Friday, April 29, 2005
The Democratic candidate in this very blue state will be Senator Jon Corzine, who is willing to trade his very expensive first-term seat in the United States Senate for the opportunity to preside over the nest of vipers in Trenton. Corzine expects to spend another big wad to win Drumthwacket, but is trying to turn his wealth into an asset: his wealth, we are to believe, makes him uncorruptible, at least in the petty Sopranos sense of corruption:
Corzine said he will refuse campaign donations from people associated with firms that have state contracts. He will limit individual contributions to $500 - more than $2,000 lower than state law allows. And he said he would forgo public financing and pay for his effort largely out of his personal wealth, valued at $300 million.
"There might be a better way for the public to spend its money than financing someone who has the wherewithal to do it," Corzine said.
Well, there is no arguing with that.
Corzine has spent around $15 million of his own money for every year that he has served in the Senate, and now he is going to switch jobs. Why? Perhaps he calculates that as a liberal Senator from a blue state he can't really get anything done in Washington right now. Sure, like the rest of the Democrats in the Congress he can devote himself to frustrating Republicans, but that won't satisfy a guy like Corzine, who once ran the most powerful investment bank on Wall Street. Perhaps he has also learned from John Kerry's example that it is very difficult for a sitting Senator to become President. While he is unusual among Democratic politicians in that he has extensive experience as an executive, most voters won't give him credit for that until he has been a governor. This year is his shot.
The Republicans will nominate either Bret Schundler, the conservative former mayor of Jersey City, or Douglas Forrester, the choice of New Jersey's creaky Republican establishment. This is a choice not unlike Dean and Kerry last year -- Schundler is the choice of the faithful, but Forrester is the moderate who "can win."
Jersey blogger DynamoBuzz linked yesterday to the results of a new poll that show Forrester and Schundler neck and neck in the Republican primary race, even though most of the respondants admit that they have weak preferences. More interestingly, both Forrester and Schundler have narrowed the gap vs. Corzine significantly, trailing by only ten points, instead of the usual twenty or so. The question, of course, is whether this reflects a substantive improvement in Republican chances, or whether it is an artifact of the publicity around the forthcoming Republican primary. Unfortunately, I believe it is the latter.
Meanwhile, New Jersey's last elected governor, James McGreevey, continues to sink into the mire.
"Vipers in Trenton,,,"
The other day I heard a reporter describing the process by which business is done in the New York state legislature. There, someone wanting to do business with the state is well advised to retain someone from a group of "consultants," who often turns out to be related to a legislator.
The reporter remarked (and I'm paraphrasing), "It's not exactly Trenton, but it's bad."
Vipers, indeed, and they will surely be re-elected. Go figure.
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