Corruption Arrests Could Be Final Nail in Corzine Coffin


corzineThe legal effects of the dozens of corruption arrests in New Jersey may not be known for a while, but the political fallout could play a big role in November. The scandal may prove to be a tough opponent for Governor Jon Corzine in his bid for re-election. Gov. Corzine pushed forward with the hard work of campaigning today, after announcing his choice as running mate – reform-minded State Senator Loretta Weinberg – and opening a campaign field office in Passaic County. But following him everywhere is a perception that Thursday’s arrests of 44 people, including several Democrat state office holders, in a massive corruption sting has possibly dealt his campaign against Republican challenger Chris Christie a fatal blow.”To say that it doesn’t hurt the governor when so many of them are Democrats – even though the governor is in no way directly involved – is ridiculous,” CBS 2 political blogger Steve Adubato said. “And Chris Christie is the Eliot Ness of New Jersey politics. Clearly this helps him, when he’s ahead already.”

For the last several days, the governor has been forced to answer questions about the scandal, insisting that it’s not politically fatal.

“I’ve been in office three years, and the conviction rate – 199 corruption cases,” Corzine said. “My attorney general is more aggressive than the US Attorney on many, many fronts.”

But Christie, who was the US Attorney when the investigation leading to Thursday’s arrests began, has touted his corruption-busting record.

“As US Attorney, Chris Christie led the war on public corruption,” according to a Christie campaign ad.

The governor, on the defensive and trailing in the polls, is trying to jump-start enthusiasm for his campaign.

“I think people know what I’m working on,” Corzine said. “That’s the economy, education, those things that are important to the people’s life.”

“Three months is a lifetime in politics, and the governor could still win this thing, but he has an incredibly uphill fight,” Adubato said.

For Governor Corzine, the political challenge now is to try to change the subject away from the corruption scandal and to stay with his message. He also needs to hope that, with more than three months to election day, that time can begin to heal his political wounds.

Christie did not make any public statements Saturday. A spokesman referred CBS 2 to Christie’s comments from Thursday, when he said that a culture of corruption exists in New Jersey and there’s still much work to be done.

{WCBS-TV/Noam Newscenter}