Will New Jersey Prefigure Obama’s (and Republicans’) Futures?

By Jon Kraushar
Communications Consultant

Is New Jersey’s 2009 governor’s race, pitting incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine against Republican Chris Christie, a foreshadowing of the future for President Obama and Republican challengers?

Like Obama, Corzine:

  • Moved from a legislator’s job as a U.S. senator to a chief executive’s job, with a mandate to turn around a disastrous economic situation.
  • Linked his opponent to President George W. Bush and continues to blame the Bush administration for anything and everything while claiming disputable accomplishments by Democrats.
  • Indulged public employees’ unions and organized labor, lavishly rewarding them with taxpayers’ money.
  • Promised economic development through government-supported “green” businesses.
  • Envisioned public-private partnerships that would yield jobs and growth.
  • Pledged to hack away at wasteful government spending.
  • Enjoyed a Democratic majority to carry forward his agenda.
  • Campaigned to expand the role of government in health care, education, energy and the environment.

In Corzine’s case, his efforts have hardly made the Garden State bloom. As The Wall Street Journal points out, in New Jersey, “…spending, taxes and debt all keep rising. According to the Tax Foundation, New Jersey had the highest local-state tax burden in the country last year, and it was the ‘least business-friendly’ state in the country.” New Jersey ranks third highest nationally in losing population and, increasingly, more of its wealthiest citizens—tired of being treated like ATMs by the government—are relocating to states with lower taxes.

New Jersey’s government is virtually bankrupt and Corzine is struggling, with an approval rating of about 40 percent—this in a state that is one of the most “blue” (Democratic) in the country. Corzine and Obama are close allies, both as prior members of “the world’s most exclusive club”—former U.S. Senators—and as “progressives” (Big Government liberals). Corzine is relying on Obama to campaign vigorously for him.

Christie is a former U.S. Attorney who made his reputation convicting over 100 corrupt Democrats andRepublicans. If he can sell a reform agenda that convinces voters he can relieve the state’s taxation and economic crises while he also comes across as likable, Christie just might win over enough disgruntled Democrats and Independents to beat Corzine.

In his primary night victory speech, Christie said, “You no longer want a governor who will promise and then disappoint. You just want someone that will tell the truth about the road ahead. So I will. The road ahead will not be easy. It will be filled with tough choices and sacrifice. But I know if we get back to the basics that have always made us great, that we can restore for people the hope and the faith and the trust that we want in our government.”

In the 2010 mid-term elections, take Christie’s first sentence and slightly adjust it to read, “You no longer want a president who will promise and then disappoint.” Rephrased that way with the rest of Christie’s statement, you just might have a preview of the Republican script for the 2010 elections ifObama’s economic recovery efforts go the way of Corzine’s.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if only a year from now Republicans are resurgent by running against the record of the opposing party’s president, stealing Obama’s and the Democrats’ playbook from 2008?

In politics, history has a way of reversing itself on the way to repeating itself.

Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net.

The thing that worries me about my home state———-yes, I am a proud “Jersey boy”, is the shift in thinking with the influx of New Yorkers wich begain in the late 90’s. Although Northeast N.J. is  heavily Democratic in such predominately urban counties such as Hudson, Essex, and Union, as well as the Southwest county of Camden and Mercer in the west central area, most of N.J. is more Republican.

Since this influx, N.J. has only elected Democrats as Govenor…..and the debt has been growing. Unfortunately, N.J.has had a sad history of corrupt Democrats who treated the population as there “serfs” rather then their “employers”. I grew up with my elders telling me things like “the walls have ears” . Meaning that there were people who would mention anything, said by a naive 8 or 9 year old, to their Democratic bosses, so members of his or her family would be punished. That punishment usually meant loss of their job.

It was not only safe to be a Democrat but, you had to support the “right Democrat”. If not,  there was a punishment that would be invoked. I saw members of my family, literally, looking over their shoulders worrying who was listening to any conversation that involved local politics. NOBODY, in my family had the luxury of supporting,  publicly, anybody in politics. No campaign buttons, signs, bumper stickers, etc. It just was too politically “dangerous”.

The end finally came when a United States Prosecutor, Herbert J. Stern, took them on (the “Machine”) and won. He successfully prosecuted the mayors of Jersey City, Newark, and Atlantic City. The Democratic “Machine” was finally broken up when their “Godfather”, if you will, John V. Kenny, the Hudson County Democratic “Boss” was also indicted. Along with him,  Jersey City Mayor Thomas J. Whalen and former City Council president Thomas Flaherty, were indicted for conspiracy and extortion in a multi-million dollar political kickback scheme on city and county contracts.

Growing up in that situation, left me seeking for something else, politically speaking. My epiphany came the day I heard Ronald Wilson Reagan say, I should be proud to be an American and here is why…… He then proceeded to show me  all the good things this country has done for, over, 200 years and how it can be even better. I never looked back. I became a Republican, a “Reagan Republican”.

My time growing up in N.J. never left me. Even as I have travelled half way around the world. My hope is, my beloved home state will NOT fall back in to that quagmire known as the “Democratic Machine”. Unfortunately, it has been in Democratic hands again. AND……… as expected, the Democrats, once again, embarrassed New Jersey.  Gov. Jim McGreevy decides to have a homosexual affair with an Israeli extortion artist while in the Governor’s mansion and resigns office. N.J. elects Sen Jon Corzine, who looks like Karl Marx, and who’s policies aren’t much different. He has N.J. of the brink of bankruptcy.

Guess nothing much has changed………………………………..

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