NJ Governor’s Race Goes Down To The Wire


corzine-christie-daggettVoters in New Jersey, a state battered by high taxes and scarred by government corruption, had their pick in a tight governor’s race today among an unpopular incumbent who had help from President Barack Obama, a blunt-talking former prosecutor who vowed to rein in taxes and a third-party candidate looking to capitalize on a disillusioned electorate.Obama endorsed Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine in five campaign appearances, including a rally in the state’s largest city on Sunday, two days before the election.

Corzine faces a strong challenge from Republican Chris Christie, who has campaigned on a platform of smaller government but has been criticized for ethical lapses.

The race was a tossup heading into Election Day.

Independent Chris Daggett, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, could play spoiler; both campaigns have complained that he is siphoning voters away from them, Christie more so.

He performed well in the first debate, scored points for his plan to expand the sales tax base and has polled as high as 20 percent, a good showing for an independent candidate.

The only other governor’s race this year is in Virginia, where the Republican held a comfortable lead.

New Jersey voters haven’t elected a Republican statewide in a dozen years, and a Christie victory would sting the president heading into next year’s midterm elections. Obama carried New Jersey by 15 percentage points last year with 2.2 million votes, about the total number expected to be cast Tuesday.

The president made the case for Corzine over the weekend, urging 11,000 supporters in Newark to show the commitment to the incumbent they showed Obama last year. But many voters are disenchanted with Corzine, a former Goldman Sachs CEO who failed to deliver property tax relief to the middle-class.

He froze property taxes for senior citizens and provided rebates for low-income residents, but taxes remain stubbornly high — averaging $7,045 per household.

Christie has been criticized for remaining vague about how he would solve the state’s chronic financial problems. There were also revelations that he lent money to a subordinate and failed to report the loan.

Corzine and Christie have crisscrossed the state in recent days, making a final appeal for votes. The biggest unknown is whether Daggett supporters will stick with the long shot or vote for their second choice.

{Star Ledger/Matzav.com Newscenter}


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