the two governor's races and what they could mean for Obama and Democrats.

*McDonnell appears to be running away with the race.

*Deeds took to criticizing McDonnell for negative campaigning.

*Whoever is elected will likely need to slash the budget, as the state faces a $1 billion shortfall.

*Jim Moran being Jim Moran: He compares McDonnell to Taliban.

*Did GOP's road to victory start with "The Deal"?

*What it's really all about -- this is where the candidates stand on the issues.

*Sarah Palin is robo-calling Virginians, urging them to "vote for Sarah's principles."

NJ Gov Poll: More Evidence Of A Christie Surge

Quinnipiac's final poll in New Jersey (1,533 LVs, 10-27-11/1, +/- 2.5%) shows a significant late swing toward Republican Chris Christie, giving us a trend showing movement against the incumbent.

General Election Matchup
Christie 42 (+4 from last poll, 10/20-26)
Corzine 40 (-3)
Daggett 12 (-1)
Undecided 6 (+1)

Christie's support seems to be most committed at this point, with 90 percent of his supporters saying their mind is made up. Nearly four in 10 of Daggett's supporters could still change their mind; Corzine is the second-choice candidate of 39 percent, with Christie at 29 percent.

The Republican now has a 1.2 point lead in the RCP Average of New Jersey.

Weekend Polls: Christie Feeling the Mo'?

There appears to be a late surge against the incumbent in New Jersey as we count down the hours to Election Day 2009. Two surveys released this weekend give Chris Christie (R) an edge over Gov. Jon Corzine (D), with Chris Daggett's (I) support fading.

Public Policy Polling (D)
(994 LVs, 10/31-11/1, +/- 3.1%)
Christie 47 (+5 vs. last poll, 10/23-26)
Corzine 41 (+3)
Daggett 11 (-2)
Undecided 2 (-4)

Monmouth University/Gannett
(1,041 LVs, 10/28-30, +/- 3%)
Christie 43 (+4 vs. last poll, 10/15-18)
Corzine 42 (+3)
Daggett 8 (-6)
Don't Know 5 (-2)

Christie has now retaken a lead in the RCP Average for New Jersey, at +1.0.

NJ Gov Polls: No Game-Changer?

A new Rasmussen poll, the second this week, shows little change in the gubernatorial race.

General Election Matchup
Christie 46 (unch vs. last poll, 10/26)
Corzine 43 (unch)
Daggett 8 (+1)
Und 3 (-1)

Rasmussen notes that Corzine fares better among voters less likely to turn out on Election Day, which is one reason why President Obama is coming back this weekend. "Still, even among supporters of the president, there is some reluctance to embrace Corzine," he adds.

As for Daggett: "While more than 20% of the state's voters have considered voting for Daggett at some point along the way, his actual support has been declining over the past couple of weeks," Rasmussen finds.

Another new poll conducted by Zogby for Stockton College finds Corzine leading 40-39, with Daggett at 14. This is the first statewide survey from Zogby.

The race is now tied in the RCP Average for New Jersey.

Would Corzine Serve A Full Second Term?

This weekend, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) will benefit from yet another visit by President Obama, the third of the campaign and second in two weeks. Vice President Biden has also made multiple visits, during which he has hailed Corzine as a key adviser to the transition team on economic matters.

Given that praise, it raised an interesting question in New Jersey that hadn't really been a factor when the governor seemed a sure loser this fall. If Corzine is re-elected, would he serve out his full term, or would he leave early for a post in the Democratic White House?

"Not a chance," Corzine told RCP last week. Then, he hedged a bit. "I should never say never. But I intend to be here until I'm done with this office."

The governor's office has been a transient post in the two decades since Republican Tom Kean completed two consecutive terms. Democrat Jim Florio was defeated in his bid for a second term in 1993. Republican Christie Whitman resigned during her second term to join the Bush administration as EPA administrator. Her departure, and later the resignation of Democratic Gov. Jim McGreevey, were two in a series of events in which the governor's office changed hands seven times in a five-year span.

Continue reading "Would Corzine Serve A Full Second Term?" »

Gibbs: Election Defeats Would Not Hurt Obama

Press secretary Robert Gibbs took a cautious approach when asked at today's White House briefing what the political repercussions would be for President Obama if Democrats are swept on Tuesday.

"We'll have time to dissect whatever those results are on Tuesday, " he said. "Whatever the results are, I don't think they portend a lot in dealing with the future."

He noted that Democrats won both governor's races in Virginia and New Jersey in 2001, in former President Bush's first year in office. "I don't think anybody thought that when they looked at the election results in 2002, they thought President Bush was significantly hampered by that."

Polls point to a big Republican win in Virginia on Tuesday, while New Jersey's governorship is still a toss up. President Obama campaigns there on Sunday, with stops that will guarantee coverage in both the Philadelphia and New York media markets that reach New Jersey homes.

When asked what he thought the impact would be, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) told RCP last week that a victory "would enhance the credibility of the party."

"What I don't think is going to happen if the opposite would happen, I don't think it hurts them," he added. "People can look at what the polls were in July."

GOP Poll: Obama Visits Backfiring In New Jersey?

A new survey from Neighborhood Research (R) shows that Republican Chris Christie has pulled ahead as voters are breaking late from the undecided column toward the challenger.

General Election Matchup
Christie 42 (+6 vs. last poll, 10/6-8)
Corzine 35 (unch)
Daggett 8 (-3)
Undecided 15 (-3)

The survey of 341 voters determined to be "definite" or "very likely" to show up on Election Day was conducted October 27-29. Among just "definite" voters, Christie leads 44-35, which would show that Corzine needs still to motivate his base to turn out. Neighborhood Research's Rick Shaftan states in his polling memo that a visit by President Obama is not having the intended result.

"Christie's lead grew in each of the three days of the survey and could grow bigger if the Obama visit for Corzine, as we expect, backfires and galvanizes conservative support for Christie," he writes.

Shaftan, who ran the campaign of conservative Steve Lonegan in the GOP primary, adds that the Corzine campaign's attacks portraying Christie as an arch-conservative is also backfiring.

"All the movement has been in Christie's direction and the shift has been most pronounced with conservatives and voters in Northwestern New Jersey, the one section of the state Christie had underperformed," he adds.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (4 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Corzine +1.3)

*Loads of new polls confirm a tight, down-to-the-wire race.

*New York Times interviewed both candidates, who "made no apologies for the ugly tone of the campaign."

*Just how involved is the White House? Very.

*And Obama is on his way back this weekend.

*Bergen County is key, which is why Rudy Giuliani campaigns there with Christie today.

*The Daily Record endorses Christie. The New York Daily News backs Corzine.

*Christie embraced his girth, and urged Corzine to "man up."

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +14.3)

*Republicans are working as if they're behind, despite the polls showing such a large lead for McDonnell.

*Deeds said "polls don't matter" at a tailgate event last night before Virginia Tech lost a heartbreaker to UNC.

*This race is a chance for Republicans to show that Obama's "star is fading."

*Michael Steele says the race is a referendum on Democratic leadership in Virginia.

*It's a stretch to call Tuesday's elections bellwethers -- they're more like preseason games.

*The NJ and VA races are not national referenda.

*A look inside how the two candidates have spent their money.

NJ Gov Poll: Toss Up, With A Wild Card

The latest FDU Public Mind poll (10/22-28, 694 LVs, +/- 4%) finds different results based on whether Chris Daggett, the independent candidate, is included in a three-person horse race or left unmentioned, leaving respondents to either volunteer his name or choose from the major party candidates.

General Election Matchup (Daggett Included)
Christie 41 (+4 from last poll, 9/28-10/5)
Corzine 39 (+1)
Daggett 14 (-3)
Don't Know 3 (-3)

General Election Matchup (Daggett Volunteered)
Corzine 44 (unch)
Christie 43 (unch)
Daggett 6 (+2)
Don't Know 4 (-1)

Corzine leads in the RCP Average by 1.3 percent.

In just a month Daggett's name recognition has gone from 50 percent to 82 percent, but as with other recent surveys, his numbers appear to be slipping. When the name of another independent candidate, Gary Steele, is included, Corzine leads 46-41, with Steele at 3 percent.

Corzine's job approval rating is 37 percent, with 52 percent disapproving. To get a sense of the makeup of Daggett supporters, 0 percent -- that's right, 0 -- say Corzine is doing an "excellent" or "good" job as governor, while 46 percent say he's doing only a fair job and 54 percent say poor.

President Obama's job approval rating is 52 percent in the Garden State, while 37 percent disapprove.

NJ Gov Poll: Daggett Numbers Plunge As Vote Nears

In just a week, SurveyUSA (10/26-28, 640 LVs*, +/- 4%) shows that independent Chris Daggett's support has taken a real hit as voters seem to be settling in on the two major party candidates.

General Election Mathchup
Christie (R) 43 (+2 vs. last poll, 10/19-21)
Corzine (D) 43 (+4)
Daggett (I) 11 (-8)
Undecided 3 (+2)

A very interesting number in the crosstabs which could signal Daggett's true support. Among the 11 percent of this sample which has already voted, 45 percent cast a ballot for Corzine, 37 percent for Christie and only 8 percent for Daggett. It stands to reason that those who may ultimately choose him will wait until the final day to make that decision, or perhaps not vote at all.

Again, Corzine holds a lead in the all-important Springsteen demographic, 50-34 percent. Christie's voters are slightly more enthusiastic about their choice, with 50 percent saying they have no reservations about picking the Republican, while only 43 percent say that about Corzine.

With this result, Corzine jumps back up to +2.0 in the RCP Average of New Jersey.

NJ Gov Polls: A Turnout Race

We're going to see a couple polls a day before Election Day next Tuesday. Two polls out today sponsored by liberal interests show two different results, one with Gov. Jon Corzine comfortably ahead, one with Chris Christie holding on to a small lead. What does that mean? At this point the cliche that turnout will be key to victory is as true as it gets. And, the Daggett factor could swing the race on way or another.

Research 2000/Daily Kos
(10/26-28, 600 LVs, +/- 4%)
Christie 42 (-4 from last poll, 9/28-30)
Corzine 41 (-1)
Daggett 14 (+7)
Undecided 3 (-2)

While this poll shows Daggett movement in the positive direction, another poll finds him slipping a point.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (D)/Democracy Corps
(10/27-28, 604 LVs, +/- 4%)
Corzine 43 (+1 from last poll, 10/20-21)
Christie 38 (-1)
Daggett 12 (-1)
Undecided 7 (+1)

The RCP Average for New Jersey is now Corzine +1.6.

Christie: Corzine "Wusses Out" On Fat Ads

Chris Christie (R) said this morning that some of Gov. Jon Corzine's ads are "silly" and "beneath the office he holds." He also issued a New Jersey-style challenge to his opponent in next week's election relating to the subtle allusions to his personal girth seen in at least one spot.

"If you're going to do it, at least man up and say I'm fat," Christie told Don Imus on Fox Business Network. "Afterwards he wusses out and says, 'Oh no, no, I didn't mean that, I don't know what you're talking about.' Man up -- if you say I'm fat let's go, let's talk about it."

Here's the clip:

Christie jokes with Imus about his weight, saying he'll be a "big, fat winner" on Election Day. Asked how fat he is, he says, "Pretty fat, Don." Asked specifically about his weight, he says: "550 pounds." We think he was joking.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (5 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Corzine +2.0)

*Christie predicted victory yesterday as he kicked off a bus tour of the state.

*Chris Daggett has a new ad, again featuring those Corzine and Christie doubles.

*The indie tried to convince voters wary of casting a third-party vote yesterday on the trail.

*Rothenberg gives his latest take on both NJ and VA races.

*Was Christie's urban strategy a risk worth taking?

*AP reports on the concerns from a recent focus group of indies.

*Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine is in New Jersey today campaigning with Corzine.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +13.4)

*Two more polls found McDonnell up by double digits.

*Karl Rove writes today that GOP victories in either New Jersey or Virginia "will tell Democrats in red states and districts that support for Obama's policies is risky to their political health."

*Mitt Romney hit the stump with McDonnell and the Lt. Gov. and Atty. Gen. nominees, saying they'll "make Virginia again a shining light for the entire nation."

*Rudy Giuliani dropped by the state as well, campaigning on McDonnell's behalf in Fredericksburg alongside 2005 loser Jerry Kilgore.

*Michael Steele thinks Election Day is going to be "sweet."

*Bad sign for Deeds: The University of Richmond paper says "student interest at [U of R] continues to be sparse."

*Deeds swung through college-town Charlottesville, located in his state Senate district.

*Both participated in a Northern Virginia Halloween parade.

*McDonnell critics think he may have put ideology above the law as attorney general.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (6 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Corzine +0.6)

*A new Q poll puts Corzine up 5. He trailed by 1 in the last Q poll two weeks ago.

*The AP looks at how the Phillies-Yankees World Series could impact the race. Chris Christie has raised $11.7 million and spent $8.8 million. Independent Chris Daggett has raised $1.3 million and spent $1.2 million.

*Corzine has spent $23 million of his own money on the race.

*Bill Clinton was again campaigning for Corzine yesterday.

*Christie says Rudy Giuliani and former Govs. Christie Whitman and Tom Kean will be stumping for him in the final days.

*The Gov backtracks somewhat from an alleged attack on Christie's weight.

*Corzine also sells himself to Atlantic City.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +10.8)

*Deeds got a big assist from President Obama.

*But unlike New Jersey, the president won't be back before Election Day.

*Times-Dispatch follows the money.

*Is Deeds hurting the whole Democratic ticket?

*Michael Steele joins Bob McDonnell on the trail later this week.

NJ Gov Poll: Corzine Takes 5-Point Lead

"You could see it coming," Quinnipiac's Maurice Carroll says of the polling outfit's new survey on the New Jersey gubernatorial race today. Gov. Jon Corzine has taken a 5-point lead with one week to go, after trailing Christie in previous surveys all year.

General Election Matchup
Corzine 43 (+3 from last poll, 10/7-12)
Christie 38 (-3)
Daggett 13 (-1)
Undecided 5 (unch)

Corzine now leads the RCP Average of New Jersey by 0.6 percent.

Though the governor has been narrowing the gap for some time, the pollster warns it's still a fluid race. Independent candidate Chris Daggett has "changed it from 'ABC' - Anybody But Corzine - to a real three-way scrap," and "a lot of Daggett's voters say they might change their minds by Election Day," Carroll says.

Among those Daggett supporters, 38 percent say they could change their mind, compared to 19 percent of Corzine backers and 12 percent of Christie's. Daggett's supporters lean Christie on the second-choice question, 43-27 percent, while 18 percent say they wouldn't vote at all.

Christie now actually has a 15-point lead among independent voters, up from a 9-point lead earlier this month. But he has slipped somewhat among Republicans while Corzine has secured his standing among Democrats, perhaps attributable to visits last week by Vice President Biden, former President Clinton and President Obama.

Favorable Ratings
Christie 37 / 42
Corzine 41 / 52
Daggett 21 / 16

Corzine's job approval rating is 39 percent, while 54 percent disapprove. Meanwhile, more voters say Corzine is honest and trustworthy than Christie, with Christie's numbers on that question dropping 5 points in two weeks.

The survey of 1,267 likely voters was conducted October 20-26, with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (7 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Corzine +0.2)
*The three candidates are mounting a final push with one week to go.

*Corzine is pushing for Latino voters, including with Spanish-language ad featuring President Obama.

*Christie leads by 3 in a new Rasmussen poll. He's up 4 in a new PPP poll.

*Bill Clinton is back in the state for two events alongside Corzine -- the second Tuesday in a row he's done two events with the governor.

*Corzine thinks using the word "weight" in an ad was not the best choice.

*Most of Corzine's fundraising has come out of his own pocket.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +11.2)
*A new Washington Post poll found McDonnell leading by 11 points with one week to go.

*Obama is headlining a Deeds rally at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, where Deeds needs to boost turnout.

*The Culpeper Star Exponent breaks down Deeds's legislative record.

*Voting for Deeds doesn't send a message to Richmond and Washington that Virginians want a divided government.

*John McCain says the Va. and N.J. governor's races are "usually exaggerated in their importance" since they're "the only game in town."

*McDonnell has raised more money and spent more money than Deeds.

NJ Gov Poll: Christie +3

Continuing a trend of close polling in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, a new Rasmussen survey finds GOP nominee Chris Christie leading incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D) by 3 points with one week left to go (Oct. 26, 1000 LV, MoE +/- 3%). The poll found independent candidate Chris Daggett losing support as the race crawls to a close.

Christie 46 (+5 vs. last poll, Oct. 20)
Corzine 43 (+4)
Daggett 7 (-4)
Und 4

Corzine now leads by 0.2 of a point in the RCP Average for New Jersey.

Corzine's approval rating as governor still remains low, however, as just 39% approve of the job he's doing. He also trails Christie in favorable rating, as 41% hold a favorable impression of Corzine while 49% feel the same about Christie. More voters trust Christie on taxes, to cut government spending and to crack down on government corruption.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (8 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Corzine +0.1)
*Endorsing Christie on Sunday: Atlantic City Press, Cherry Hill Courier-Post, New York Post, and Asbury Park Press.

*Endorsing Corzine on Sunday: Bergen Record and Trenton Times.

*The GOP is worried about independent candidate Chris Daggett's impact on the race.

*NJ Biz takes a pass on endorsing.

*Daggett refused this morning to pledge not to take a position in the Corzine administration.

*As Middlesex County goes, so goes the election.

*All three candidates agree on the importance of Atlantic City.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +10.9)
*Endorsing McDonnell on Sunday: Richmond Times-Dispatch, Waynesboro News Virginian, Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, Bristol Herald Courier, and Culpeper Star Exponent.

*Endorsing Deeds on Sunday: Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot and Roanoke Times.

*Deeds supporters see Obama surge voters as key to victory.

*McDonnell is counting on the help of Mitt Romney on Wednesday to counter Obama's visit on Tuesday.

*Ex-Wilder adviser/ex-Va. Dem Party Chair Paul Goldman doesn't like the White House's treatment of Deeds.

*Deeds toured 11 black churches in the Hampton Roads area.

*Gov. Tim Kaine spent Sunday trying to ramp up excitement among volunteers.

Obama Making Third N.J. Visit To Campaign For Corzine

President Obama will make a third and final visit to the Garden State next Sunday to boost Gov. Jon Corzine, as Democrats hope to ratchet up enthusiasm in the base in the campaign's final weekend.

Obama will make two stops, one at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden and then at the Prudential Center in Newark. That ensures maximum media coverage from both the Philadelphia and New York television markets and big crowds in two of the state's largest cities. Footage of Wednesday's event with Obama in Hackensack has already been turned into a TV ad for the campaign.

Former President Bill Clinton will also return on Corzine's behalf this Tuesday, with stops in West Orange and Little Falls.

In an interview with RCP this week, Corzine talked about the impact these types of events have.

"You get those people who are your supporters truly energized. You get a higher probability of a big turnout with a lot of this activity that we've had from people coming in," he said.

You can read more from that interview here.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (11 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Corzine +0.1)

*Bloomberg leads with the property tax back-and-forth in last night's radio debate.

*Christie sought to capitalize on the conviction of the former Bergen County Democratic chairman. But Corzine's running mate was one of his biggest foes.

*Former Gov. Tom Kean cut an ad for Christie, criticizing Corzine's negative ads.

*The Inquirer profiles Daggett.

*Both sides are sniping about the other's transparency issues.

*More polls, more deadlock.

*WSJ sees New Jersey as a case study of problems with the major parties.

*Tim Pawlenty, RGA vice chair, said victory is likely in Virginia but called New Jersey a dead heat.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +10.9)

*A brutal, tossed under the bus story in the Post as the White House distances itself from Deeds.

*Obama and Clinton aren't the only big names coming to the Commonwealth -- so are Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Haley Barbour, and football hall-of-famers Bruce Smith and Lou Holtz.

*Deeds surrogates are pushing the education argument for why he's their man.

*Loudoun Times-Mirror does a race overview.

*The RGA has taken yet another awkward post-debate gaggle and turned it into a negative ad.

*McDonnell is up with a negative TV ad on Deeds's "job-killing policies."

*McDonnell's only option in the race was "all-out obfuscation," according to The Nation.

*Deeds is airing a second ad on The Washington Post's endorsement of him -- though this one includes all the negative lines about McDonnell.

New Garden State Polls: Split Decision

Get used to it: barring any major late development, we can probably assume that polling in New Jersey will show the race as close as these new polls out today do.

GQR/Democracy Corps
(604 LVs, 10/21-22, +/- 4.0%)
Corzine 42 (+1 from last poll, 10/6-7)
Christie 39 (+1)
Daggett 13 (-1)
Undecided 6 (-1)

Survey USA
(674 LVs*, 10/19-21, +/- 3.9%)
Christie 41 (+1 from last poll, 10/12-14)
Corzine 39 (unch)
Daggett 19 (+1)
Undecided 1 (-2)

*Includes some who have already voted. Corzine leads 44-39-16 among those who say they have already cast their ballot.

Eagleton Poll Gives Corzine 3-Point Lead; Daggett At 20

A new Rutgers Eagleton poll gives Gov. Jon Corzine (D) a 3-point lead with less than two weeks to go in the New Jersey gubernatorial race. With this survey, Corzine has taken a lead in the RCP Average of polling for the very first time.

General Election Matchup
Corzine 39
Christie 36
Daggett 20
Don't Know 5

Asked for their second choice, 34 percent of Daggett's voters say they would pick Christie, while 28 percent say Corzine and 24 percent say they would not vote at all. Daggett is tied among voters who say they've heard a lot about his property tax plan; but Corzine actually pulls ahead among those who say they've heard nothing about it -- which is a quarter of the electorate.

"Daggett continues to draw fairly evenly from both major party candidates," said Eagleton's Dave Redlawsk. "However, in a close race, it may make a difference that Daggett voters are people who would have been slightly more on Christie's side than on Corzine's in a two-way race. The underlying question is whether current Daggett supporters really will vote for him on Election Day, or whether they will opt for their second choice, one of the major party candidates."

Redlawsk also states: "While Daggett is clearly having an impact on this race, it seems that on the current trajectory, the vote would have to be very close for his candidacy to make the deciding difference. ... It's important to remember, however, that in two recent New Jersey Governor's races (in 1993 and 1997), the victor's margin was only about 1 percent of the vote."

Corzine and Christie are tied amongst men, 38-38, but Corzine has a 6-point advantage among women. His campaign's attacks on Christie over the mammogram issue has become a defining issue in the race

Favorable Ratings
Corzine 40 / 52
Christie 39 / 42
Daggett 31 / 15

Corzine's job approval rating is 29 percent, with 70 percent disapproving.

Voter engagement in the race appears to be lukewarm, with 36 percent saying they are following the election "very closely," and only 38 percent say they've watched or listened to one of the candidate debates. That factor is one reason why Democrats have brought in national surrogates to generate free media attention on New York and Philadelphia television stations that otherwise tend not to cover Garden State politics closely.

The survey of 583 likely voters was conducted October 15-20, with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (12 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +0.4)

*Loads of coverage of the Obama/Corzine rally yesterday is exactly what the campaign was hoping for. Mike was there, too.

*Christie called the Obama visit a sign of Corzine's weakness.

*Bloomberg looks at Corzine's Beltway surrogate strategy, which also now includes Caroline Kennedy.

*A closer look at the Daggett factor, dominating operatives' attention. Wall Street Journal also profiles him.

*A WSJ columnist says Daggett has risen because Christie has flopped.

*The Inquirer profiles Corzine, and the "learning curve" he faced taking office four years ago. The New York Times Magazine also looks at Corzine's bid.

*Answering GOP calls for transparency, Corzine released info on his charitable donations.

*Tonight there is one final debate, on radio, featuring the three candidates.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +10.9)

*Deeds is taking part in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's forum tonight in Hampton; McDonnell will do so tomorrow.

*Another poll found Deeds down by double digits, but Obama is coming Tuesday to Norfolk and is featured in a new TV ad.

*AP calls the president Deeds's "biggest gun."

*McDonnell touted his socially-conservative principles to a crowd of conservatives yesterday.

*New York Times weighs in on Virginia's gun show loophole.

*National Review editor Rich Lowry calls McDonnell a "conservative pragmatist."

*McDonnell is on a "New Jobs, New Virginia" tour.

*Washington Examiner endorses McDonnell.

*Falls Church News-Press endorses Deeds.

Boosting Corzine, Obama Paints Christie As Typical Republican

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- Seeking to build momentum for a Blue State ally, President Obama portrayed Chris Christie a creature of the national GOP as he campaigned for Gov. Jon Corzine's re-election for the second time this year.


Obama acknowledged economic woes that are a key reason why the Democratic incumbent faces a tough battle. But at a boisterous rally in the key battleground of Bergen County tonight he urged voters to keep Corzine at the helm, calling him an "honorable man" who has helped stave off an even larger crisis.

"Listening to Jon's opponent, you'd think that New Jersey was the only state in America that's been swept up in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, which by the way did not start under Jon Corzine's party's watch," Obama said. "This crisis came about because of the same sorts of lax regulation and trickle-down economic theory that the other guy's party has been peddling for years."

Echoing some of his partisan rhetoric of late, Obama continued: "I'm telling you, these folks, they got a lot of nerve. They leave this big mess and suddenly they're complaining about how fast we're cleaning it up."

An estimated 4,000 attended the late afternoon rally on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University, which also included an appearance by Caroline Kennedy. The enthusiasm was high among the partisan crowd, and even the president joined into a chant of "Four more years" at one point.

Continue reading "Boosting Corzine, Obama Paints Christie As Typical Republican" »

Christie: Obama Visit Shows Corzine's Vulnerability

PARAMUS, N.J. -- Though his once-formidable lead has slipped away, Chris Christie (R) called a visit today from President Obama on behalf of Gov. Jon Corzine (D) a sign that his campaign's message is getting through to voters.


"I'm convinced that the Democrats in this state thought I'd be dead and buried now. Instead, they're bringing in the President of the United States," the former U.S. Attorney said in a press availability here this afternoon. "In a state President Obama won by 15 points last year, and where there's 700,000 more Democrats than Republicans, and where he's outspent me over 3-to-1 now, how else would you explain that I'm still in the lead?"

Christie said he welcomed Obama to the state, and said he agrees with him on "a lot of things." But when Air Force One takes off today, "it's not coming back. And if they vote for Jon Corzine, they're stuck with him," he said.

Continue reading "Christie: Obama Visit Shows Corzine's Vulnerability" »

Obama For Christie?

Today, President Obama comes to New Jersey to campaign for Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) re-election campaign. But this morning it is Corzine's Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R), who seeks to use the president's message of change to support his campaign.

In a Web video released this morning, the Christie camp uses sections of Obama campaign speeches to make the case for change in the Garden State. Interspersed with campaign footage are shots reflecting the economic distress in parts of the state. Particularly striking is a segment of Obama's speech that rails against "the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street," a clear reference to Corzine's background as a senator and Goldman Sachs executive.

"New Jerseyans are still fighting for change," reads text at the end of the video.

While Obama campaigns today with Corzine at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Hackensack, Christie will be across town visiting a diner. Earlier, Christie will also hold a "kitchen table conversation" in nearby Paramus.

Rasmussen: New Jersey A True Toss-Up

In its latest survey of the New Jersey governor race, Rasmussen finds that the race has closed to just two points, and that independent Chris Daggett's supporters are increasingly committed to the candidate.

General Election Matchup
Christie 41 (-4 from last poll, 10/14)
Corzine 39 (-2)
Daggett 11 (+2)
Not Sure 8 (+3)

Christie leads by just 0.4 percent in the RCP polling average of New Jersey.

The biggest climber since last week's survey are those undecided voters. Rasmussen says that in that group, 13 percent lean toward Daggett, 7 percent toward Christie, and 3 percent toward Corzine, with the rest likely not to vote at all. The bottom line:

At this point, anybody who says with confidence how this race will turn out is either deluding themselves or attempting to delude someone else. The Democrats clearly have an edge in New Jersey when it comes to turnout, but the wavering Daggett supporters and undecided voters are more likely to head in the Republican direction than to the Democratic incumbent.

With two weeks out, only six points separates the three candidates in terms of favorable ratings.

Favorable Ratings
Christie 47 / 47
Corzine 41 / 57
Daggett 44 / 32

President Obama, who campaigns with Corzine today, has a 53 percent approval rating in the Garden State, a drop of 4 points since last week. That's still 12 points higher than Corzine's, however, at 41 percent; 58 percent disapprove.

The automated telephone survey of 750 likely voters was conducted October 19 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (13 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +0.4)

*Appearing with Corzine, Bill Clinton urged New Jerseyans not to vote out of frustration.

*Obama comes to the rescue today.

*Sen. Frank Lautenberg called for a probe of Christie's alleged politicking with the U.S. Attorney's office.

*Christie wants Corzine to open up his checkbook and live up to promises to be transparent.

*The Star-Ledger editorializes on Corzine's hidden spending.

*The Record says both campaigns are exaggerating claims about the mammogram issue.

*Daggett left a loaded gun in a loaner car.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +10.9)

*No game-changing moments last night in the final debate of the campaign.

*Despite the debate's conducive format, neither candidate struck a major blow.

*Earlier in the day, Bill Clinton said to "never underestimate" Deeds, who beat his guy, Terry McAuliffe, in the June primary.

*A SurveyUSA poll released late yesterday found McDonnell leading by his largest margin ever.

*Deeds is going to need "sleeping giants" and game changing moments to win this thing.

*The Washington Times endorsed McDonnell.

*Does Doug Wilder's non-endorsement really matter for Deeds?

Clinton: "Why In The World Is This A Close Governor's Race?"

wjccorzine.jpgNEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Former President Clinton made a passionate case for Jon Corzine's re-election, urging state voters to consider the governor's record and not cast their vote out of "frustration."

"Why in the world is this a close governor's race?" he asked, somewhat in disbelief.

He then outlined some of Corzine's achievements, saying among other things that New Jersey was the first state to implement an economic recovery plan.

"Why is this a close race?" he then asked again. "There's no governor in the country that you could stand up and read these statistics on. Not another one!"

Continue reading "Clinton: "Why In The World Is This A Close Governor's Race?"" »

Daggett Radio Ad Calls Corzine A "Miserable Failure"

Independent New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Chris Daggett, targeted by Republicans as potentially being worse than Gov. Jon Corzine (D), is airing a new radio ad that calls the incumbent a "miserable failure."

"To change our state we have to change our governor," Daggett says in the one-minute ad. "Four years of Jon Corzine have been a miserable failure. Four more would be a disaster."

The ad focuses on tone of the race in recent weeks, saying "my opponents have denigrated our politics with personal attacks." He's no kinder to Republican Chris Christie than he is to Corzine, saying he "has absolutely no plan on to govern New Jersey or how to fix our problems. His campaign continues to go in one direction: backwards."

The campaign is also filming a new television ad this week, following up on a quirky debut that saw limited airtime last month. Spokesperson Tom Johnson said that the campaign is also counting on continuing free media that Daggett has benefited from since his first debate performance. Daggett is actually canceling appearances before voters to accept more media requests to keep that free media going, Johnson said.

All three candidates are set to participate in one more debate, on WBGO radio this Thursday.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (14 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +0.6)

*A new Monmouth poll has the race tied.

*The NY Times questions whether the U.S. Attorney's office was improperly working to help Christie's campaign.

*A pastor who recently endorsed Corzine got big bucks from the governor last year.

*Biden guaranteed a Corzine win if his voters turn out.

*As Corzine campaigns with Democratic stars, Christie says people are focused on taxes.

*The governor called for budget cuts as revenues came in lower than projected.

*Bobby Jindal raised money for Christie last night.

*A Star-Ledger columnist thinks Christie's urban strategy was a loser from the start.

*Stu Rothenberg still thinks there's a path to victory for Christie.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +9.5)

*McDonnell and Deeds will take part tonight in the final debate before the election, held at Roanoke College. Deeds will appear this morning with Bill Clinton and Terry McAuliffe in Northern Virginia.

*Two new polls find McDonnell leading by 8 and 14 points.

*Deeds is making a final push to awaken the Obama voters who so far are unexcited about him.

*Deeds handlers say it's "game over" if they're able to do that.

*Deeds says he'll be the "chief job recruiter" if elected governor.

*Virginia's First Lady is hitting the road for Deeds today to highlight his "strong record of investing in public education."

*The race is a 'snapshot' of the country as a whole.

*Both candidates are courting absentee voters.

Monmouth Poll Has N.J. Race Tied

A new Monmouth University poll for Gannett New Jersey has the state's gubernatorial race in a dead heat two weeks before voters head to the polls. Once again, it's independent candidate Chris Daggett whose numbers are growing, pulling both major party candidates below the 40 percent line.

General Election Matchup
Christie 39 (-4 from last poll, 9/24-29)
Corzine 39 (-1)
Daggett 14 (+6)
Don't Know 7 (-1)

Christie's lead in the RCP Average was just 0.8 percent through Monday.

Though the independent has gained the most, Monmouth polling director Patrick Murray says he may have hit his ceiling. Meanwhile, there are "warning signs" for the GOP.

"Democrats who flirted with Chris Christie earlier in the year have come back into the fold. It also looks like some GOP voters may have become disenchanted with their white knight. That's not a good sign for the Republican at this late stage of the game," Murray says in the poll release.

One criticism Christie has faced from both opponents is that he hasn't been specific enough about his budget proposals. It bears out somewhat in the numbers, as only 18 percent of voters say Christie has given a "clear" idea of his plans. That's nearly half as many as those who say Corzine has been clear on his plans for a second term. For the first time, voters lean toward Corzine, though by just a point, on who they'd trust most to handle the state budget. Corzine has also pulled to within one point of Christie on who would best handle jobs and the economy.

Most voters -- 72 percent, in fact -- characterize the race as being negative, and it shows as you look at the candidates' favorable ratings. Christie's rating is a net-negative for the first time in Monmouth's polling.

Favorable Rating
Corzine 37 / 51
Christie 40 / 41
Daggett 28 / 15

The telephone survey of 1,004 likely voters was conducted by telephone from October 15 to 18, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.

In Turnout Push, Biden Guarantees Corzine Win

bidencorz.jpgEDISON, N.J. -- In the first of a series of visits from national Democratic surrogates, Vice President Joe Biden urged supporters of Gov. Jon Corzine not to grow complacent as the polls have tightened in New Jersey.

"A lot of people are now thinking this race is over, that Jon's won now," Biden said before a crowd of about a thousand supporters at Middlesex County College. "You and I know that when people start thinking like that, that's a disaster. ... This is just old-fashioned get out the vote now. You get out the vote, I guarantee you Jon's going to win."

The vice president, a colleague of Corzine's in the Senate for five years, focused his remarks here on the impact that the stimulus program has made in, according to him, preventing a recession from growing into a depression. He portrayed the governor as a key adviser and ally in developing the Obama administration's response plan, and contrasted that role to the stated view of Republican candidate Chris Christie that he would have rejected some stimulus dollars. Not doing so would have forced local governments to further raise property taxes, Biden said, touching on an important issue in the coming election.

Continue reading "In Turnout Push, Biden Guarantees Corzine Win" »

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (15 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +0.8)

*Endorsements: Home News Tribune for Chris Christie; Philly Inquirer and New York Times for Jon Corzine.

*Friday's debate: Christie was on the attack; Corzine defended his record; was Daggett the loser?

*Will national Democratic star-power help Corzine this week?

*Walter Shapiro thinks Christie blew a chance to win the race for the GOP.

*Daggett added another hurdle for the Republicans.

*Does Corzine's reticence to boast about himself make for bad politics?

*Republicans are looking for more transparency from Corzine's foundation.

*Restaurateurs back Christie.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +8.8)

*Obama is coming back to campaign with Deeds Oct. 27, and his clout will be tested Nov. 3.

*The Washington Post endorsed R. Creigh Deeds for governor.

*The Newport News Daily Press endorsed Bob McDonnell for governor.

*Dems see a path to victory for Deeds, but it's narrow.

*Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), who faced similar questions in 2006, says McDonnell's 1989 thesis is fair game.

*Deeds is struggling to hold together the Obama voters: blacks, young voters, women and independents.

*It's debatable how telling the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races will be for 2010.

*Terry McAuliffe says Deeds will win by 2 points -- and Jon Corzine will win by 7 in New Jersey.

Corzine: Victories In NJ, VA Could "Enhance" Obama

The Democratic cavalry is descending on New Jersey next week in a major push for Gov. Jon Corzine. Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton and President Obama will all hold rallies with the embattled Democrat on successive days starting Monday, as the party looks to energize supporters for a final 15-day push.

Corzine, speaking to small donors on a conference call with representatives from the Democratic Governors Association, called this support from the party critical as he looks to be the first Democrat re-elected in the state in 32 years. Victories in New Jersey and Virginia would also have national ramifications, he added.

"They will not reflect I think on the success of the president, but they will certainly enhance the president if we are successful," Corzine said on the call. "All elections have local character to them, but it will be an important message back to what is a very, very competitive Republican run, certainly in New Jersey and it sounds like in Virginia."

He cited the statistic that no party that holds the White House has been able to win in New Jersey or Virginia since 1985, and called his situation "ominously parallel" to then-Gov. Jim Florio's in 1993, a year after Clinton's election with a health care debate heating up in Washington.

"We lost that race by 25,000 votes. We are going to do everything possible that we don't have that outcome in 2009," he said.

Continue reading "Corzine: Victories In NJ, VA Could "Enhance" Obama" »

Rasmussen: Christie, Corzine Dip As Daggett Climbs

A new Rasmussen poll, the second in just over a week, shows that the major party candidates are losing ground to independent Chris Daggett as Election Day nears.

General Election Matchup
Christie 45 (-2 from last poll, 10/5)
Corzine 41 (-3)
Daggett 9 (+3)
Not Sure 5 (+2)

There are more to the numbers, however. When voters are asked their first choice, the race is tied -- Christie 38, Corzine 38, and Daggett 16. Rasmussen finds that 57 percent of Daggett's supporters say they could change their minds before election day, accounting for the final numbers.

Voters tend to favor Christie when asked who they trust more on taxes, government spending and corruption.

Interestingly, only a third of voters correctly identified Daggett as the recipient of the Newark Star-Ledger's endorsement this weekend. That reflects to some degree the lack of overall media coverage of the race beyond newspapers; New Jersey has no major television market of its own, and New York and Philadelphia stations tend to give scant coverage to Garden State politics.

Favorable Ratings
Christie 46 / 51
Corzine 43 / 55
Daggett 45 / 27

President Obama, who comes to New Jersey next Wednesday to rally voters for Corzine, has an approval rating of 57 percent. That's 17 points better than Corzine's; 59 percent disapprove of Corzine's job performance. There might be another reason for Obama's visit, Rasmussen surmises:

While Christie's voters are a bit more certain to actually show up and vote at this point, Democrats have traditionally displayed a stronger get-out-the-vote effort on Election Day. Among voters who are certain they will vote and certain of how they will vote, Christie has an eight-point edge, 49% to 41%. That's one reason President Obama and other leading Democrats will be visiting the state in hopes of driving up turnout among Democratic constituencies.

The automated telephone survey of 750 likely voters was conducted October 14, and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (19 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +1.0)

*It's getting "increasingly nasty."

*President Obama to campaign in Hackensack with Gov. Jon Corzine (D).

*Just in time. Corzine needs to re-energize those Obama voters.

*Bad news for the incumbent: unemployment up to 9.8% in New Jersey.

*Chris Christie (R) is still talking about spending.

*Chris Daggett (I) fought back against the RGA attacks, saying it was paid for in part by Christie's brother.

*Is Daggett the New Jersey Ventura?

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +8.8)

*After two tough election cycles, nobody imagined the GOP would be leading with three weeks to go.

*House Minority Leader John Boehner is hosting a fundraiser tonight in D.C. for McDonnell.

*Bet you didn't know about the influence of South Dakota on the Virginia gubernatorial race.

*Virginia isn't reliably red or blue, it's "swing-state purple."

*The state Dem Party chair says getting out the vote is key for a Deeds victory.

*The White House announced yesterday a rally with Corzine, but still no word on Deeds.

RGA: Daggett Worse Than Corzine

We noted yesterday the radio ad that the Republican Governors Association launched in New Jersey targeting independent candidate Chris Daggett. Tomorrow, the RGA brings that attack to television with a 15-second spot arguing that the former Republican would be worse than Gov. Jon Corzine (D), who the organization says has been a failure.

For its part, the DGA is supporting a 527 group behind this ad on the issue of mammogram coverage. A $200,000 buy will keep this spot running in the New York market on TBS, BET, TNT and "women's channels," per a Democratic source.

Obama To Campaign For Corzine Next Week

The Corzine campaign has announced that President Obama will visit the Garden State again on his behalf next week.

Gov. Jon Corzine (D) will welcome Obama on Wednesday, October 21, in the key battleground of Bergen County. The rally will be held at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Hackensack. Doors open at 3 pm.

The day before, Obama is scheduled to be in New York at a fundraiser for the DNC and New York 23rd Congressional District candidate Bill Owens.

More than 17,000 people attended an Obama-Corzine rally in Holmdel on July 16.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (20 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +1.0)

*A new Q poll has it down to 1.

*Christie is facing heat for allegedly spending excessively on travel as the U.S. Attorney.

*Meanwhile, Corzine's office urged state agencies "to orchestrate events showcasing job creation -- even if it is 'a stretch.'"

*Daggett again invoked the '73 Mets in an interview with CBS.

*The RGA is going after Daggett.

*On "Morning Joe" today, Christie said Daggett can't win, and chalked up his shrinking lead to Democrats coming home to Corzine.

*Christie and Daggett debated with an empty chair between them; Corzine skipped a Gannett forum.

*Mario Cuomo campaigned with Corzine last night.

*NewsHour looked at both gubernatorial races.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +8.8)

*A Rasmussen poll out yesterday found McDonnell leading by 7 points.

*Both Deeds and McDonnell say they're the one who will bring the jobs.

*Deeds' "Hope and Opportunity Tour" stop in Southside was actually a tour of his campaign surrogates. A dozen confused supporters showed up in Ringgold to see the state Democratic Party chairman.

*Bob Holsworth reports that the Deeds campaign at least knows who they need to get to the polls Nov. 3 to win.

*UVA's paper reports on confusion and apathy in Charlottesville.

*The candidates are now finger-pointing over the state's move to a private IT system.

Q Poll: Christie +1

There seems to be a growing consensus among pollsters that the New Jersey governor race is a dead heat. A new Quinnipiac poll out this morning also puts Chris Christie's lead at just one.

General Election Matchup
Christie 41 (-2 from last poll, 9/23-28)
Corzine 40 (+1)
Daggett 14 (+2)
Undecided 5 (-1)

Christie's lead in the RCP Average is also now at just 1 percent.

With independent candidate Chris Daggett increasingly seen as a potential spoiler, it's noteworthy that only 39 percent of his supporters say they're mind is made up, compared to 80 percent of Christie voters and 75 percent of Corzine backers. Among all Daggett voters, 40 percent say their second choice is Christie, while 33 percent say Corzine and 13 percent say they would not vote at all.

"Historically, third party candidates fade on election day. Apparently, voters agree," Quinnipiac's Maurice Carrol says in the survey release. "Very few of his backers are committed ... and 77 percent of all voters say he has no chance of winning."

Corzine's favorable rating continues to show improvement, while Christie's unfavorable number again dips slightly. Though other polls have shown him with a better name ID, Quinnipiac finds that 73 percent of voters say they haven't heard enough about Daggett to form a strong opinion.

Favorable Ratings
Christie 38 / 40
Corzine 40 / 53
Daggett 19 / 7

Any Corzine growth in recent weeks has been attributed in part to his attack on Christie over the issue of mammogram coverage. But the Q poll found that only 34 percent of voters though this was a legitimate issue, while 60 percent called it an unfair attack.

Corzine's job approval rating is now at 39 percent, with 56 percent disapproving. Last month the split was 36 / 58.

The survey of 1,264 likely voters was conducted October 7-12, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.

RGA Targets Daggett In Radio Ad

In a sign that Republicans are concerned about the impact Chris Daggett is having on the GOP's chances to win the New Jersey governorship, the RGA is launching a radio ad in the Garden State that targets the independent candidate, saying his tax plan "sounds like the Corzine plan, but worse."

"So what about Chris Daggett? He's been in the news," an announcer says mischievously. A Daggett administration would lead to toll increases and "massive sales tax increases," the spot claims.

"Daggett actually wants to tax you for getting your hair cut, your dry cleaning -- you name it," he continues. "Newspapers say Daggett's property tax plan is pretty much the same plan that Corzine kicked up. And that was a disaster."

The ad also promotes Christie's plan to cut spending and taxes, and "make New Jersey a great place again." Listeners are directed to the RGA's Web site,

Publicly the Christie camp has downplayed Daggett. Christie himself told the Newark Star-Ledger that "his candidacy is one that's an amusement," and said bluntly: "He's not going to be governor. ... I'm not really worried about Chris Daggett in the least." Engaging Daggett in this way would seem to show that privately, Republicans think otherwise.

NJ Gov Poll: Corzine Closes Gap In Another Poll

A new survey from Public Policy Polling (D) has Gov. Jon Corzine (D) closing what was a 9-point gap with Chris Christie to just 1.

General Election Matchup
Christie 40 (-4 from last survey, 9/11-14)
Corzine 39 (+4)
Daggett 13 (unch)
Undecided 8 (+1)

Asked their second choice, 48 percent of the supporters of Chris Daggett, the independent candidate, said they'd back Christie, while 34 percent said Corzine. Eighteen percent weren't sure. That would seem to confirm conventional wisdom which says that his presence is hurting the Republicans chances of reclaiming the governor's office. Only 44 percent of Daggett voters say they're solidly committed to their choice, with 56 percent saying they could change their mind.

Christie's favorable ratings continue to drop, while Corzine's has ticked up. More than half of voters now have an opinion of Daggett as well, though his standing in the polls held steady.

Favorable Ratings
Christie 42 / 44
Corzine 37 / 55
Daggett 30 / 24

On an issue that has been covered quite a bit in the news, 35 percent of voters say Corzine has been making an issue of Christie's weight in the race, while 47 percent said he wasn't. Only 11 percent say his weight is a legitimate campaign issue. Interestingly, 4 percent of voters say it actually makes them more likely to support him, but 19 percent say it's less likely.

In a generic ballot test, New Jersey voters say they were more likely to vote for a Republican in the General Assembly -- 41 percent to 35 percent. Democrats now hold both chambers.

The survey of 571 likely voters was conducted from October 9-12, with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent.

Insurance Issues In New Jersey, Too

As health care legislation faces a key test in Washington today, Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) campaign is again bringing the issue to the airwaves in his re-election bid. A new ad out today charges that Republican Chris Christie is in the pocket of insurance companies, taking their money while proposing policies that would allow them to drop coverage.

The campaign says the spot will air on broadcast and cable across the state.

UPDATE: A second new ad from the Corzine camp ties Christie to the national party, complete with pictures of former Pres. Bush and talk of his abortion stance. See it after the jump.

Continue reading "Insurance Issues In New Jersey, Too" »

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (21 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +1.8)

*This morning, Corzine announced he'd consider raising the gas tax to fund transportation projects.

*New ads from a 527 group called New Jersey Progress hit Christie on the mammogram issue. It's airing in Philly this week; the DGA is among contributors to the fund.

*Daggett and Christie will meet with the Gannett editorial board this morning.

*More columnist love for the indie candidate.

*Asked if he thought Christie was fat, Corzine replies, "Am I bald?"

*Mitt Romney pitched in for Christie last night.

*Christie is focusing on property taxes.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +9.2)

*At last night's televised debate, Deeds hit McDonnell on women's issues, while McDonnell criticized Deeds's willingness to raise taxes.

*Deeds, though, did not mention McDonnell's grad school thesis, which has been a centerpiece of the Deeds campaign's criticism.

*Not surprisingly, they each prefer the policies of the most recent presidents from their own parties.

*Would Terry McAuliffe have been a better general election candidate than Deeds?

*Can Deeds come back to win with just three weeks left to go, The Fix wonders?

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (22 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +1.8)

*This weekend's big headline: the Star-Ledger endorses indie Chris Daggett.

*The state's biggest paper also profiles Daggett, Corzine and Christie.

*Did the Star-Ledger endorse too early?

*Daggett also gets the New York Times treatment today.

*Going back to the base? Christie vows to block gay marriage.

*Christie's weight continues to be a focus. Politico looks at how his campaign masks it; he tells AP he has no health issues because of it. Even folks across the pond can't resist the topic.

*Unions are back in Corzine's corner.

*The Star-Ledger traces donations from "special interests."

*Democrats have a registration advantage over Republicans, though the biggest block is "unaffiliated."

*Corruption has faded as a campaign issue.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +9.2)

*It's the biggest debate day of the campaign, as both candidates will meet for an hour-long event that will be televised in most Virginia markets.

*A new Mason-Dixon poll finds McDonnell (R) up 8 points.

*Deeds (D) dropped a new TV ad -- this one positive and including a tuition assistance plan.

*Washington Post profiled McDonnell for the Sunday paper.

*McDonnell spent Saturday tailgating at a JMU football game in Harrisonburg.

*The candidates get personal on social issues, laying out their thoughts to the Virginian-Pilot.

*Adam Nagourney looks at the Obama factor in New Jersey and Virginia.

Biggest N.J. Newspaper Endorses Independent Daggett

In yet another free media boost for the cash-strapped independent candidate, the Newark Star-Ledger endorses Chris Daggett in its Sunday edition. From the editorial:

The newspaper's decision is less a rejection of Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican Chris Christie than a repudiation of the parties they represent, both of which have forfeited any claim to the trust and confidence of the people of New Jersey. They share responsibility for the state's current plight.

Only by breaking the hold of the Democratic and Republican mandarins on the governor's office and putting a rein on their power will the state have any hope for the kind of change needed to halt its downward economic, political and ethical spiral.

New Jersey needs radical change in Trenton. Neither of the major parties is likely to provide it. Daggett's election would send shock waves through New Jersey's ossified political system and, we believe, provide a start in a new direction.

Daggett hasn't been able to compete with Gov. Jon Corzine (D) or former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) on the airwaves, but did make some headway with a well-reviewed debate performance.

Though some suspect his support may not hold on Election Day, he clocks in at more than 11 percent in RCP's polling average. Newspaper endorsements ain't what they used to be, but the support of the top-circulation paper in the Garden State can only help keep him in the game with three weeks to go.

Partisan Polls Show Christie Leading

Two partisan polls -- one from a Republican firm and one on the Democratic side -- show Chris Christie still leading in the tightening New Jersey gubernatorial race.

Penn, Schoen & Berland (D)
(671 LVs, 9/30-10/5, +/- 3.78%)
Christie 43
Corzine 38
Daggett 16
Other 3

Neighborhood Research (R)
(300 "Definite" and "Very Likely" Voters, 10/6-8, +/- 5.7%)
Christie 36 (-1 from last poll, 9/14-17)
Corzine 35 (+2)
Daggett 11 (+3)
Undecided 18 (-4)

The latter poll finds the race tied among respondents defined as "definite voters," 36-36. Corzine's favorable rating, while still low, has jumped 7 points to 28 percent. Christie's unfavorable rating has jumped five points in the past month, to 31 percent. A generic Republican actually leads a generic Democrat by a wider margin than Christie does Corzine, 42-36.

"Corzine has gotten off the canvas. The remaining question is whether he can close the sale," the polling memo concludes.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (25 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +1.8)

*The lieutenant governor candidates sparred, traded barbs, and all the other usual debate cliches in what is called a "feisty" debate.

*Gov. Corzine was "uncharacteristically blunt" as he explained how he'd close the state's budget deficit.

*A Star-Ledger columnist continues to slam Christie for lacking specifics.

*Two new polls, different results.

*The RGA has helped Christie close the gap in TV advertising.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +8.5)

*A Washington Post poll out yesterday found McDonnell leading by 9 points -- a blow to the Deeds camp.

*Gov. Tim Kaine says Deeds needs to "energize" the 2008 Obama voters.

*McDonnell is spending the day near the North Carolina border with ex-Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.); Deeds is doing a radio interview on D.C.'s WTOP, which most of Northern Virginia can hear.

*A day after the WaPo poll found Deeds's negative advertising may now be detrimental to his chances, the campaign has released two new positive ads, one TV and one radio.

With Christie Spending Limited, RGA To The Rescue

The Nielsen Company has put out a breakdown of the total number of ads purchased by the major party candidates in New Jersey and Virginia. As expected, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has been able to vastly outspend his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, translating to an on-air advantage of 3.5-to-1 since July.

Corzine (D) - 4806
Christie (R) - 1393

Though New Jersey has one of the more generous matching funds programs in the country, Christie has not been able to compete with Corzine's personal wealth. In accepting matching funds, Christie faces a spending cap.

That's where the Republican Governors Association comes in. RCP asked Nielsen to pull the RGA's ad buys during the same period. The data shows that when combined with Christie's spending, the Republicans have actually been on the air with more ads than Corzine.

July: Corzine 1,908 -- Christie/RGA 1,739
August: Corzine 1,306 -- Christie/RGA 2,078
September: Corzine 1,592 -- Christie/RGA 1,402
TOTALS: Corzine 4,806 -- Christie/RGA 5,219

Continue reading "With Christie Spending Limited, RGA To The Rescue" »

SurveyUSA: Christie Still Ahead

SurveyUSA's first look at the New Jersey gubernatorial race has Chris Christie holding on to a narrow lead, with independent candidate Chris Daggett drawing double-digit support.

General Election Matchup
Christie 43
Corzine 40
Daggett 14
Undecided 2

Christie leads 44-32 among independent voters, with Daggett at 19. Among voters who say they chose Barack Obama in 2008, 17 percent are now backing the Christie. Also, 17 percent of Corzine's 2005 voters say they're leaning toward the Republican.

Interestingly, though Christie has professed himself a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, self-described fans of the Boss choose Corzine -- 49 percent to 37 percent.

Christie's lead in the RCP Average is down to 1.8%.

The automated telephone survey of 639 likely voters was conducted October 5-7, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Second Poll Shows Corzine Lead

Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) campaign can now point to a second poll showing the Democrat pulling ahead of Chris Christie (R). A Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll conducted for Democracy Corps gives the incumbent a three-point lead.

General Election Matchup
Corzine 41 (+2 from last poll, 9/22-23)
Christie 38 (-2)
Daggett 14 (+3)
Undecided 7

For the first time, GQR finds that more Democrats say they'll support Corzine than Republicans who say they'll back Christie, showing that the governor has consolidated his base. Christie's fav/unfav split is 30 / 42, a net drop of 10 points. Corzine is viewed favorably by 37 percent of voters, and unfavorably by 46 percent.

The mammogram issue seems to be playing a big role in swaying women voters. From the polling memo:

Christie has lost significant ground with women, especially independent women. He now posts a net favorability rating of -19 with women, down from -7 two weeks ago. Among independent women, the drop is even more pronounced: from -7 two weeks ago to -34 today, with half of independent women giving him an unfavorable rating. This has clearly benefited Corzine in the vote as the governor now leads among women by 14 points (up from 6 points two weeks ago).

The telephone survey was conducted from October 6-7, 2009 among 614 likely voters. The margin of error is +/- 4.0 percent.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (26 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +2.6)

*New York Times weighs in on the whether Chris Christie's (R) weight is a factor in the race.

*Vice President Biden and labor comes to the aid of Gov. Jon Corzine (D).

*Also helping: Corzine's wallet. He's spent $19 million of his own money this year.

*Daggett is having trouble raising money still.

*Tonight, the lieutenant governor candidates will debate.

*Christie vs. Corzine, The Boss vs. Bon Jovi.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +7.3)

*The race is a battle of style and ideology, Jill Lawrence writes.

*Deeds gets a boost from the president's half-million e-mail list in the state.

*Some well-known Dems are calling on Deeds to push a more positive message during the campaign's final weeks, something many rank-and-filers around the state may be hoping for as well.

*McDonnell talks hunting and fishing with the Free Lance-Star.

*UVA's newspaper chronicled Deeds' event at the school yesterday.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (27 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +2.6)
*Rasmussen has Christie's lead down to 3.

*Christie was defensive yesterday, responding to charges he lacks specifics.

*The Republican promised to restore property tax rebates, but said other cuts will come when the economy improves.

*Big donations, some barred through state campaign accounts, are being funneled through the DGA and RGA.

*A big environmental endorsement for Christie means two green groups have now snubbed Corzine.

*Vice President Biden is making his second trip to New Jersey for Corzine.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +7.3)

*Bad sign for Deeds? Wall Street Journal reports the White House is stepping back from the race.

*Still, VP Biden is coming to help Deeds raise money. John McCain will stump with McDonnell this month as well.

*Deeds said yesterday that Washington is making it harder for him to win.

*At a forum yesterday, Deeds and McDonnell showed that they actually share some common ground.

*Deeds did GOTV work in the college town of Harrisonburg.

Rasmussen: Christie Lead Down To 3

In the first poll conducted entirely after Friday's debate, Rasmussen shows that Chris Christie (R) still leads in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, but that his lead has shrunk to three points, within the margin of error.

General Election Matchup
Christie 47 (-1 from last poll, 9/21)
Corzine 44 (+3)
Daggett 6 (unch)
Don't Know 3 (-2)

Corzine's 44 percent showing is his highest in any poll this year. Christie's lead in the RCP average was at 2.5.

In an interesting signal of how the race might break in the final four weeks, Rasmussen finds that Christie holds a 5-point lead among those who are certain of their choice and won't change their mind. But among the one-third of the electorate who say they are undecided or could change their mind, Daggett is their top choice with 27 percent, followed by Corzine at 24 percent and Christie at 22 percent.

"At the moment, Christie's voters are a bit more certain to actually show up and vote. However, in New Jersey, Democrats have traditionally displayed a stronger ground game to get-out-the-vote," the Rasmussen release states.

The one main jump for Daggett since the debate has been in his favorable rating. His rating in the last Rasmussen poll was 28 / 27, but he's seen a big spike on the positive side.

Favorable Ratings
Christie 46 / 50
Corzine 45 / 52
Daggett 44 / 27

The automated telephone survey of 750 likely voters was conducted October 5, and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (28 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +2.5)

*Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has a lead for the first time since January.

*On "Morning Joe" today, Corzine called Obama a "clear, unadulterated plus" in his bid.

*Chris Christie fights back in a TV ad, and says "exactly" what he'll do. Democrats say he still lacks specifics.

*Today, Christie will accept the endorsement of the New Jersey Environmental Foundation.

*The Republican is sticking to his strategy, while arguing that Chris Daggett (I) won't be a factor.

*Daggett has seen a "modest" fundraising boost since his debate performance.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +7.3)

*Both candidates are participating in a forum this morning in Loudoun County, an essential exurb for both parties. The Washington Post is live-blogging the event.

*Both McDonnell and Deeds are targeting "vote-rich" Northern Virginia.

*Sheila Johnson apologizes for mocking Deeds' halting speaking style -- a video of which was circulated by the Deeds camp.

*By most accounts, this race is getting nasty.

*USA Today sums up the race as a referendum on Pres. Obama.

*McDonnell pledges to not raise taxes for transportation funding.

FDU Poll: Corzine Claims First Lead Since January

After trailing in the race in every poll since January, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) holds a lead in a major public poll. The FDU/Public Mind survey gives him a one-point lead over Republican Chris Christie (R), with independent Chris Daggett now drawing significant support.

General Election Matchup
Corzine 38
Christie 37
Daggett 17
Don't Know 6

Christie's lead in the RCP Average is down to 2.5.

In FDU's last survey in early September, Daggett was not included in the list, but 1 percent volunteered his name. In this month's survey, Daggett was volunteered by 4 percent in a survey in which his name was not included. But Corzine led that head-to-head as well, 44-43.

A cautionary vote, however. When the name of another independent candidate -- Gary Steele -- was included instead of Daggett's, even he drew double-digit support. That would seem to suggest that Daggett's pool of support includes many casual voters unhappy with the major party options, and who may ultimately not vote at all.

Debate Impact

The first televised debate occurred during the polling sample. Of the pool of respondents polled from Friday on, only 24 percent say they watched. Of that group, 14 percent of voters say Daggett won, followed by 12 percent who say Corzine, and just 4 percent say Christie. Three-in-five voters couldn't say. The real impact may be in boosting the independent's visibility -- only a third of voters say they had heard of him in the September survey; now, half of voters did.

Voters are increasingly convinced Corzine will win, with 49 percent now saying they expect that result -- up from 45 percent in September. Only 38 percent say they approve of Corzine's job performance, though that's a slight improvement from last month. His favorable rating jumped 6 points while his unfavorable number held stead. Christie's favorable number dropped 3 points, while his unfavorable rating climbed 7 points.

Favorable Ratings
Corzine 37 / 54
Christie 35 / 42
Daggett 16 / 7

The telephone poll of 667 likely voters was conducted from September 28-October 5, and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (29 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +3.8)

*A Wall Street resume just ain't what it used to be.

*The debate put the national health care discussion into local focus.

*Dan Balz said the debate exposed weaknesses for Corzine and Christie.

*AP profiles Corzine and Christie.

*Rothenberg says don't buy the Corzine surge yet.

*Daggett's plans get more attention.
*J-Mart says national Democrats are more optimistic about New Jersey, less about Virginia.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +7.2)

*Today On the Trail: Creigh Deeds (D) will campaign in Arlington alongside Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and one of his Democratic primary rivals, Brian Moran. Bob McDonnell (R) will talk business in Charlottesville, then tour the Richmond City Jail.

*Washington Post profiled Deeds yesterday, with his stance on gay marriage as the lede.

*Tim Kaine's DNC is sending an additional $1M to the Deeds campaign.

*McDonnell launched a new TV ad on transportation yesterday -- it ran during the Redskins game, which was likely on in a majority of NoVa homes.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (32 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +3.8)

*AP, New York Times, Newark Star-Ledger discuss last night's debate.

*Daggett made a splash.

*Joe Biden is heading to Atlantic City to speak at the AFL-CIO with Corzine.

*A tough editorial from the Wall Street Journal about Christie's campaign.

*AP traces the road candidates took to this point.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +7.2)

*McDonnell and Co. are outspending Deeds and Co. two-to-one in advertising dollars.

*Deeds picked up endorsements from Sierra Club and LCV yesterday, while McDonnell got the backing of a high-tech group.

*Both want more degrees awarded at state universities, but neither specified how to raise the money to do it.

*In a pitch to sportsmen, Deeds proposes lifting the Sunday ban on hunting.

*Both candidates are courting the sizable military vote.

Daggett's Debate Splash

Few independent candidates have qualified for matching funds in a New Jersey gubernatorial race. None has ever gotten more than 5 percent of the vote in an election. But after a breakthrough performance in Thursday's first televised debate, Chris Daggett may have the major party nominees rethinking their strategy heading into the final 30 days of the race.

That may be more true for Republican Chris Christie than the incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine. The very first question had Christie on the defensive and facing a tag-team assault from his rivals. NJN's Michael Aron asked Christie how he could promise to cut taxes and surcharges while spending more on education and transportation.

Consider Corzine's first statement in the debate, when responding to Christie's answer. "Let me first of all compliment Mr. Daggett. He has a plan," he said, calling Christie's promises a "fantasy." Daggett was next. "I agree that there's been no plan put forward by Mr. Christie," he said. By the end of the debate, both major party nominees had gone out of their way to state where they agreed with Daggett.

It wasn't just policy. Daggett also showed some superiority in style. While Corzine and Christie had canned responses ready for the anticipated attacks, Daggett seemed better prepared with TV-friendly soundbites, and was the only participant to draw much reaction from the studio audience. Amid a prickly conflict on taxes between the Democrat and the Republican, Daggett deadpanned: "I'm getting squeezed here in the middle." That positioning also played to his advantage; playing to political convention, viewers saw Corzine on the left, Christie on the right, and Daggett smack in the center.

But what may have been the most stinging line came when he criticized Christie's lack of specificity. "It's easy to criticize when you have no plan of your own. The tooth fairy's not going to solve this problem."

Continue reading "Daggett's Debate Splash" »

Corzine Makes His Case

After a summer of tough negative ads, and a recent series of contrast ads, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) is up with a new, one-minute positive spot in which he makes his case to voters for a new four year term.

Corzine says he's taken on more tough issues "in the toughest environment" since the Great Depression, and touts administration accomplishments on the budget, health care and the environment.

"But there's more to do. It's a work in progress," he says. "I've learned a lot. I've done a lot. And I think we can do a lot more."

Also today, the Republican Governors Association launches a new 15-second ad that recalls a line form Corzine's inaugural address, "Hold me accountable." It then cites a the economic problems and high property taxes in New Jersey, closing with their verdict of Corzine's term: "Tax, waste, debt, failure."

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (33 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +5.0)

*Yet another poll shows Corzine closing the gap.

*The closing contest could make for "interesting theater" tonight.

*Daggett says he's outflanked Christie on taxes.

*GOP sources want Christie to be more specific on his plan.

*Corzine stressed Obama support as he wooed African Americans.

*The ad wars go on.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +7.2)

*A Rasmussen poll out yesterday found McDonnell leading by 9 points -- the second poll in a row to show McDonnell's lead growing.

*Gov. Tim Kaine thinks this is a tougher and more negative race than his own four years ago.

*Meanwhile, McDonnell was criticizing Kaine for his transportation plan and role as DNC chairman.

*The candidates will speak separately today at a higher education summit.

*Will Doug Wilder's non-endorsement make a difference in this race?

*Perhaps not.

Debate Preview, With A Twist

Chris Daggett, the independent candidate in New Jersey's gubernatorial race, has released another offbeat video featuring stand-ins for his major-party rivals in advance of tomorrow's first debate. It's a bit long, but has some funny moments parodying Republican Chris Christie and Democrat Jon Corzine. Daggett again plays himself, as he did in a televised ad released earlier this month.

Highlights: "Corzine" begs New Jerseyans to back him again, saying, "you complete me." He also says the race is really about money, and kicks back and reads a copy of New York magazine featuring former Gov. Eliot Spitzer. "Christie"'s main pitch is that he's "not Jon Corzine" and "has never been Jon Corzine." He promises specifics will come after the election, steals some of Daggett's independent rhetoric, and appears to doze off at one point.

The real candidates, including Daggett, will meet tomorrow night at NJN's studio in Trenton for the first of two debates being organized by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. A second debate on New York and Philadelphia Fox-owned stations will air in two weeks. Christie and Daggett have agreed to at least one more radio debate, but Corzine has not.

Ad Wars In New Jersey

Last week, Chris Christie launched this ad, calling Gov. Jon Corzine (D) "deceitful" for his campaign's attacks about whether Christie's health care plan would cover mammograms.

Today, as a poll shows that this and other attacks have been successful in driving Christie's negatives higher, the Corzine camp responds to Christie's response, and calls him "completely deceitful."

Christie's ad had cited a newspaper article saying that Corzine's attacks "skew the truth," but Corzine ad cites another report saying that it "happens to be true," and refers to the Republican's own Web site.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (34 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +5.0)

*Corzine is closing the gap, with a Q-poll showing a 4-point race.

*Chris Daggett rolled out a plan to cut property taxes by 25 percent.

*The campaigns are zeroing in on issue attacks, downplaying personal attacks.

*Christie is a HUGE fan of the Boss.

*Sen. Bob Menendez (D) seemed hopeful, but not overly optimistic about Corzine's chances.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +5.8)

*A SurveyUSA poll released last night found McDonnell leading by 14 points, a far cry from other recent polls -- including another yesterday from PPP that had the GOP nominee up 5 points.

*Washington Biz Journal breaks down the candidates' positions on transportation.

*Bill Pascoe thinks Deeds got an endorsement yesterday from the wrong former governor.

*Roanoke Times reports that Deeds was happy to get Linwood Holton's endorsement anyway.

*Deeds will open a new Democratic campaign office in Falls Church tonight, alongside former primary rival Brian Moran.

Q Poll: Corzine Closing The Gap

A new Quinnipiac poll of the New Jersey gubernatorial race seems to show a September surge of sorts for Gov. Jon Corzine (D).

General Election Matchup
Christie 43 (-4 from last poll, 9/1)
Corzine 39 (+2)
Daggett 12 (+3)
Undecided 6 (unch)

The poll brings Chris Christie's (R) lead in the RCP Average down to 5 points, the lowest in our tracking. One potential reason why: a sharp spike in Christie's unfavorable numbers -- from 30 percent earlier this month, to 38 percent in today's survey. His unfavorable rating has nearly doubled since July, while Corzine's has held steady.

Favorable Ratings
Christie 38 / 38
Corzine 34 / 56
Daggett 11 / 3

Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, finds that at this stage, independent Chris Daggett's numbers do "matter," with him now above double digits. Christie leads among independent likely voters by a margin of 45-32, with Daggett getting 16 percent.

Corzine's job approval rating is now at 36 percent, with 58 percent disapproving. President Obama's approval rating improved to 56 percent from 51 percent earlier this month; 39 percent disapprove.

The survey of 1,188 likely voters was conducted September 23-28, with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent points.

Menendez Hopeful Of Corzine Turnaround

While briefing reporters today about the landscape for Senate races in 2010, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez (D) was asked about the election this fall in his home state, where Gov. Jon Corzine (D) faces an uphill climb in his re-election bid. His answer was telling.

"I have enough on my plate," he joked.

Menendez, who was appointed to the Senate by Corzine after he resigned to become governor after the 2005 election, acknowledged Corzine's vulnerabilities.

"That's a race that is focused on a lot of state issues, focused on a lot of challenges that the governor has faced trying to make tough choices on fiscal, structural issues that weren't popular but were incredibly important," he said.

Though he said the race focused on state issues, Menendez did lump Corzine's rival, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, with the national GOP in saying that he is "basically no on everything." Corzine, meanwhile, "has tackled the tough issues."

"He'll get the credit at the end of the day," Menendez said.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (35 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +6.6)

*Christie fought back on women's issues yesterday.

*A new mailer from the Corzine camp targets seniors.

*Newark Mayor Corey Booker calls Corzine "just the worst communicator." (He meant it in a good way).

*Christie has accepted another radio debate invitation.

*WSJ calls the '09 races Obama vs. Bush, the Sequel.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +4.4)

*Deeds is campaigning at an Arlington Metro stop this morning; also expected to appear to offer his endorsement is former GOP governor Linwood Holton -- Gov. Tim Kaine's father-in-law.

*A new Deeds TV ad airing around the state features ex-Gov./Sen. Mark Warner saying Deeds would continue his pro-business legacy.

*McDonnell got some fundraising help yesterday from Newt Gingrich and Bobby Jindal. Next week, Creigh Deeds will head to Maryland for a monetary boost from Gov. Martin O'Malley.

*A Culpepper columnist writes that "the Deeds' campaign deceits are adding up."

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (36 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +6.6)
*Al Gore played the Bush card as he fired up New Jersey Democrats this weekend.

*Corzine launched another "hug and slug" ad this weekend, pumping his own record on education and then slamming Christie's plans.

*The Star-Ledger notes just how much Corzine is spending.

*With that cash advantage, Walter Shapiro writes that Christie could still be considered the underdog.

*The LG candidates are still sorting out their roles.

*Gannet profiles independent candidate Chris Daggett.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +4.4)

*Creigh Deeds sees the brighter side of a rain-filled weekend

*The economy has supplanted transportation as the top issue of the campaign

*McDonnell appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace

*To increase turnout, college students may now use their dorm address on voter registration forms

*Deeds pledges to continue state's fiscal conservatism

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (39 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +6.6)

*While David Paterson is being urged to quit, Team Obama fully backs Corzine.

*The race is personal, even by Jersey standards.

*AP looks at the race for independent voters.

*Corzine today will receive fire and police union endorsements.

*Al Gore is headlining the New Jersey Democrats' dinner this weekend.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +4.4)

*Former Gov. Doug Wilder said he will not endorse Creigh Deeds.

*A new poll finds McDonnell up just 4 points.

*A T-D editorial says Wilder's non-endorsement of Deeds "may prove decisive."

*A Roanoke Times editorial says Deeds is finally on the right track with a transportation plan that "could work."

*Where the candidates stand on the issues.

*A Virginia teachers union is coming after McDonnell.

NJ Gov Polls: Corzine Closing, Or Tied

Slowly but surely, the New Jersey governor contest is tightening. Just how much depends on which poll you trust -- and two new surveys from partisan outlets give each side reason for optimism.

A Strategic Vision (R) survey, the first in two months, shows that Christie has dipped under 50 percent, but still holds an 8-point lead. A Democracy Corps (D) survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research has the race tied -- the first survey to show that result among likely voters.

The RCP Average for the race, prior to the inclusion of the Democracy Corps result, was Christie +7.

Strategic Vision
Christie 46 (-7 from last poll, 7/17-19)
Corzine 38 (unch)
Daggett 8 (+3)
Undecided 8 (+4)

GQR/Democracy Corps (D)
Christie 40 (-1 from last poll, 9/8-9)
Corzine 39 (+1)
Daggett 11 (+1)

Strategic Vision's telephone survey of 800 likely voters was conducted September 18-20, with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent. GQR's telephone survey of 601 likely voters was conducted from September 22-23, and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (40 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +7)

*Chris Christie (R) launched a response ad on the issue of mammograms.

*Christie leads by 8 in the latest Strategic Vision poll.

*Now Christie has an investment to defend, in a real estate company he once investigated as U.S. attorney.

*Well, it is New Jersey: Christie acknowledged a family link with a mobster.

*The RNC will spend $3.3 million in New Jersey.

*Corzine will raise money in Beverly Hills next week.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +4.5)

*McDonnell is in Richmond this morning for a "major Virginia organization" endorsement. The two candidates then meet in Virginia Beach for a 1 p.m. forum.

*Doug Heye writes that the Washington Post's coverage of the race is "a replay of the 2006 Virginia Senate campaign."

*Deeds is touting Virginia's fourth straight "Best State for Business" accolade by Forbes.

*Both candidates have now met with Doug Wilder, whose endorsement is sought in every statewide race by both parties.

Corzine Ad: Christie "Threw His Weight Around"

When a previous ad contained some not-so-flattering images of the rotund former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R), some speculated that Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) camp was playing the weight card. Now, there can be no doubt.

A tough new ad from the governor's re-election campaign includes the greatest hits of Christie's August woes, reports of unticketed driving infractions, and an unreported loan to a subordinate, where Chrisitie did not pay taxes on interest payments. The ad then alleges that Christie "threw his weight around" and "got off easy."

It dovetails with their message that Christie has "one set of rules for himself, another for everyone else." The full script is after the jump.

Continue reading "Corzine Ad: Christie "Threw His Weight Around"" »

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (41 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +6.7)

*Christie leads by 7 in a new Rasmussen poll, with debates looming.

*The Republican called Corzine's investment in a hedge fund with ties to casino license holders a "colossal error in judgment."

*It's Obama/Corzine on at least one billboard.

*Rep. Rob Andrews (D) thinks the health care debate helps Corzine.

*Human Events says Corzine is in "disarray."

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +4.5)

*Deeds lays out his transportation plan in a Washington Post op-ed after taking heat from McDonnell for not having a plan. At a debate last week he was unclear whether he would be willing to raise taxes, though it's clear in the op-ed: "I'll sign a bipartisan bill with a dedicated funding mechanism for transportation -- even if it includes new taxes."

*Both candidates were courting the African American vote last night at Virginia Union University in Richmond.

*After hosting a debate last week, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce is set to endorse McDonnell.

*Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and former state Sen. John Chichester (R) defended the 2004 tax package Warner negotiated and pushed through the Legislature with bipartisan support. McDonnell did not vote for it when he was in the General Assembly, and has criticized it on the campaign trail.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (42 Days)

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +4.5)

*Creigh Deeds (D) and Bob McDonnell (R) will meet twice today, as they both address a conference in Williamsburg then appear at a forum tonight in Richmond. The McDonnell camp released a statement this morning stating that the Deeds camp requested the candidates appear separately tonight.

*Deeds released three new TV ads yesterday, which NBC News reports is the "first time" he's aired "a new TV ad explicitly targeting Bob McDonnell's (R) controversial graduate thesis."

*The ads are getting headlines across the state, including the Charlottesville Daily Progress: "Deeds Goes On Offensive As Election Draws Closer."

*Roanoke Times notes that the new ads are a change from just a couple months ago, when Deeds and McDonnell "generally agreed that social issues would not weigh heavily in the campaign."

*The Post reported yesterday that Obama pitched Deeds to the most sought after endorser in statewide campaigns: former Gov. Doug Wilder.

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +7.1)

*Jon Corzine is still defending an investment with a firm that holds casino licenses.

*Independent candidate Chris Daggett lost his court challenge to over ballot placement.

*The Christie camp has some fun with a Corzine gaffe.

*A Corzine mailer promises better days are coming.

*The NFIB endorses Chris Christie.

*Is the GOP dialing back anti-corruption talk?

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (43 Days)

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell (R) +4.5)

*A new Washington Post poll found McDonnell's lead cut to 4 points, down from 15 last month.

*A result of the Post poll is that every headline says Deeds is gaining on McDonnell, providing a potential momentum shift for Deeds.

*McDonnell tailgated yesterday at the Washington Redskins home opener. His wife, Maureen, performed during the halftime show as part of the Redskins "Cheerleader Alumni" program. (Kyle was there as well, but did not spot either McDonnell.)

*Virginia Education Association's Robley Jones knocks the McDonnell education plan.

*McDonnell is getting help (again) from Mitt Romney, as the former Massachusetts governor ends a busy weekend in D.C. by raising an expected $100k at a fundraiser held at the American Gas Association on the Hill.

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +7.1)
*He can't absorb too many more blows. Now, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) is defending an investment in a firm that has interests in casinos in the state.

*Corzine said Sunday the "facts are clear," as he defended the investment.

*Corzine's spokesperson said the Attorney General already cleared it.

*At the NAACP convention, Christie said he's the best candidate on crime and education.

*This will be the first state election with a vote-by-mail option.

*Christie leads 37-30 in southern New Jersey, per a Zogby poll.

Countdown '09: New Jersey and Virginia (46 Days)

NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +7.1)
* Is Obama coming back to New Jersey? Maybe in October, the Star-Ledger hears.

* Al Gore will rally New Jersey Democrats next Friday.

* A new survey from a Republican pollster finds Christie's lead ticking up.

* Corzine launched another contrast ad on health care issues.

* The RGA launched another "failure" spot.

* Christie put out a new Web video about the unemployment rate, and a questionable Corzine remark.

* Christie's reaching out to African-Americans.

VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +6.5)
* Kyle's final wrap up on yesterday's debate.

* A Kos poll finds McDonnell up 7 points.

* The candidates talked the economy in Roanoke.

* Fred Barnes looks at the potential GOP comeback.

* NPR also looks at the race.

* Politico, WJLA, Google and YouTube will sponsor a debate in October.

GOP Pollster Finds N.J. Race Near Tipping Point

The Republican pollster Neighborhood Research again finds a closer gubernatorial race in New Jersey than other surveys have found, but the internals indicate that Gov. Jon Corzine (D) is slipping as election day draws nearer.

General Election Matchup
Christie 37 (unch from last poll, 8/21)
Corzine 33 (-2)
Daggett 8 (+2)
Undecided 22

Among so-called "definite voters," Christie's lead stretches to 7 points, 40-33, with 7 percent for Daggett and 20 percent undecided.

"While the numbers indicate little movement in the ballot test (although what movement exists is towards Christie), there is much more under the surface," pollster Rick Shaftan writes in the polling memo. "Voters are starting to tune out Governor Corzine and with negatives close to 50%, the Christie message of 'how can I do any worse' is starting to resonate with voters."

The former U.S. attorney's favorable numbers have jumped 9 points, from a 19/26 split to a positive 28/26 split. Corzine's favorable number remains low at 21 percent, while his unfavorables are up 2 points, to 48 percent.

"Christie's turned the corner and Corzine has seven days to stop what is going to become an avalanche," pollster Rick Shaftan told RCP today. Shaftan ran the campaign of Christie's primary challenger, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R).

You can read more of Shaftan's analysis, including an interesting take on the Obama factor, after the jump.

Continue reading "GOP Pollster Finds N.J. Race Near Tipping Point" »

Countdown '09: 47 Days

**VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +6.5)
*A new poll finds McDonnell leading by just 2 points, the smallest margin since mid-June.
*Deeds and McDonnell faced off in Tysons Corner, in the second of four debates.
*The Times-Dispatch called it "testy," which it was.
*Washington Post was live-blogging, including the pre-debate madness in the press room.
*McDonnell released a new TV ad on transportation, which he focused on in the debate.

** NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christie +7.1)
* A switcheroo probably won't work for Democrats.
* Christie touted the endorsement of nine Democrats from the Elizabeth Board of Education.
* Corzine connects the dots in a tough new ad -- but it's online only (for now).
* The governor will skip a radio debate on 101.5 FM -- the first snub in 20 years for a NJ candidate.
* Both candidates will speak to firefighters tomorrow.
* Christie struck a different tone on how he'd deal with a Democratic legislature.

Switcheroo II? Replacement Dems Don't Poll Better Vs. Christie

More numbers trickling out of Public Policy Polling (D) from New Jersey. Today, the firm releases results of potential matchups in the gubernatorial race if Gov. Jon Corzine (D) were replaced as the Democratic nominee. Newark Mayor Corey Booker (D) and U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D) fare no better against Chris Christie (R) in the unlikely scenario Democrats did dump their standard bearer, much as they did in the 2002 Senate race.

Here are the outcomes, with the baseline being the actual horserace:

Christie 41 - Booker 33 - Daggett 13
Christie 43 - Pallone 23 - Daggett 15
Christie 44 - Corzine 35 - Daggett 13

Booker is the better known figure of the two potential replacements, with a fav/unfav split of 41/20. Pallone's split was 14/25. There's been no suggestion that Corzine would drop out of the race with less than 50 days left, however. Still, PPP suggests Booker's numbers are "pretty darn impressive" and could be a potential statewide nominee for the party in future elections. Booker took office as Newark mayor in 2006. The firm also says Booker's race would not be a major issue, as he is viewed more favorably among white voters (40 percent) than Corzine (25 percent) or President Obama (37 percent).

The automated telephone survey of 500 voters was conducted from September 11-14, and had a margin of error of +/-4.5 percent. Christie now leads by 7.2 points in the RCP Average.

Countdown '09: 48 Days

** NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christe +7.1)
* New Jersey's unemployment rate jumped from 9.3 to 9.7 -- never good news for an incumbent.
* This wasn't announced: Jeb Bush attended a Christie fundraiser tonight.
* Corzine brings up health care, telling the story of his son's heart surgery.
* Did Christie borrow Obama's slogan?
* Obama was endorsed by Planned Parenthood.
* The Star-Ledger's Moran is less than enthused with the choices.

** VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +8.2)
* Tomorrow is the debate every Virginia candidate dreads.
* The Times-Dispatch has the pre-debate spin.
* Are Democrats tossing the Bush playbook?
* The AP nationalizes the New Jersey and Virginia races.
* The Post looks at union money being spent on the race.
* AP looks at what's always a big issue: transportation.

Countdown '09: 49 Days

** NEW JERSEY (RCP Average: Christe +7.1)
* A new PPP (D) poll showed Christie up by 9, with Daggett pulling some Democratic support from Corzine.
* Wally Edge reports that PPP is also asking voters if they'd prefer a different Democrat on the ballot.
* The DNC is hyping the fact that Corzine leads among registered voters in the Monmouth poll.
* But Amy Walter points out why the likely voter number is a better predictor.
* Corzine announced a new job incentives program.
* Christie called it a "Band-Aid on a hemorrhage."
* Hotline looks at national money in the state.
* AP looks at the candidates' platforms on immigration.

** VIRGINIA (RCP Average: McDonnell +10.2)
* A new poll just out from Clarus Research Group shows McDonnell up 42-37.
* Kyle rounds up the fundraising numbers from McDonnell and Deeds.
* The RNC has committed to spend $7 million on the race.
* The AFL-CIO is paying for a field staffer in the state.
*Downballot, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor outraised the incumbent Republican.
* Both candidates talked budget issues at a debate today.

Corzine Stuck In The 30s, Losing Dems To Daggett

A late August bounce that Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) campaign was counting on has failed to materialize, as yet another poll shows him still well behind. Public Policy Polling's (D) latest survey does show some slippage by Chris Christie (R) after some tough news cycles, and the impact of independent candidate Chris Daggett is unclear.

General Election Matchup
Christie 44 (-6 from last survey, 7/28)
Corzine 35 (-1)
Daggett 13 (not included in last survey)
Undecided 7 (-7)

Breaking down the numbers, PPP finds that 18 percent of voters who chose Corzine in 2005 now back Christie, while another 13 percent have shifted to Daggett. Christie has a stronger base among those who backed Doug Forrester (R) in 2005 -- 79 percent are sticking with the Republican column, while 13 percent say they'll now back Daggett.

Daggett voters were asked who their second choice was: 48 percent said Christie, 32 percent said Corzine, which would appear to show his candidacy is hurting Christie the most. But, the poll also finds that Daggett is getting 15 percent of the overall pool of Democratic votes, compared to 7 percent of Republican votes and 16 percent of independent voters. He's still relatively unknown to about three-fifths of voters.

Fav/Unfav Ratings
Christie 45 / 41
Corzine 32 / 60
Daggett 21 / 16

"Hard attacks on Christie haven't closed the gap enough and the presence of Daggett in the race is giving disaffected Democrats an outlet to cast a protest vote," PPP's Dean Debnam says in a release.

The automated telephone survey of 500 voters was conducted from September 11-14, and had a margin of error of +/-4.5 percent. Christie now leads by 7.2 points in the RCP Average.

Countdown '09: 50 Days

With 50 days left until gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, today we start a daily wrap up of news from both contests.

RCP Average, Christie + 6.8
* The Christie camp launched a new interactive Web site to collect voter feedback.
* While the Corzine camp picked up the backing of Latinos.
* The governor also targeted Christie's driving infractions during a speech in Atlantic City.
* Cillizza looks at a possible Corzine comeback.
* The Corzine camp thinks it has a September surge.
* But Monmouth showed Christie still ahead with likely voters.
* And Public Policy Polling finds an enthusiasm gap among Democrats for Corzine.
* Sen. Bob Menendez (D) jumped on a comment from Christie's running mate about the safety of Newark.

RCP Average: McDonnell +10.2
* Bob McDonnell (R) was endorsed by the NRA today. The NRA backed Creigh Deeds (D) in the '05 AG race.
* Meanwhile, Creigh Deeds (D) won the backing of the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, which represents some 6,500 firefighters and paramedics in the state.
* McDonnell was in Lynchburg today, and Deeds was in Norfolk. Both candidates will be in Norfolk tomorrow for an 11:30 a.m. debate hosted by the Norfolk and Portsmouth Bar Association.
* Deeds will get some fundraising help from one of the nation's least popular governors.
*McDonnell's F-bomb is still getting attention.

With Just 50 Days Left, Christie Maintains Lead In N.J.

The gap has narrowed somewhat, but the latest Monmouth University/Gannett poll of the New Jersey gubernatorial race shows Chris Christie (R) still well ahead of Gov. Jon Corzine (D).

General Election Matchup -- Likely Voters
Christie 47 (-3 from last poll, 8/4)
Corzine 39 (+3)
Daggett 5 (+1)
Don't Know 7 (-1)

There were no major shifts in the candidates' favorability ratings. That's bad news for Corzine, who still has a high net-negative rating. Independent candidate Daggett is still an unknown.

Favorable Rating
Corzine 37 / 53
Christie 48 / 30
Daggett 11 / 6

Corzine's approval rating among likely voters is 34 percent, with 58 percent disapproving. Voters say that on the key issues -- economy and taxes -- Christie would do a better job than Corzine.

But New Jersey Democrats point to the fact that Christie hasn't cleared the 50 percent hurdle. And Monmouth's pollster finds that the electorate is still unsettled. "A Republican holding a steady poll lead is unprecedented in recent New Jersey elections and this shouldn't be discounted. But the results also indicate there is a lot of churning in this electorate. Despite the incumbent's continued unpopularity, there is still a sense that anything can happen," Patrick Murray said in a release.

The survey of 531 likely voters was conducted September 8-10, and had a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percent.

With 50 days left until Election Day, the RCP Average has Christie with a lead of 6.8 percent.

New Polls Find Christie's Lead Stable

Despite a tough few weeks for the New Jersey GOP gubernatorial candidate, Chris Christie's lead over incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has not changed in two new surveys from Rasmussen (Sept. 9, 500 LV, MoE +/- 4.5 %) and Democratic pollster GQR/Democracy Corps (Sept. 8-9, 615 LV, MoE +/- 4%). Both candidates did lose support in both polls since last month, though it's likely due to the independent candidate, Chris Daggett.

Christie 46 (-4 vs. last poll, Aug. 27)
Corzine 38 (-4)
Daggett 6
Und 10

GQR/Democracy Corps
Christie 41 (-5 vs. last poll,
Corzine 38 (-5)
Daggett (I) 10

Christie leads by 6.5 points in the RCP Average for New Jersey Governor

RGA Launches New VA, NJ Spots

The Republican Governors Association is again ramping up its commitment on the airwaves in this fall's gubernatorial elections, targeting the Democratic candidates' records in Virginia and New Jersey.

The 30-second spot in Virginia claims that Creigh Deeds (D) would be "pumping up" taxes and spending in Richmond, citing his support for gas tax increases.

The 15-second spot in more expensive New Jersey bluntly lays out what the RGA sees as Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) record: "Tax. Waste. Debt. Failure."

New Corzine Spot Targets Christie On Stimulus

Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) campaign has launched a new TV ad that credits him with helping lead New Jersey through "tough times," while slamming Chris Christie (R) as a "partisan" who would have rejected federal support.

Bringing national politics into the Blue State race, a narrator says: "Chris Christie's so partisan he'd reject President Obama's stimulus funds -- driving up property taxes $2 billion. Chris Christie -- the same Bush policies that got us into this mess."

It's a pure contrast ad -- not necessarily the kind of negative spot Corzine's camp had been running on things like Christie's driving record or no-bid contracts. Citing a recent unemployment report that showed a slight increase in employment in the state, the ad claims that Corzine's economic plans are "beginning to work," and that the state is "bucking the national trend."

Indie Candidate Daggett Lampoons Rivals In TV Ad

Independent candidate Chris Daggett, looking to boost his visibility in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, has launched a new must-watch TV ad using look-alikes to mock the two major party candidates.

The scene: an escalator breaks down, probably at one of the Garden State's wonderful shopping malls. One passenger, Gov. Jon Corzine (D), is portrayed as an aloof, Wall Street Journal reading figure hoping someone will bail him out. Another, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R), is shown as a rotund angry man shouting for help. "If someone doesn't fix this right now, people going to jail. Jail I said, jail!" he bellows.

"When Democrats and Republican fail New Jersey, it's up to us to take New Jersey back," a narrator says. "Follow me," Daggett himself says, leading people past the fake candidates, and directing fire men to help the other guys who "still need rescuing."

The ad launched Sunday in the New York market, and will air on broadcast and cable during news programming and Yankees games, spokesperson Tom Johnson told RCP this morning. The ad is the brainchild of Bill Hillsman, who has a reputation for doing these type of "quirky" ads, for candidates like Jesse Ventura.

"We're trying to raise our name recognition here, and we'll be saying a lot more as the campaign goes on," Johnson said.

Continue reading "Indie Candidate Daggett Lampoons Rivals In TV Ad" »

But Quinnipiac Has Christie Up 10

But the second poll, from Quinnipiac, has better news for the Republican Christie, with him expanding his lead from early August.

General Election Matchup
Christie 47 (+1 from 8/11)
Corzine 37 (-3)
Daggett 9 (+2)

Heading into today, Christie lead Corzine by 7 percent in the RCP Average. That composite includes surveys testing both a three-way race with independent Chris Daggett and those simply testing Corzine and Christie head-to-head. Quinnipiac had been testing both three-way and two-person races but dropped the latter this month.

Favorable Ratings
Christie 41 / 30
Corzine 34 / 57
Daggett 8 / 4

Christie's net fav/unfav number has slipped from 16 to 11, as has the governor's -- from a -17 to -23. Corzine's job approval rating has also slipped somewhat, with 34 percent approving and 60 percent disapproving. The campaigns' negative ads are certainly playing a role and most voters say they have seen them. But only 36 percent say an earlier Corzine spot criticizing Christie for giving contracts to former Bush administration officials was "a legitimate campaign issue," while voters were split on whether a Christie spot targeting Corzine on the economy was fair.

Continue reading "But Quinnipiac Has Christie Up 10" »

NJ Gov Poll: FDU Has A 5-Point Race

Two new independent polls are out today on the New Jersey governor race. The first is from FDU/PublicMind, which in the past has shown former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) with a narrower edge over Gov. Jon Corzine (D) than most other polls. They now have Christie ahead by 5.

General Election Matchup
Christie 47 (+2 from 7/1)
Corzine 42 (+3)
Daggett 1 (n/a)
Don't Know 6 (-11)

Pollster Peter Wooley points out that Corzine is improving his performance among Democrats, with 73 percent now backing him. But Christie has stronger support among Republicans -- 85 percent. Independent candidate Chris Daggett was not listed in the survey, but some voters did volunteer him. His name ID has improved since July, with only two-thirds saying they're unfamiliar with him.

Corzine's favorable rating has improved from 31 to 37 percent, while his negatives remained steady at 54. Christie's favorable rating went from 34 to 38 percent, but his unfavorables rose much faster -- from 25 to 35.

Asked about the direction of the state, 22 percent of voters think it's moving in the right direction while 68 percent say it's on the wrong track -- the highest number in three years of polling.

Job Approval
Corzine 37/52
Obama 61/29

Asked which candidate the voter thinks will win, 45 percent say Corzine and 41 percent say Christie. Interestingly, that gap has narrowed for Corzine even as more voters say they will vote for him.

The survey of 715 likely voters was conducted by telephone from August 24 - 30, and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.

Corzine Camp Highlights Christie Loan In TV Ad

With just over two months left before voters go to the polls, Gov. Jon Corzine's campaign is sticking with an ad strategy aimed at driving up Chris Christie's (R) negatives. Today the Democrat has a new 30-second spot going up that calls further attention to the controversy over a loan Christie gave a subordinate in the U.S. attorney's office, which he failed to report.

The punch line argues that Christie, who is running on his law-and-order background, has "one set of rules for himself, another for everyone else." Read the full script after the jump.

Continue reading "Corzine Camp Highlights Christie Loan In TV Ad" »

Dem Poll Claims Close Race In New Jersey

After polling the race just two weeks ago, the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research has new data out of New Jersey, showing Gov. Jon Corzine (D) now just two points behind former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R).

General Election Matchup
Christie 43 (+3 from 8/12)
Corzine 41 (+6)
Daggett 7 (-3)
Undecided 8 (-7)

In a head-to head matchup not including the independent candidate, Christie would lead 46 to 43.

From the polling memo:

"The Republican brand continues to be an anchor for Christie in the state. The Republican Party's favorability rating remains decidedly negative, with just 32 percent of New Jersey voters rating it favorably against 43 percent who give it a negative rating. On the generic state legislative ballot, the Democratic candidates hold an 8-point edge on the Republicans, 45 to 37 percent. Christie's negative ratings remain as high as his positives, with 35 percent viewing him favorably and 34 percent unfavorably.

A survey from a Republican pollster also showed a tightening race. This survey, conducted August 25-26 among 608 likely voters, came after a very bad news cycle for Christie. His net favorability rating has remained steady since them, with 35 percent viewing him favorably and 34 percent unfavorably. The poll's margin of error was +/- 4 percent.

Christie's Curious Response

We noted yesterday the latest pitfall in what has been a tough few weeks for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Chris Christie -- four-year-old tickets for speeding and driving an unregistered vehicle. Today, his campaign is downplaying the news with a series of mock "Breaking News" alerts to reporters about other "minor" transgressions. Here's a list:

  • "BREAKING NEWS: Christie Spotted Taking a Penny, Not Leaving a Penny"
  • "BREAKING NEWS: Christie Admits to Borrowing Lunch Money in 3rd Grade"
  • "BREAKING NEWS: Christie Spotted Removing Tag from Mattress"
  • "BREAKING NEWS: Christie Asked to Leave Movie Theatre for Talking on Cell Phone"

His campaign is inviting supporters to tweet other joke transgressions, with the hash-tag "#notnews." They've even produced faux newscast on YouTube.

Democrats don't find it so funny, however, and three different campaign committees are teeing off.

From the Corzine campaign:

"They may think it's funny, but a federal prosecutor using their power to pressure local law enforcement into giving them preferential treatment is no laughing matter. In fact, several public officials in New Jersey have been forced to resign over the very same thing. At the end of the day, it is more and more evident that Christie has always had one set of rules for himself and another for everyone else."

From the Democratic Governors Association:

"Aside from how desperate and tone deaf all of these emails are, the most telling aspect is that the Christie campaign doesn't seem to understand that voters hate when a candidate has one set of rules for himself and another for them."

And now, the DNC -- focusing on what they call a "bizarre" YouTube video:

"The Christie campaign must have produced their new ad over the last few days while avoiding questions about Christie's law breaking conversations with Karl Rove, his secret loans and a mysterious traffic stop. Instead of mocking the news, maybe they could spend their time answering the people's questions about the important issues facing New Jersey. The only thing that's a mockery is Chris Christie lecturing anyone about ethics."

On a serious note, the Christie camp also released a new television ad today, featuring Obama voters who say they're backing Christie. You can check it out after the jump.

Continue reading "Christie's Curious Response" »

Rasmussen Poll Shows Some Tightening In New Jersey

The second survey this month from Rasmussen of the New Jersey gubernatorial race shows that Chris Christie's (R) lead has narrowed slightly, reflecting a wave of unfavorable coverage.

General Election Matchup
Christie 50 (-2 from 8/4)
Corzine 42 (+3)
Other 2 (-2)
Not Sure 7 (+2)

This poll does not include the name of the independent candidate, Chris Daggett, who has qualified for public funding and will be part of any debates that are held.

The RCP Average of polls on the race reflects the Christie slump, with his average lead down to 9 points.

Corzine's job approval number is still weak, with 35 percent approving and 65 percent disapproving -- lower even than earlier this month. President Obama's approval is at 55 percent, with 44 percent disapproving.

Favorability Numbers
Christie 45 / 51
Corzine 36 / 61

The survey of 500 likely voters was conducted August 25, and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.

Christie Driving Summons Surfaces

The oppo dump continues.

Millennium Radio got its hands on tickets issued to then-U.S. Attorney and current gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie in 2005 for speeding and driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle.

All three tickets had the words "no deal" written on them. The spokesperson says Christie talked with the prosecutor, signed an [affidavit] pleading guilty and paid a substantial fine. The speeding ticket was reduced and the unregistered [dismissed]. The spokesperson says Christie does not recall who brought it up but acknowledges the fact that Christie was U.S. Attorney did come up. Christie has refused to return multiple calls asking for comment.

What will add fuel to the fire is that Michelle Brown, Christie's former deputy who plays a starring role in another media firestorm, was driving with Christie and his family at the time. Brown received a personal loan from Christie, which he had not reported on a financial disclosure form.

Any day Democrats can dent Christie's tough-on-corruption image is a good one for them. The higher Christie's negatives go, the theory goes, the better Gov. Jon Corzine fares in what could be a low-turnout race.

UPDATE: The Christie camp response, from spokesperson Maria Comella:

"Before the Corzine campaign wastes any more of the governor's Wall Street millions on opposition research, we're going to let them know Kim received a ticket in 2007 for driving while on a cell phone and Chris got detention in the 9th grade for too much talking in class."

Former Christie Colleague Who Received Loan Resigns

Michele Brown, the acting first assistant U.S. Attorney for New Jersey who received a loan from her former boss, New Jersey governor candidate Chris Christie (R), resigned today, citing the controversy over the financial distraction. From the Newark Star-Ledger:

The surprise resignation came only eight days after it was revealed that Brown had borrowed $46,000 from Christie while he was her boss as the state's U.S. attorney. The disclosure became a huge distraction for the GOP candidate, who is seeking to unseat Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, after Christie acknowledged that he failed to report it on his income tax returns and mandatory financial disclosure reports.

Christie released this statement:

"Michele Brown is a career prosecutor who has worked at the U.S. Attorney's office for 18 years, serving both Democratic and Republican presidents.  Michele's long and distinguished record of public service is impressive, and during that time she's shown herself to be a fair and respected federal prosecutor among judges, adversaries and her peers. Her efforts have been instrumental to all the success the U.S. Attorney's office has had and her work ethic, determination and outstanding legal background will be missed by all those she has worked with over the years.  I know Michele will continue to be a success at whatever she chooses for her next challenge."

NJ Gov: GOP Poll Shows Race Tightening

Amid sustained attacks from Democrats over ties to Karl Rove and a personal loan to a former colleague, Chris Christie's lead appears to be shrinking. A poll conducted by Rick Shaftan, a consultant to Christie's former primary opponent, shows that Gov. Jon Corzine has pulled to within just two points.

General Election Matchup
Christie 37
Corzine 35
Daggett 6

The survey of 319 likely voters was conducted by Neighborhood Research, and first reported on by It was conducted from August 12-21, just as a House Committee's interview with Rove that included talk of discussions with Christie surfaced. The margin of error is +/- 5.5 percent.

Among a smaller sample of so-called "definite voters," Christie leads 39-36, with Daggett polling at 6. That sample size was 275.

Favorability Ratings
Corzine 23 / 46
Christie 20 / 27
Daggett 2 / 1
Obama 47 / 28
Pelosi 16 / 41

Shaftan told RCP today that where Corzine's base had been unmotivated all year, he's starting to see a dampening in enthusiasm among Republican voters now, too, creating the scenario for a very low-turnout race. With Christie's unfavorables rising, he said the campaign should reconsider its approach.

"Every day he's not talking about issues and it's just a personality war, that's never good for a Republican," Shaftan said. "[Voters] don't like Corzine. They don't want him as governor. But they're looking at Christie and asking, 'Is he any different?' He's really not making the case that he is different."

There's a particular opening on health care, he said, calling it the hottest issue right now for the GOP base. "They're excited about being political, and presumably all these people should be Christie voters," he said. But the Christie campaign seems reluctant to target President Obama, even as his favorable numbers have dropped in the Garden State. "They're running a two-month old strategy: they still think Obama's loved, and they still think they're 16 points up."

Continue reading "NJ Gov: GOP Poll Shows Race Tightening" »

Christie Lashes Out At Corzine Camp's "Manufactured Outrage"

After more than a week of stories focused on his political relationship with Karl Rove and his financial relationship with a former subordinate in the U.S. Attorney's office, Chris Christie tried to get back on offense today in what is becoming a typically New Jersey tit-for-tat campaign.

On a conference call this afternoon Christie accused Democrat Jon Corzine of bringing a "trader's mentality" to the governor's office, with his campaign alleging that, as a Goldman Sachs executive, Corzine was "protecting and fighting for Enron's off-shore tax havens and enabling them to successfully scam the government." Christie said this action in lobbying the Clinton administration to preserve so-called Monthly Income Preferred Securities led to the "precipitous fall of Enron" and cost the state pension fund.

"He is what he is, he's a trader," Christie said. "Traders only worry about getting the trade done so they can get the benefit in their pocket. Whether that benefit is money at Goldman Sachs, or whether that benefit is now his political fortune, that's what Jon Corzine does."

Questions on the call, however, quickly turned to the loan Christie made to Michele Brown, who still serves in the U.S. Attorney's office. Christie said that there is nothing wrong with giving a subordinate a loan, while acknowledging he made a mistake in not disclosing interest payments on his financial disclosure. He also said media coverage of the matter has been "incredibly overdone" and the reaction to it "kind of crazy," accusing the Corzine campaign of "manufacturing fake outrage" about the issue.

"The time has come to make sure that we're having fair treatment across the board here," he said. "We're not having the same kind of conversation for the same people who are pushing this story from the governor's campaign. This is really hypocrisy."

UPDATE: Check out the Corzine camp's response after the jump.

Continue reading "Christie Lashes Out At Corzine Camp's "Manufactured Outrage"" »

Dem Pollster Shows Tighter N.J. Race

The Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research has a new poll of the New Jersey gubernatorial race that former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) ahead of Gov. Jon Corzine (D), though by a slimmer margin.

General Election Matchup
Christie 40
Corzine 35
Daggett 10
Undecided 15

Most of Daggett's support is weak, as one would expect with an independent candidate. In a separate matchup without Daggett in the race, Christie would lead Corzine 43-37, with 20 percent undecided.

Only 23 percent of voters think the state is on the right track, compared to 65 who think the opposite.

A memo from Stan Greenberg and James Carville, who commissioned the survey, offers some optimism for Democrats who have seen their candidate consistently well behind.

As voters learn more about Chris Christie, his negative ratings appear to be rising. His negative ratings are now as high as his positives--32 percent view him favorably, 31 percent unfavorably.

Meanwhile, the Republican brand continues to carry negative connotations in New Jersey. The Democratic Party generates a more positive reaction than their Republican counterparts, receiving a favorable-unfavorable rating of 40 to 39 percent compared to a favorable-unfavorable rating of 29 to 43 percent for the Republican Party.

The survey of 600 registered voters was conducted August 11-12, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent.

The Rove Factor In New Jersey

Chris Christie had been talked about as a potential candidate for statewide office in New Jersey often in the past five years. So the news that, as a United States Attorney, he spoke with the Bush White House's chief political adviser should not be particularly shocking to many people.

But that fact was confirmed yesterday with the release of transcripts of Karl Rove's interviews with the House Judiciary Committee. Why does this matter? Christie has, with the exception of the end of his primary campaign, run largely toward the middle in the gubernatorial race thus far. He did a tour of urban areas, recently hosted an event on education, and is otherwise emphasizing his law-and-order background.

The campaign of Gov. Jon Corzine (D), however, is eager to remind voters of his Republican affiliation. But they've thus far only been able to do so by repeatedly invoking a somewhat obscure "scandal" in which they say Christie had, as U.S. Attorney, awarded no-bid contracts to some "cronies," one involved with his brother, and another to former Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft.

It's hard to say whether that has gotten much traction. So this new development with Rove gives them a more high-profile opportunity to link Christie with national Republicans and President George W. Bush, who lost the state twice.

In his interview, Rove does say he spoke with Christie about a potential gubernatorial bid (read the full exchange after the jump). Corzine's camp has reacted strongly. "It's pretty clear now that Christie was running a gubernatorial campaign out of the United States Attorney's office with the Bush White House and Bush's political brain, Karl Rove," Corzine communications director Sean Darcy has said. "Christie now has to answer a number of questions, including: When did the planning start for his gubernatorial campaign? Who was involved with the planning, including members of the United States Attorney's office? How did all of this impact his investigations, including prosecutorial decisions?"

Here's the Christie camp response, from spokesperson Maria Comella.

"Mr. Rove's testimony confirms what we've known all along, that Chris' appointment as U.S. Attorney was based on his qualifications and his subsequent performance as U.S. Attorney was based on the facts of each case, not on politics.  Furthermore, since even before the 2005 election there has been great speculation about whether Chris would ultimately run for some form of elected office.  As such, it is not surprising that as the Bush Administration was winding down, Mr. Rove inquired about Chris' future plans once his term as U.S. Attorney would come to an end.  In this informal conversation, Chris discussed with Mr. Rove the fact he was being urged to run for elected office and Mr. Rove in turn offered to recommend people who could help Chris reach a decision if he eventually seriously considered running for office."

Excerpts from the Rove interview are after the jump.

Continue reading "The Rove Factor In New Jersey" »

NJ Gov Poll: Christie Up 8 In Kos/R2K Survey

The Daily Kos has polled on the New Jersey gubernatorial race, and finds a somewhat smaller deficit for Gov. Jon Corzine (D) than other recent surveys, which have put former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie ahead by double-digits.

General Election Matchup
Christie 48
Corzine 40
Undecided 9

This poll, done by Research 2000, does not include independent candidate Chris Daggett, who has averaged in the mid-single digits. The RCP Average has Christie leading 12.5 points.

Corzine also again posts abysmal favorability ratings -- 35 percent overall and just 27 percent among independents.

Favorability Ratings
Christie 44 / 29
Corzine 35 / 56
Obama 62 / 31

The survey of 600 likely voters was conducted from August 3 to 5, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

NJ Gov: Internal (D) Poll Shows Corzine Down 7

An independent survey out today shows Gov. Jon Corzine (D) trailing by 14 points. But a Global Strategy Group survey commissioned by the Democratic caucus in the state Assembly and first obtained by puts former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie's (R) lead at half that. The discrepancy is mostly in the undecided column, a sector Democratic interest groups are targeting as election day nears.

General Election Matchup
Christie 42
Corzine 35
Daggett 6
Undecided 14

The survey shows Corzine with only 58 percent of the vote among Democrats, while Christie polls at 77 percent among Republicans, and leads by 17 points among independent voters. The survey of 604 likely voters was conducted July 29-30 and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Supporters of the incumbent continue to maintain that as Garden State voters become more familiar with Christie and his record they'll give the governor a second look. To that end, the state AFL-CIO launches a new Web site today called "The Real Christie," highlighting positions on issues like education, health care and the economy. An AFL-CIO spokesperson says the web site is part of an "aggressive campaign in NJ to ensure workers know the truth about Christie's horrible record on issues that are important to working families."

Corzine Launches Obama Spot On NJ Airwaves

Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) campaign is again turning to President Obama, this time with a new television ad that consists entirely of footage from a mid-July rally featuring the two Democrats.

The campaign says the 30-second ad will air statewide on cable and broadcast television. It's the first positive spot for Corzine's camp since just before the primary, after a series of tough spots targeting Republican Chris Christie. The clips highlights Obama's calling Corzine "a leader who's been called to govern in some extraordinary times," and praise for his record on education and the economy.

Of course, a poll taken last month found that Obama, though still popular in the Garden State, could have a minimal impact on the race.

A curious note: the video footage in the ad seems to have been altered to remove the seal of the President on the podium Obama speaks from.

Read the script after the jump:

Continue reading "Corzine Launches Obama Spot On NJ Airwaves" »

NJ Gov Poll: Christie Leads By 14 Head-To-Head

Public Policy Polling (D) finds that Chris Christie (R) is holding on to a strong lead over incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D).

General Election Matchup
Christie 50 (-1 from 6/30 survey)
Corzine 36 (-5)
Undecided 14 (+5)

The survey does not include an independent candidate who has qualified for public financing, Chris Daggett. As the survey was being conducted, Corzine also announced his choice for a running mate, state Sen. Loretta Weinberg.

Asked the certainty of their choice, 75 percent of voters said they were solidly committed, while 25 percent said they could still change their mind. Adding to the uncertainty for Corzine is the fact that he's still viewed unfavorably by a majority of voters, 56 percent, while 33 percent have a favorable opinion. Christie's has a 10-point net favorability rating, 42-32 percent.

The survey of 552 likely voters was conducted July 24-27, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percent. The result pulls Christie's lead in the RCP average to 12.2 points.

No "Apprentice" For Corzine: NJ Gov Picks Weinberg

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine has chosen his running mate for the fall campaign, state Sen. Loretta Weinberg. A previous report had indicated that the governor was leaning toward former "Apprentice" winner Randal Pinkett; even some in Corzine's own party rejected the trial balloon.

With the selection, the state is assured that a woman will serve as the state's first-ever lieutenant governor. Chris Christie (R) has tapped Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno as his running mate. Weinberg brings to the Democratic ticket a record of independence and potentially votes in what has been the swing county in recent state elections, Bergen County.

After the jump, read Corzine's announcement of his running mate pick.

Continue reading "No "Apprentice" For Corzine: NJ Gov Picks Weinberg" »

Christie Drops Ad, Obama E-mails Supporters

One day after 44 people were arrested on corruption charges in New Jersey, Chris Christie, the GOP nominee for governor, released a new TV ad highlighting his work in the U.S. Attorney's office, where he prosecuted corrupt politicians from both parties.

"As U.S. Attorney, I put corrupt public officials in jail -- Republicans and Democrats," Christie says in the ad. "If you want partisan politics as usual, well I'm not your guy. But if you really want to change Trenton, let's start by changing governors."

The ad is Christie's first of the general election campaign. He faces Gov. Jon Corzine (D) in November.

Also today, an e-mail was distributed from President Obama to supporters in New Jersey requesting volunteers for the Corzine campaign.

I'm proud to have Jon as a partner as we all work to get our economy back on track, and I hope to work with him for years to come. But if I learned one thing from my campaign last year, it's that none of us can do it alone. It will take thousands of people like you coming together and working as one to build a better future for New Jersey.

Jersey Corruption Sting And The Governor's Race

Though Gov. Jon Corzine (D) doesn't seem to be personally involved at all, it would seem that today's arrest of several New Jersey state and municipal officials on bribery charges can only add to the incumbent's woes.

"New Jersey's corruption problem is one of the worst, if not the worst in the nation," Ed Kahrer of the FBI said today. "Corruption is not only pervasive, it has become ingrained in New Jersey's political culture."

Corzine has pursued tougher ethics standards in his first term, but combine the fact that this went on on his watch and the crime-busting image that Republican Chris Christie burnished as U.S. attorney, and you see how what was already an uphill race just got tougher. The governor had to pull out of a scheduled conference call with so-called grassroots donors to the Democratic Governors Association because of the news.

"Any corruption is unacceptable - anywhere, anytime, by anybody," Corzine said in a statement. "The scale of corruption we're seeing as this unfolds is simply outrageous and cannot be tolerated."

He asked for the resignation of a Cabinet member, Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Joseph Doria, after his home was raided. Christie released a statement calling on one of the Republican officials involved, state Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt, to resign.

"Now more than ever, New Jersey needs elected officials who are committed to honesty, integrity and a higher standard of ethics," he said. "Assemblyman Van Pelt has failed the people he was elected to serve and has violated their trust. He has no other choice but to resign immediately and allow the people of Ocean County to elect an official who will put the people before personal self-interest." 

Asked about the developments at an event today, Christie chose not to make overt political hay.

"I can't see this day in a political context," he said, according to "This matter started while I was at the U.S. Attorney's office, and as I found out this morning while it was culminating, I can only think of it in terms of what it means in a law enforcement perspective. There will be others who can judge this politically. ... But today, candidly, given all the hard work that I know went into this by the prosecutors and FBI, I'm having trouble getting myself out of that mode."

NJ Gov: Strategic Vision Puts Christie Up 15

A new Strategic Vision (R), conducted after President Obama's event with Gov. Jon Corzine (D), shows the incumbent falling only further behind.

General Election Matchup
Christie 53 (+2)
Corzine 38 (-1)
Daggett 5
Undecided 4 (-4)

Daggett, an independent candidate and former state EPA administrator, was not included in the June survey. Christie's lead in the RCP Average is now 10.5 points.

Corzine's job approval has basically held steady, but President Obama's score has slipped six points.

Job Approval Rating
Corzine: 35/55
Menendez: 51/38
Lautenberg: 48/42
Obama: 50/40

The survey also found that only 24 percent of voters say the state is on the right track, a dip of four points since the last survey.

The telephone survey of 800 likely voters was conducted June 17-19, and had a margin of error of +/- 3 points.

Corzine Stays Negative As Voters Deliver Poor Marks

As a new Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll shows that Gov. Jon Corzine (D) gets low marks from New Jersey voters on most issues, his campaign has launched another negative attack on former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R). It shows the Republican nominee leaving a recent Congressional hearing that investigated no-bid contracts his office awarded.

It's notable that one week after a rally with President Obama, Corzine is still hammering away at what is a somewhat complicated set of allegations that ultimately tie Christie to the unpopular Bush administration. The new Monmouth "semi-annual report card" indicates he is unlikely to raise his standing with state voters.

His job approval stands at 38 percent among registered voters, and only 30 percent among independents and 53 percent among fellow Democrats. Asked if voters thought Corzine had any significant accomplishments, just 13 percent said he had "major accomplishments," while 49 percent said he had only minor accomplishments. A third -- 34 percent -- said he had no real accomplishments. Here are his letter grades on specific issues:

Cost Cutting: C-
Property Taxes: D+
Government Ethics: C-
Cost of Living: D
Schools: C
Level of Effort: C
Overall Grade: C-

The survey of 923 adults was conducted from July 9-14, and had a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percent.

Christie Tweets Running Mate Pick

(UPDATED with Corzine camp statement below.)

Chris Christie today became the first of the New Jersey governor candidates to pick a running mate, announcing via Twitter that he's chosen Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno. The new Republican ticket will travel throughout the state today.

In a Web video, Christie said Guadagno "has the executive experience New Jerseyans need in their first lieutenant governor." The position was created years ago after a series of gubernatorial vacancies elevated the state Senate president to serve as governor for extended periods of time.

The sober tone of the video also seems to be a response of sorts to the rally Gov. Jon Corzine (D) held last week with President Obama.

"If you're looking for boisterous rallies or overblown campaign events, you're not going to get those from us. You're going to get serious talk and real solutions," Christie says.

In Guadagno, the sheriff and a former U.S. attorney like himself, Christie doubles down on his tough-on-crime persona, while also making a play for the women's vote. He does not, however, seem to be making a geographic calculation; Guadagno represents a fairly reliable Republican county. He had also reportedly been considering Kathe Donovan, County Clerk of Bergen County, which has been the key battleground in recent elections.

Corzine has one week to make his selection for a running mate. He had reportedly been considering former "Apprentice" winner Randal Pinkett; other potential selections include State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D) of Bergen County.

UPDATE: Here's the reaction from the Corzine camp:

"While we applaud Christie for picking a woman, Republicans still have a top of the ticket that will not protect women's rights in Trenton. Whether it is refusing a woman's right to choose, denying handgun legislation that would protect our children and keep our streets safe, or opposing paid family leave that allows mothers to take time off and attend to their newborns, this Conservative Right-Wing Republican ticket is completely out of touch with New Jersey."

Republicans For Sotomayor

This morning, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) became the first Republican to announce his support for Judge Sotomayor.

"I have listened to the testimony of Judge Sonia Sotomayor before the Senate Judiciary Committee, carefully reviewed her public service record, and reviewed recommendations from Indiana constituents and colleagues here in the Senate. Judge Sotomayor is clearly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court and she has demonstrated a judicial temperament during her week-long nomination hearing. Judge Sotomayor has had a distinguished career of public service. She is well regarded in the legal community and by her peers. I will vote to confirm Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States."

And now, though he doesn't have a vote and isn't even running for the Senate, Republican Chris Christie (R) issues a press release saying he'd support her nomination to the bench.

"After watching and listening to Judge Sotomayor's performance at the confirmation hearings this week, I am confident that she is qualified for the position of Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Elections have consequences. One of those consequences are judicial appointments.  While Judge Sotomayor would not have been my choice, President Obama has used his opportunity to fill a seat on the Supreme Court by choosing a nominee who has more than proven her capability, competence and ability. I support her appointment to the Supreme Court and urge the Senate to keep politics out of the process and confirm her nomination. Qualified appointees should be confirmed and deserve bi-partisan support. ... This is a historic moment and her inspiring success story should not only make the Latino community proud, but all Americans."

The New Jersey gubernatorial hopeful seems to be making a play for independent and even Democratic votes in the Garden State.

Stumping For Corzine, Obama Also Sells Health Care

In his first official campaign event since his own election, President Obama urged New Jerseyans to return Jon Corzine to the governor's office this fall, calling him "a leader who's been called to govern in some extraordinary times." But Obama spent as much, if not more time at the event pushing his own agenda, especially health care.

"We have talked and talked and talked about fixing health care for decades. And we have finally reached a point where inaction is no longer an option -- where the choice to defer reform is nothing more than a decision to defend the status quo," he told tens of thousands at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. "I will not defend the status quo."

He conceded the effort is not easy, and his fiery speech reflected increasing skepticism that a deal can be reached on the timetable he originally sought.

"You're going to hear the same scare tactics from special interest groups that have been used to kill health care reform for decades," he said. "You're going to hear a lot of nonsense." So he tried to sell his plan to an audience he conceded might already be "satisfied with their health care right now." To critics, he said people need to ask what their plan is.

Corzine wasn't entirely overshadowed, standing behind the president throughout the speech and applauding throughout. Obama rattled off a number of accomplishments, saying he "has provided more property tax relief than any other governor in New Jersey history," and was "the first governor in 60 years who has reduced the size of government," among other things. But he acknowledged what's at the root of Corzine's challenge: a faltering economy.

"He's been tested by the worst recession in half a century -- a recession that was caused by years of recklessness and irresponsibility and a do-nothing attitude," Obama said. "It was caused by the same small thinking that has plagued our politics for decades -- the kind of thinking that says we can afford to just tinker around with our problems, we can put off the tough decisions, defer the big challenges. We can just tell people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear."

Corzine's re-election strategy relies in part on him convincing voters in the increasingly Democratic state to again vote against the Republican, and Obama's rhetoric amplified that. But polls show that not only are voters more concerned with state issues, but that even presidential support won't tip the scales.

Obama also helped raise $1 million for Garden State Democrats earlier. Tonight, he'll raise money for the DNC after speaking at the NAACP Convention.

NJ Gov Poll: Obama's Corzine Backing Has Little Impact

Just in time for the President's visit to New Jersey, Monmouth University releases its latest survey of the gubernatorial race, again showing Republican challenger Chris Christie ahead of Jon Corzine (D).

General Election Matchup (Likely Voters)
(Overall / Dem / Ind / Rep)
Christie 45 / 17 / 47 / 78
Corzine 37 / 67 / 24 / 10
Daggett 4 / 4 / 7 / 4
Don't Know 13 / 11 / 20 / 8

Christie's lead is 6 among registered voters, 43-37. That's an increase from a 39-35 lead in Monmouth's last survey in April. Among voters who say they are sure of their choice, Christie has a 29-25 edge among likely voters.

Favorability Ratings
Corzine 41 / 50
Christie 43 / 24
Daggett 6 / 9

Voters overwhelmingly say property taxes are the most important issue -- 49 percent. Another 8 percent say income taxes, and 5 percent say sales taxes. But 23 percent say the economy is the top issue for them.

Looking at President Obama, he has a 56 percent approval rating among likely voters, with 34 percent disapproving. Yet when asked if they are satisfied with how things are going in Washington, only 38 percent say yes and 54 percent say no. Though some say the 2009 gubernatorial elections could be a referendum on Obama's policies, 75 percent of New Jersey likely voters say they'll decide their vote based on state and local issues. Another 69 percent say that President Obama campaigning for Corzine will have no impact on their decision. Actually, 17 percent say it would make them less likely to support him, while only 13 percent say it would help him.

The telephone poll was conducted by Braun Research from July 9-14, with a sample of 792 registered voters and margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent. The likely voter subsample of 527 voters had a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percent. Christie maintains a 10.4 point average in the RCP Average.

Obama Stumping For Friend In Need

Previewing tomorrow's campaign rally with the New Jersey governor, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said President Obama considers Jon Corzine a friend, and that despite tough times he has earned a second term.

"Obviously [it's] a state that has been hit pretty hard, as many states have been, with economic difficulties," Gibbs said. "He thinks he's doing a good job and should be re-elected."

Gibbs noted that Corzine, as a senator in 2004, headed the Democratic campaign committee that worked with Obama when he won election to the Senate. He's "a friend," and he even "has some affection for the fact that Corzine was a basketball player" in college.

Gibbs also noted that New Jersey is a state where "the president did well" in 2008. Acknowledging that, Corzine's Republican opponent launched a Web video welcoming the president, and argued that the appetite for change that helped Obama carry the Garden State will also result in a change in Trenton.

"Your election didn't end the people's hunger for change in New Jersey," he said. "People understand that high taxes, high spending, overzealous regulation and loss jobs is not the way they want New Jersey's future to be."

He said he hopes that while riding on the Garden State Parkway, he hopes he listens to some Bruce Springsteen, and maybe even stops for some salt-water taffy.

"After I'm elected in November and sworn in in January, you'll be getting an invitation to come back and visit with me," he adds.

RGA Targets Corzine, Who May Have A Running Mate Soon

The Republican Governors Association takes to the airwaves with a new 15-second ad targeting Gov. Jon Corzine on taxes.

Jon Corzine said he'd cut taxes. He raised them by billions. Corzine said he'd bring jobs to New Jersey. Unemployment's up 73 percent. Now, he's spending millions falsely attacking Chris Christie. Corzine: Watch what he does, not what he says.

Meanwhile, the Asbury Park Press reports this morning that Corzine could announce his choice for a running mate at Thursday's rally with President Obama. The choice? Randal Pinkett, a past winner of Donald Trump's "The Apprentice." An outside-the-box choice to be sure, arguably similar to what John McCain did when, trailing in the polls, he tapped Sarah Palin.'s Wally Edge disputes the Press report that an announcement is imminent, but says Pinkett is high on the short list.

NJ Gov Poll: Christie Maintains Lead Ahead Of Obama Visit

Days before President Obama comes to his aid, a reminder of the challenge confronting New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D). A Quinnipiac poll out this morning shows Chris Christie (R) maintaining a double-digit edge in head-to-head matchup with the incumbent.

General Election Matchup
Christie 53 (+3)
Corzine 41 (+1)
Undecided 6 (-3)

Christie has stronger support among Republicans (89/7) than Corzine does among Democrats (76/19), which is one reason why Obama's visit is so important. Christie, the former U.S. Attorney, also holds a whopping 36 point lead among independent voters, 64-28.

But this won't be a two-person race. Independent candidate Christopher Daggett has qualified for the state's matching funds program, meaning he gets $2 more to spend for every $1 he raises on his own. In a three way race, Christie's lead shrinks somewhat. Daggett served as an EPA administrator in the administration of Ronald Reagan, and as New Jersey's top environmental official under Gov. Tom Kean (R).

General Election Matchup (Three-Way Race)
Christie 47
Corzine 38
Daggett 8
Undecided 8

An overwhelming majority -- 92 percent -- of voters haven't heard enough of Daggett, but as a matching funds recipient he will be required to participate in any debates that are held.

Christie's favorability rating (39/20) continues to rise with his negatives, as Corzine has gone up on the air attacking contracts he bid as the U.S. Attorney. Corzine's negatives are up five points as well, now at 34/48. The governor's approval rating also continues to dip -- only a third of voters approve.

Job Approval Rating
Corzine 33 / 60 (from 36/56 in June)
Obama 60 / 34 (from 68 / 25)
Lautenberg 43 / 40
Menendez 39 / 37

Though Obama's approval has dropped 8 points as well, it's nearly the exact opposite of Corzine's, one reason why the Democrat is so eager for the Thursday visit. But the poll suggests voters aren't buying Corzine's criticism of Christie that he's too close to George Bush -- 77 percent say he should focus on state issues instead.

An only in New Jersey question: who would you rather stroll on the Boardwalk with? Forty percent said Christie, with 38 percent saying Corzine.

In the RCP average of New Jersey polling, Christie's lead is 10.4 points.

The telephone survey of 1,514 likely voters was conducted July 8-12, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percent.

Obama Rally For Corzine Moved To Bigger Venue

In an e-mail, Jon Corzine's campaign tells supporters that due to significant demand, next week's event featuring President Obama has been moved to a bigger venue. Originally slated for the campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, the rally will now be more than 20 miles away via the Turnpike and the Parkway to the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. The concert venue seats more than 17,000, but the campaign said more than 50,000 signed up to attend the rally.

In the message to supporters, campaign manager Maggie Moran says those who RSVPd for the Rutgers event aren't necessarily guaranteed a spot at the new, larger venue. But she promises that there will be "many other opportunities" to attend events either with Obama, first lady Michelle Obama or "other members of the administration." It's unclear if that represents a firm commitment by the president to come back.

The rally will be Obama's first public campaign event since taking office. RNC chairman Michael Steele, meanwhile, will reportedly travel to the Garden State for an event with Chris Christie. But Christie apparently is in no rush to appear with outgoing Gov. Sarah Palin. He told a radio station today that "he would decline to offer Sarah Palin an invitation to campaign with him because he wants to 'focus on what the New Jersey issues are.'"

NJ Gov Poll: Corzine Still Trails, But Help On The Way?

This month's Rasmussen Poll of the New Jersey governor's race shows that incumbent Jon Corzine (D) still trails Chris Christie by double digits. About half -- 47 percent, to be exact -- of the state's voters say that a visit by President Obama this fall will help, while one third say it will have no impact.

General Election Matchup
Christie 53 (+2)
Corzine 41 (+3
Not Sure 5 (-1)

In fact, Obama is coming to the Garden State next week as Corzine seeks to sure up support among Democrats, who other polls have shown haven't fallen in line yet. Obama has a 55 percent job approval rating in New Jersey, while Corzine's is at 40 percent. But even as Obama stumps for Corzine, he may need to continue bucking up his own administration's recovery efforts: only 26 percent say the stimulus plan has helped the economy, while 30 percent say it's made things worse, and 39 percent say it's had no impact.

Christie is viewed much more favorably by state voters, with 57/36 split, compared to the incumbent's upside-down 43/56 favorability. Christie also has huge advantages on the issues of government spending, corruption and taxes -- sure to be his recurring themes going forward.

The Rasmussen Poll was conducted July 7, surveying 500 likely voters with margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent. The RCP average in New Jersey has Christie maintaining a 10-point advantage.

Corzine Goes Negative In Latest TV Spot

Behind in the polls Gov. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) is shifting course with his ad strategy, taking to the airwaves with allegations state Democrats have been making for weeks about Republican Chris Christie involving contracts from the U.S. Attorney's office. One of those no-bid contracts, the ad notes, went to a "Bush Attorney General," John Ashcroft.

Here's the script for the ad, which the Corzine camp says will be aired on network television in the state starting today:

"A million lawyers in America. So who did Chris Christie give contracts to? The Bush Attorney General who was Christie's boss. He got a $52 million no-bid contract. The political pal got a $10 million no-bid contract. The prosecutor who let Christie's brother suspected of stock fraud off the hook. A multi-million no bid-contract. A million lawyers to choose from.  Christie's three pals who got millions.

Obama To Campaign For Corzine July 16

Gov. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.), trailing in almost every poll in his bid for a second term, will get a major boost this month when President Obama visits the Garden State.

In an e-mail to supporters, the Corzine camp announced that Obama will join the governor on the campus of Rutgers University July 16. The White House confirms the event; that week, Obama is also scheduled to throw out the first pitch of the MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis.

"President Obama isn't just a close friend of mine; he's a great friend to our state," Corzine writes in an e-mail to supporters. "After eight long years, we finally have a partner in Washington who shares our values and vision for a more progressive New Jersey."

Corzine, as chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2004, supported then-state Senator Obama's campaign in Illinois and has said the two are close friends. But he backed Sen. Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary; she won the Garden State primary on Super Tuesday.

Politicizing Sanford: NJ Dems Want Christie To Denounce RGA

Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) resigned as chair of the Republican Governors Association just moments after admitting to an affair last week. But now, the New Jersey Democratic Party is trying to tie Republican gubernatorial hopeful Chris Christie to the affair by demanding that he "publicly denounce" the national organization and refuse advertising support.

"Christie has leaned on Sanford's support since the primary to curry favor with the RGA so they would run ads distorting Jon Corzine's record. Christie gladly accepted the support of the Mark Sanford led RGA and now he should call for the negative advertising created by Sanford to be pulled," Democratic chairman Joe Cryan said in a statement. "The hypocrisy of Christie's candidacy is exposed with every "advertising dollar he continues to accept in Mark Sanford's name."

The lengthy statement also tries to link Christie personally with Sanford's "far-right conservative agenda," specifically on abortion.

The RGA typically is active in supporting candidates with television advertising, though some state laws prohibit outside spending. Though the Garden State does have a generous matching funds program, Christie is likely counting on any additional support he can get to combat Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) personal fortune.

NJ Gov: Another Double-Digit Lead For Christie

Nearly a month after winning the Republican primary, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie maintains a double-digit lead over Gov. Jon Corzine (D), a new Public Policy Polling (D) survey finds.

General Election Matchup
Christie 51
Corzine 41
Undecided 9

Typically, New Jerseyans are late making up their minds in campaigns, owing to the fact that the state has no major television market of its own and coverage tends to be minimal among New York and Philadelphia outlets. But the survey found that 70 percent of voters are "solidly committed" to their candidate, with only 30 percent saying they could change their mind. Breaking those numbers down, Republicans tended to be more committed to their choice (81 percent), while more than a third of Democrats said they still could change their minds.

Christie is still unknown to a quarter of state voters, while Corzine maintains an upside-down favorability rating.

Favorability Ratings
Corzine 36/56
Christie 43/33

One promising sign for the incumbent: Corzine leads Christie 56-40 in the 201 area code. That zone covers most of Bergen County, which has proven to be the bellwether in state elections. Bergen is in the northeastern part of the state, home to many New York commuters.

The automated telephone survey of 1,094 likely voters was conducted June 27-29, and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

The next critical step in this race will come later this month, when the candidates must choose running mates. It's the first time in a New Jersey gubernatorial election where candidates will have a running mate, with the creation of a lieutenant governor position years ago.

NJ Gov Poll: Christie +12

Speaking of that New Jersey race ...

A new Strategic Vision (R) poll finds much the same as other polls: Gov. Jon Corzine is in deep trouble.

General Election Matchup
Christie 51
Corzine 39
Undecided 8

Corzine now trails Christie by 10.5 points in the RCP Average.

Corzine's job approval rating in the poll also remains the worst among state politicians.

Job Approval Rating
Corzine: 34/54
Menendez: 50/37
Lautenberg: 47/40
President Obama: 56/38

The survey also found that only 28 percent of voters say the state is on the right track, compared to 59 who say it's on the wrong track.

The telephone survey of 800 likely voters was conducted June 19-21, and had a margin of error of +/- 3 points.

Obama Expresses Confidence In Corzine

There's been some speculation that of the two gubernatorial contests being waged this year, the White House sees New Jersey's as a riskier bet, with Gov. Jon Corzine's (D) approval ratings near all-time lows. Today, however, President Obama himself expressed his support for his former Senate colleague, the Star-Ledger reports.

"I think very highly of Jon Corzine. I think he's a terrific public servant," the president said during a White House interview with a handful of newspaper reporters from around the country. "I'm confident that he can win re-election. I don't think it's surprising that he may have a significant challenge."

Obama called Corzine a friend said he would help his campaign. But he "stopped short of saying what that assistance would entail."

Vice President Biden has already campaigned with Corzine, helping him kick off his general election campaign. The Corzine camp has said they are thrilled with the cooperation they've received from the White House, and look forward to personal visits this fall.

Corzine's opponent, meanwhile, will appear in Washington tomorrow at a hearing of the Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee, on "Accountability, Transparency, and Uniformity in Corporate Deferred and Non-Prosecution Agreements." Chris Christie, the former U.S. attorney for New Jersey, has faced questions about a settlement he approved involving former Attorney General John Ashcroft.

RGA Targets "Wall Street Banker" Corzine In New TV Spot

The Republican Governors Association uses a potentially damaging label for Gov. Jon Corzine (D) in one of two new television ads the organization launched today. No, not "liberal." Three words, actually: "Wall Street Banker."

As the nation, and New Jersey in particular continue to suffer in the tough economy, the national committee evokes the embattled incumbent's roots as an executive for Goldman Sachs while saying he's failed to meet his promise to bring jobs to the state.

"Wall Street banker Jon Corzine told us he'd bring jobs to New Jersey. Hello? Unemployment's up 73 percent, and our business climate ranks among the worst in the nation. Corzine: watch what he does, not what he says," a narrator says in the brief spot.

The organization wouldn't say in what markets the spots will air, or whether it would be on cable or network television as well. But an official promised New Jerseyans were likely to see it on the air soon.

The "watch what he does" tag line is repeated in a second ad the RGA is airing, this one on the issue of taxes. You can see the ad and the script after the jump.

Continue reading "RGA Targets "Wall Street Banker" Corzine In New TV Spot" »

NJ Gov Poll: Corzine Disapproval Hits All-Time High

The latest poll in the New Jersey gubernatorial race brings more bad news for Gov. Jon Corzine (D), who sees his disapproval rating hit a new high as the general election campaign begins. Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) enjoys a 10-point lead among likely voters in Quinnipiac's first survey since the June 2 primary.

General Election Matchup (Likely Voters)
Christie 50
Corzine 40
Undecided 9

Among registered voters, there was only a slight change in polling trends. Christie had led 45-38 in a May 30 survey, and now has ticked up to a 46-37 lead. Polls show that Garden State voters still are not very familiar with the Republican.

Favorability Ratings
Christie 36 / 16 (46 haven't heard enough)
Corzine 35 / 53

Only 36 percent of New Jersey voters approve of how Corzine is handling his job, while 56 disapprove. Corzine has never been particularly popular, though; his high-water mark was 51 percent, in April 2007. President Obama is the only Democrat polling well in the state.

Job Approval
Corzine 36 / 56
Lautenberg 44 / 36
Menendez 40 / 31
Obama 68 / 25

Only 37 percent of voters think Corzine deserves to be re-elected, and 52 percent think things in the state have gotten worse since he took office. The survey was conducted from June 3-8, of 1,338 registered voters, and has a margin of error of +/- 2.7 percent.

NJ Gov: First Post-Primary Poll Shows Christie +13

Fresh off his primary victory Tuesday night, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) boasts a double-digit lead over Gov. Jon Corzine (D), according to a new Rasmussen poll released today. He now surpasses the 50 percent threshold, after falling just short in a poll last month before he won the nomination.

General Election Matchup
Christie 51 (+4 from 5/12)
Corzine 38 (unch)
Undecided 6 (-3)

Job Approval:
Obama 60/40
Corzine 42/58

Another big warning sign for Corzine: 41 percent of voters strongly disapprove of his job performance, and 37 percent have a "very unfavorable" opinion of him.

Corzine 41/58
Christie 56/35

The poll finds that by double-digit margins, New Jersey voters favor Christie over the incumbent when it comes to taxes (+15), cutting government spending (+23) and fighting corruption (+27). But when asked who they think will win the election, respondents had an interesting response: 43 percent said Christie, while 41 percent said Corzine.

The poll was conducted June 3, surveying 500 likely voters, and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percent.

Christie Says Corzine Is "A Good Man, But A Bad Governor"

Accepting his party's nomination after what was a tougher primary fight than perhaps expected, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie eagerly looked ahead to his general election fight against Gov. Jon Corzine, who he said was "well intentioned," but "simply wrong for the job."

"He wakes up every morning thinking about what new government programs he can create, how many new government employees he can put on the payroll and how he can raise taxes to pay for the government of his dreams. I will be a very different governor," Christie said.

The Republican said he wants to focus on making Trenton "smaller, smarter and more efficient," and to bring businesses to our state. "And most important, how do we give tax money back to New Jerseyans, and not raise taxes every year."

Christie criticized not just Corzine's policies but his politics, specifically the $100 million in personal funds he said the senator-turned-governor spent on "negative, personal smear ads," and even tried to get Steve Lonegan elected in the primary over him. "Here's a message for you, Gov. Corzine: I'm still standing here," Christie said.

The new nominee closed by giving what he said was a sneak peak of Corzine's strategy in the general election.

"First, he's going to call me a Republican. Well I think that cat's out of the bag," he said.

He also said he'd "try to manufacture scandal where none exists." Both Lonegan and Democratic interest groups have raised ethical questions about a number of circumstances. "But remember this," Christie added. "This is the same Jon Corzine who endorsed me for U.S. Attorney and endorsed everything I did over the last seven years."

He closed by targeting "special interests" that he said won't go without a fight, and said that to change Trenton, New Jersey needs to change governors.

New Wrinkle In NJ Politics: Who Will The Running Mates Be?

The nominations have now been settled, but there's a new wrinkle in New Jersey politics that Jon Corzine and Chris Christie face in the weeks ahead: who will their running mates be?

For years, the Garden State was one of the few in the country without a lieutenant governor position. When a vacancy occurred in the governorship, the powers fell to the president of the State Senate, who then served in both posts.

And that happened often in the past decade, starting when Christie Todd Whitman left to join the Bush administration, and then again when Jim McGreevey resigned in disgrace. In that instance, Dick Codey served as both the top official in the legislature and the powerful governor of the state for more than a year.

New Jersey voters approved a constitutional amendment to create the lieutenant governor position, starting with the 2009 elections. A number of names have been floated for both candidates, with many looking at the same considerations that Barack Obama and John McCain did last year.

Here's what Christie told me about how he'd approach the decision in an interview earlier this year:

"I have four things I'll be looking for. The first is, someone who's compatible with me on the issues. The second is, someone who is prepared to be governor right now. Third is someone who is personally compatible with me. I want to have this person as a partner, if I don't like them, I won't have them as a partner. And the fourth thing is to make sure that this person has some relevant experience. It doesn't have to be in government necessarily. But some type of relevant experience to show that they know how to lead. Leadership is very important and often overlooked.

"How will it affect the race? I got to tell you, I don't think that the second choice often affects a race all that much. I don't think people say, well I don't like the guy running for governor but I like the person for lieutenant governor, so I'll vote for him and hope he dies. I don't think people typically do that. What it tells you about someone is how they make decisions, and what they think are important. And I think that's the only way it'll effect the race."

National Parties Weigh In On NJ Results

From the Republican Governors Association, which has already been active with anti-Corzine efforts:

"Chris Christie is a proven reformer who will fight for lower taxes and will work hard to make New Jersey's economy competitive again," said RGA Chairman Governor Mark Sanford. "Chris's dedication to serving the citizens of New Jersey and impeccable record as a prosecutor has won him the respect of Republican governors across the nation."

"Chris Christie understands that New Jersey's taxpayers can't afford Jon Corzine's $1 billion tax hike," added RGA executive director Nick Ayers. "Tonight, Christie also showed that Jon Corzine and his special interest friends won't be able to buy the election."

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine:

"I am proud, on behalf of the Democratic Party, to voice my enthusiastic and unqualified support for my friend and fellow Governor Jon Corzine in his bid for reelection. Governor Corzine is a dedicated public servant, a fierce advocate for the people of New Jersey and he represents the type of forward thinking and bold decision making New Jersey needs.

"These are difficult times, we need leaders like Jon Corzine who can bring people together and make the tough decisions that need to be made to make New Jersey and our country stronger. There is no one better prepared to lead New Jersey during these tough times than Gov. Corzine. As Governor he has created a strong economic recovery plan designed to retain and attract business and to create jobs by investing in education and infrastructure projects that are vital to New Jersey's future."

"Jon Corzine is a fighter. President Obama needs strong and experienced leaders like Jon Corzine partnering with him in states across the country as we all work to get our economy back on track."

More after the jump:

Continue reading "National Parties Weigh In On NJ Results" »

AP Calls GOP Primary For Christie

Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who state and national Republicans consider to be the most formidable general election candidate to face Gov. Jon Corzine (D), has won the New Jersey gubernatorial primary, AP says.

Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R) is now conceding the race at his campaign headquarters.

"The voters have spoken," he said.

Corzine Kicks Off Campaign, Tying GOP To Bush

President Bush has been out of office for months. But Gov. Jon Corzine (D) invoked his name and his administration's legacy early and often as he kicked off his re-election bid tonight.

With the result in the Republican primary still undecided, Corzine simply referred to his "opponents" in general, saying they're all talk.

"Our opponents promise the moon. They want to cut government, increase spending, slash taxes and balance the budget," he said. "They just say we should trust them. Well I don't know about you, but I'm not about to put my trust in the same people who gave us George W. Bush, Dick Cheney or John Ashcroft."

The odd reference to Ashcroft is a vague reference that refers to an alleged kickback scheme involving Chris Christie, who at this point is leading in the GOP race.

"America doesn't need to be Bushwhacked again. New Jersey cannot afford to get Bushwhacked again!" Corzine boomed.

Corzine then touted his administration's accomplishments in cutting state spending and reforming government as he argued repeatedly that "Republicans talk, Democrats deliver."

"They say that government should be small -- small enough to slip under your bedroom door. Small enough to root for a new president to fail. Small enough to divide us by gender and ethnicity over a Supreme Court nominee. And self-righteous enough to dictate their own religious beliefs to the rest of us on stem cell research, family planning and even science," he continued.

Corzine said that he's been willing to make the tough decisions, and that he was confident voters will acknowledge that. And a popular president can't hurt, either.

"Now with a partner in the White House, there is no limit to what we can achieve," he said.

Biden Calls Corzine "America's Governor"

Joe Biden praised Jon Corzine as "America's governor," as the vice president sought to give the embattled incumbent a boost heading into the general election.

"No one's ever doubted that I mean what I said, and sometimes I say more than I should," the loquacious former senator from neighboring Delaware said. "But the truth of the matter is, I have a very simple, straightforward message. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to Jon Corzine's re-election."

Biden, speaking at Corzine's election-night rally in West Orange, said that the nation needs New Jersey to once again be "one of the great engines of economic recovery," and said that can only happen if Corzine is re-elected.

Clearly, a link to the popular president is a main part of Corzine's strategy in blue New Jersey. His perilous status this November was reflected in the vice president's remarks, as he noted that a major recession "the likes of which we haven't seen since the Great Depression," has tremendous impact on states like yours.

"In tough times, it takes a special character to have the courage of your convictions and the stubborn certainty to do all that's necessary, even when it's not popular. Jon Corzine and Barack Obama both have that special character," Biden said.

Biden heaped praise on his former colleague in the Senate, and said that his first call after being elected last fall was to Corzine, who he said is one of the smartest guys on the economy. He added that when the administration was considering a $300 billion stimulus plan, it was Corzine who said it needed to be bigger. He also said much of the recovery plan mirrored steps that Corzine had already started taking in the Garden State.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is not just a governor for New Jersey. This is America's governor," he said. "This is a guy who had the foresight to understand what's needed."

NJ Gov: Christie Posts Strong Early Lead

At 9 pm, 15 percent of the votes have been counted in the Republican primary. Chris Christie is off to a promising start, leading Steve Lonegan by 9,000 votes.

NJ Gov: Light Turnout, Heavy Traffic

The polls have just closed in the Garden State, and results are only beginning to trickle in. Here are some headlines to catch you up on today's activity:

*Things appeared "to be going smoothly at polling places" around the state today, "as light voter turnout is keeping things manageable," AP reports.

*All three Republican candidate said they didn't encounter any problems either, the Star-Ledger says. Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien: "We have our people at the polls, checking for problems. But so far, thank goodness, no irregularities that we are finding.'

*Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan said at a diner (where else?): "Turnout's low, but you never know. People are looking seriously at electability. It's in the hands of the election gods, but I feel confident. We have a phenomenal grassroots organization."

*All day, Lonegan used Twitter to get supporters to recruit more voters to get to the polls.

*Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie ran into supporters, and some Democrats as he campaigned at a train station in Morristown, the Star-Ledger reports. Looking back at the primary race, he said: "There were no surprises. Especially as I rose in the polls, I expected it."

*The Lincoln Tunnel, the New Jersey Turnpike and Route 280 were shut down for 30 minutes during rush hour traffic so that Vice President Biden's motorcade could travel from New York City to West Orange, N.J. He's speaking there now at a Corzine rally.

*Corzine has already been called the winner of the Democratic primary. Believe it or not, he's the first Democrat in 16 years to be renominated for a second term as governor.

*10 independent candidates filed to run for governor against Corzine and the GOP nominee.

NJ Gov Poll: Christie Leads Corzine

On the heels of a Rasmussen poll showing him leading in the June 2 Republican primary, a Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll out today finds New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie ahead of Gov. Jon Corzine (D) in a potential general election matchup (May 25-27, 600 LV, +/- 4%).

With 55% of voters holding an unfavorable opinion of Corzine, Christie holds a 46%-39% lead. Close to half of voters hold no opinion of Christie, while two-thirds don't know enough about his primary opponent, Steve Lonegan -- who leads Corzine by 3 points.

NJ Gov: Lonegan Hits Romney For Christie Endorsement

Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, who is counting on strong conservative support in his effort to win the GOP nomination for governor, took a swipe at former and potentially future presidential candidate Mitt Romney for endorsing his opponent, Chris Christie.

"Mitt Romney was rejected by Republican Primary voters because he was a moderate trying to pass himself off as a conservative just in time to win an election. Chris Christie has done the exact same thing in this race, so it follows that Romney would back him," he says in a statement.

"This is a case of one fraudulent moderate trying to help another one. Republican voters will see through Chris Christie the same way they did Mitt Romney last February."

Polls have consistently shown Christie ahead in the primary, but that Lonegan has a stronger base of support among more conservative voters. These voters, the campaign argues, are more likely to show up at the polls next Tuesday, and overcome Christie's support among the party establishment.

Dueling National Endorsements In N.J. Primary

Mitt Romney, who has done some campaigning in Virginia this week, head to New Jersey tomorrow where he will endorse Chris Christie in the Republican primary for governor. Christie is considered the more moderate candidate in what is basically a two-candidate race.

Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, meanwhile, today touts the support of Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, as his campaign attacks Christie on illegal immigrants. "As Governor, Steve Lonegan will stop the coddling of illegal aliens under Corzine and Christie that has made New Jersey an illegal alien sanctuary," Gilchrist says in a statement.

Gilchrist also notes that Christie has been supported by another former presidential candidate, Rudy Giuliani, "who made New York City one of the first places in the country to grant illegal aliens 'sanctuary' status," he adds.

The primary is next Tuesday, June 2.

NJ Gov: Christie Takes On Corzine In New TV Ad

With recent polls showing that Chris Christie is poised to avoid a scare in the Republican primary, his campaign signals today that it's shifting focus back to the Democratic incumbent in the New Jersey gubernatorial contest.

Christie's camp released this tough new television ad today, taking direct aim at Gov. Jon Corzine (D) for using his personal wealth to get elected, "attacking everyone in his path."

"Spend enough on negative ads, and maybe we'll ignore the governor's record of high taxes, tremendous debt, and failed leadership," the former U.S. attorney says. Christie promises to cut taxes and grow the economy to "make New Jersey affordable again."

"Want to change Trenton? Let's start by changing governors," he concludes.

Corzine launched his first TV ads last week. The primary is June 2.

NJ Gov: Second Poll Shows Christie Ahead

Monmouth University also has a New Jersey gubernatorial poll out today which reinforces Chris Christie's frontrunner status in the Republican primary.

Primary Election Matchup
Christie 50
Lonegan 32
Merkt 2
Undecided 16

One cautionary note in what could be a low-turnout race, however: Lonegan has a strong edge among voters who describe themselves as "strongly conservative" (51-36) and "conservative" (56-28). And 47 percent of likely primary voters considered Christie a moderate, while 35 percent said conservative and 5 percent said liberal. Lonegan was seen as conservative by 56 percent, compared to 21 percent who said moderate.

The survey also finds that most voters seen Christie as the more electable candidate in the general election, with more than two-thirds saying he can beat Gov. Jon Corzine, Only 39% say Lonegan can win in November.

The telephone survey was conducted May 13-18 of 706 likely primary voters, and had a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent.

NJ Gov: Christie Surges Ahead In GOP Primary

Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie appears to have regained the momentum in the Republican gubernatorial primary in New Jersey, according to a new Quinnipiac Poll.

Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan appeared to have narrowed the gap considerably in recent weeks, but several debates and a more direct campaign by Christie against his Republican rival puts him in more comfortable position with less than two weeks to go before the primary election.

Primary Election Matchup
Christie 56 (+10 from 4/22)
Lonegan 33 (-4)
Merkt 2

Gov. Jon Corzine (D), who faces no serious opposition in the Democratic primary, still trails both Republicans in general election matchups. The incumbent can take heart, at least, that his numbers have remained steady for several months now.

General Election Matchups
Christie 45 (unch from 4/22)
Corzine 38 (unch)
Undecided 13

Lonegan 42 (-1 from 4/22)
Corzine 40 (+1)

Both Republicans remain fairly unknown quantities statewide, while Corzine maintains an upside-down favorability and job approval rating.

Christie 33/11
Lonegan 19/11
Corzine 37/51

Corzine Job Approval
Corzine 38/53 (37/54 on 4/22).

The survey finds that President Obama's approval rating in the state is 67 percent, with 27 percent disapproving. Corzine is likely to tie himself the popular administration whenever possible, and in fact will welcome Vice President Biden to the state when he kicks off his re-election campaign officially on primary election night.

NJ Gov: Corzine Starts Making His Case On Air

Over at the RCP Blog I wrote about a new poll that shows a very fluid race still for the GOP nomination for governor in New Jersey. Well, it appears that Gov. Jon Corzine (D) isn't waiting to see who his opponent is before taking to the airwaves.

His campaign e-mailed supporters to preview two 30-second spots, both putting a positive spin on the work he's done in the first term to support the economy and education. "Got It" touts Corzine as having been the author of the "nation's first economic recovery plan," while claiming he cut $5 billion in state spending. The other ad, "Children," features Corzine himself speaking about money he's directed toward education and health care, even as the overall budget has been cut.

Both ads end with the tag line, "Governor Corzine: Working every day to keep New Jersey working." You can see both after the jump.

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Biden To Help Corzine Kick Off Re-Election Campaign

NJ Gov. Jon Corzine, who faces an uphill battle in his bid for re-election this November, is getting an assist from Vice President Biden as he prepares to formally kick off his campaign.

In an e-mail to supporters, Corzine invites recipients to join him and his former Senate colleague on the night of the state primary, June 2. The event will be held at the Codey Arena in South Orange, a venue named after the state Senate president and former governor.

The e-mail makes clear that Corzine intends to use the popularity of the Democratic administration to his advantage this fall.

"I share the President and Vice President's vision for what America can become once again. In fact, I have been working for the last four years to move New Jersey in that new direction," Corzine writes. "We've made a lot of progress, but, together, we can do even more."

The vice president just appeared with Corzine in New Jersey last week for an event to highlight the effect of the Recovery Act in the Garden State.

Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan and former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie are battling for the Republican nomination to be decided that night.

Corzine: I'm Going to Run

New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) told Andrea Mitchell this afternoon on MSNBC that he will indeed run for governor this year.

"I am going to be running," Corzine said. "I think that's the first time I've said that on television, so you're breaking news. Although, everybody knows that we filed our papers in front of the primary deadline. We're actively pursuing building our organization and preparing to run."

A Monmouth/Gannett poll out today finds Corzine trailing former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie by 4 points -- the latest in a long run of disappointing numbers for Corzine.

The governor said property taxes, a local issue in the state, were a drag on his numbers there, and that the nation's dismal economy hurts most incumbents around the country.

"It is a time when people are very uncomfortable, and if you're in office, some of that is going to rub off on the incumbent," Corzine said. "I am quite hopeful that working as a partner with the White House, we'll be able to see some of that change come about here in New Jersey, and we'll see a better outcome in November in those polls."

NJ Gov: Lonegan Claims Dead Heat In GOP Primary

Poll after poll has shown that Gov. Jon Corzine is vulnerable to defeat as he seeks re-election this fall. But now, observers are watching what seems to be an increasingly competitive battle for the Republican Party nomination.

Today, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan's campaign released a poll that shows former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, the presumed favorite, with a "statistically insignificant" lead, 36.1-34.5. Among voters considered most likely to vote, Lonegan actually leads Christie head-to-head, though polling with a third candidate still has Christie narrowly ahead.

In a memo, Lonegan campaign manager Rick Shaftan says that the primary electorate is "very conservative," and that a majority of those voters identify Christie as moderate or liberal. "Those voters who see Christie as moderate or liberal are supporting Lonegan by a 49-36 margin while those who see Lonegan as a conservative back him by 54-26," Shaftan points out.

Christie has won the support of most county Republican organizations and is backed by the Republican Governors Association. But only eight years ago, conservative Jersey City Mayor Brett Schundler defeated the establishment favorite, Rep. Bob Franks, in that year's primary.

Primary Election Matchup
Christie 36.1 (-7 from March)
Lonegan 34.5 (+13)
Merkt 0.4
Undecided 29

A Quinnipiac Poll released last week showed Christie with a 9-point lead over Lonegan.

Lonegan's poll was conducted by Neighborhood Research, surveying 687 Republicans between April 19 and 24. The margin of error was +/- 3.74 percent.

NJ Gov: Christie Launches First TV Ad (Updated)

Chris Christie has launched his first TV ad of the New Jersey gubernatorial race this morning, which plays up his experience as U.S. Attorney and pledges to fix a broken state.

It's partly a biographical ad, but rather than warm and fuzzy, there's a "Law & Order" feel to the narration and music -- perhaps fitting the tough image the campaign tries to project.

"As US Attorney Chris Christie went after corrupt politicians," the narrator says. "He tracked down child pornographers across the globe, and prosecuted corrupt business executives. Today, Chris Christie runs for Governor."

Though he still has a Republican primary to get through, Christie targets Gov. Jon Corzine's tax policy in the ad. Taxes will likely be one of the top issue in the campaign. It does not mention that Christie is a Republican, saying instead that he'll fix New Jersey "just as he did as US Attorney, with leadership, independence, determination."

It's still early in the campaign, but the spot comes later than the first ad of the 2005 campaign did. Then, businessman Doug Forrester actually went on the air in November of 2004. But that year, the Republican primary was a bit more crowded and competitive.

UPDATE: The campaign says the ad will air in both the New York and Philadelphia markets -- expensive turf, which makes any campaign in the Garden State difficult. The campaign says that with strong fundraising, it is right on track with when it planned to go on TV.

Here's the ad; full script after the jump.

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New Jersey, Virginia Dems Staring History In The Face

New polling suggests that New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine faces a difficult challenge for re-election this year. A Monmouth University poll released last week shows that just 34% of Garden State voters approve of the job Corzine is doing, compared to 51% who disapprove. Another recent survey shows that Republican Chris Christie, who as the state's hard-charging U.S. attorney has pursued a number of high-profile corruption cases, is leading the Democrat 44% to 38%.

In Virginia, the only other state holding a gubernatorial election this year, Democrats face an uphill battle against former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell. A Rasmussen survey conducted on Feb. 4 had McDonnell leading each of his three potential rivals, state Sen. Creigh Deeds, former state Delegate Brian Moran and former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe. None is as well known statewide as McDonnell, who will watch from the sidelines until the Democratic primary on June 9.

Circumstances in both states could certainly change by November. But more than the strength of Republican candidates, there's a unique historical pattern that should have Democrats concerned. Since 1989, the party that has controlled the White House has lost gubernatorial elections in each state (the trend goes back further in Virginia, to 1977).

In 1989, George H.W. Bush's first year as president, New Jersey's Jim Florio and Virginia's Doug Wilder won their respective races. Republicans took back the offices in the two following elections, as Democrat Bill Clinton served in the White House. But the pendulum swung again in 2001 and 2005, when George W. Bush served as president.

Strategists in both national parties typically pay additional attention to these contests every four years. With only a handful of elections scheduled in the "off-year," these two key gubernatorial contests are often spun as a measure of the parties' strength heading into midterm election years.

Control of the state offices is considered an even greater priority in the coming years because of the role governors will play in shaping redistricting decisions after the 2010 census.

No Dobbs In NJ

Despite rumors to the contrary, CNN anchor Lou Dobbs said Friday he will not run for governor of his home state of New Jersey, the Associated Press reported. Some Republicans in the Garden State and in Washington had been buzzing in recent weeks about the possibility of Dobbs taking on incumbent Governor Jon Corzine, who will run for re-election in 2009.

Dobbs' sometimes harsh populism and anti-immigration rhetoric might have given Corzine a difficult opponent, one who would certainly be well-funded and have a solid name-recognition base because of his television and radio programs. Dobbs has a farm in Sussex County, in the northern part of the state.

Other New Jersey Republicans mentioned for a potential governor's bid include U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, conservative activist Steve Lonegan and Morris County Freeholder John Murphy. Each would have a difficult time keeping up with Corzine financially, though they may be tempted given his flagging popularity in the state. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted earlier this month showed just 38% said they approved of Corzine's handling of the state, while 52% disapproved.

The direction of the state is not a major positive, either. Just 32% say they are satisfied with the direction in which New Jersey is headed, while 68% say they are dissatisfied. 39% think the state has gotten worse under Corzine's management, while only 10% say things have gotten better. The number of people who think things have gotten worse has been on the rise since February of 2007, when just 15% said the same thing.

With numbers that low, it's little wonder Republicans are taking an active interest in the race. But at least for now, it looks like the party will have to get along without Lou Dobbs heading the ticket. Actually, given Dobbs' bombastic style, that may be better for the party in the long run.

Dobbs For Governor?

After seriously pondering an independent bid for president, CNN's bombastic immigration hardliner and defender of the middle class Lou Dobbs has set his sights slightly lower and is considering a run for New Jersey Governor as a Republican, well-connected sources tell the Newark Star-Ledger. Dobbs, a Garden State resident, would neither confirm nor deny the plans.

The rumors are running around GOP fundraising circles from New York to Washington, state Republican Party chairman Tom Wilson told the Star-Ledger. Not everyone is thrilled with the idea, though. National Committee member David Norcross told the paper Dobbs should keep his day job: "He ought to just stick to raising hell on issues on his TV show and leave New Jersey alone."

New Jersey, one of just two states that holds its gubernatorial elections the year after a presidential contest, has not elected a Republican governor since 1997, when Christie Todd Whitman won a second term. In 2005, Jon Corzine spent millions of his own dollars to win a 53%-43% victory; the former chairman of Goldman Sachs had put somewhere north of $100 million on successful runs for the Senate and governor's office this decade.

Dobbs, who laments the disappearance of the American middle class dressed in three-piece suits and lunches on $56 Dover sole, hosts a radio show alongside his television gig, and he could have a serious shot at taking the seat. Opinion polls have consistently shown Corzine's approval rating in the dumps, while his disapproval rating soars.

Still, Corzine has started raising money for his 2009 re-election bid, and given his history of personal contributions, Dobbs -- or any Republican -- will have to prepare their own major cash onslaught. In 2005, Corzine's Republican opponent, businessman Doug Forrester, spent $10 million of his own money on the race.