June 3rd, 2009
09:46 AM ET
14 years ago

Game on in New Jersey

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/01/art.corzine.gi.jpg caption="New Jersey Republicans are battling to take on Democrat Jon Corzine."]

(CNN) - The campaign showdown is on in New Jersey, one of only two states holding gubernatorial contests this November.

Moderate Republican Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor, won the Republican primary battle Tuesday by double digits over more-conservative Steve Lonegan, a former three-term mayor and small business owner.

Christie will now face off against Governor Jon Corzine, the Democratic incumbent, who faced token opposition in his party's primary.

No Republican candidate has won statewide in New Jersey in 12 years, since former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman won re-election in 1997. But with Corzine struggling in the polls, the GOP hopes their losing streak will end this year.

Recent polls suggest that a majority of New Jersey voters disapprove of the job Corzine's doing as governor. Those surveys indicate that if the election were held today, he could lose to Christie.

"In a state where Republicans have fallen off the cliff, Christie has a serious shot at winning," says Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report.

The battle ahead between Christie and Corzine could be fierce - and most likely very expensive.

"This is a pricey state to run in, because of the state's two very expensive media markets, New York City and Philadelphia," adds Rothenberg.

And that could favor Corzine, who has deep pockets as well as the power of incumbency as he launches into a potentially pricey re-election bid. Corzine teamed up last night with Vice President Joe Biden at a general election kickoff rally in West Orange, New Jersey.

Republicans would dearly love to score a victory in New Jersey and Virginia, the other state holding a gubernatorial contest. In Virginia, the Democratic Governor, Tim Kaine, is term limited. The GOP hopes winning back a Democratic-held governorship in either New Jersey or Virginia, or both, would end the bleeding from 2006 and 2008, and launch Republicans towards victory in the 2010 midterm elections.

Filed under: Chris Christie • Jon Corzine • New Jersey
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