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|Results by municipality|
|Results by municipality|
|Elections in New Jersey|
The New Jersey gubernatorial election of 2009 took place on November 3, 2009. Democratic Governor Jon Corzine was running for a second term and was being challenged by Republican Chris Christie, Independent Christopher Daggett and nine others, in addition to several write-in candidates. Christie won the election, with about 48.5 percent of the vote, to 44.9 percent for Corzine and 5.8 percent for Daggett. Christie won the largest margin for a first term Republican since 1969. Christie assumed office on January 19, 2010.
This was the first election to fill the newly created office of Lieutenant Governor. The candidates for governor and lieutenant governor were joined together as a single choice, so that voters did not have the opportunity to split the ticket. Kim Guadagno, Christie's running mate, became New Jersey's first lieutenant governor following her inauguration.
Although Corzine was unpopular among independents and Republicans, he polled much more highly among registered Democrats. His three opponents were former Glen Ridge mayor Carl Bergmanson, who ran on a platform of fiscal discipline, governmental reform, and removing the tolls on the Garden State Parkway, the New Jersey Turnpike and the Atlantic City Expressway; perennial candidate Jeff Boss; and businessman and former Congressional candidate Roger Bacon. A Quinnipiac poll conducted shortly before the primary and released on May 20, 2009 indicated that 65% of Democratic primary voters would vote for Corzine, with the other three candidates each receiving 4%–5%. Also, 62% of Democrats approved of him while 24% didn't.
On the primary election night, when Corzine accepted his party's nomination, Vice President Joe Biden campaigned for him, saying that he and President Barack Obama would help him get re-elected. Biden also characterized Corzine as "America's governor."
|Democratic primary results|
|Democratic||Jon S. Corzine||154,448||77.18%|
Lonegan disputed the nominating petitions of Brown, Keller and Levine, and administrative judges ruled that their petitions fell below the threshold of 1,000 valid signatures. As such, their names were removed from the primary ballot.
Most of the focus in the primary campaign was on the Republican contest between the front-runner, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who was heavily favored by the party establishment, and former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan. Both sides released numerous television and radio advertisements, as well as mailers to registered Republicans. Christie focused on his record of fighting corruption, while Lonegan emphasized his credentials as a lifelong conservative.
On April 1, Lonegan released the first attack ad of the 2009 campaign, and released another one on April 19. He accused Christie of ethically dubious awarding of no-bid monitor contracts during his tenure as U.S. attorney, described him as a moderate, and made other allegations. However, on April 24, Christie responded with a new 60 second radio ad noting that Lonegan has lost many elections in his career, including losing by a landslide to Steve Rothman for Congress in 1998 and finishing fourth (out of seven) in the Republican primary of the 2005 New Jersey Governor's race. He also claimed that Lonegan's "flat tax" plan, a crucial part of the candidate's platform which calls for applying the same income tax rate to everyone, "would raise taxes on almost 70 percent of New Jersey workers," and characterized Lonegan's previous attacks as "desperate."
Among those to endorse Christie in the primary were former New Jersey Governor Thomas Kean, Sr., businessman Steve Forbes, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. In addition, all county GOP organizations endorsed Christie, as did several New Jersey congressmen.
Joe the Plumber endorsed Lonegan and campaigned with him on May 5. On May 14, United States Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) sent out an email endorsing Lonegan and asking for donations to Lonegan's campaign. Economists Art Laffer and Peter Schiff also endorsed Lonegan, as did New Jersey General Assemblyman Michael J. Doherty.
Christie was declared the winner of the primary, defeating Lonegan by a margin of 55 to 42 percent. Lonegan immediately endorsed Christie, stating:
|“||It’s our job now, it’s your job now to change our focus on taking this Republican Party in a new direction. We must have one common cause, one cause. We need to beat Jon Corzine.||”|
Two state-sponsored televised debates were held before the primary. The first, on May 12, was broadcast on NJN, while the other, held on May 17, was broadcast on the New York television station WABC-TV. Both debates were between Christie and Lonegan. Because Merkt did not meet the fund-raising or spending thresholds set by the state, he was not allowed to participate. However, all three candidates were featured in two additional radio-only privately sponsored debates shortly before the primary.
|Candidate||Amount of money|
|Chris Christie||$3 million|
|Source||Dates Administered||Chris Christie||Steve Lonegan||Richard Merkt||Difference between two top candidates|
|Rasmussen Reports||May 27, 2009||46%||35%||4%||11%|
|Monmouth University||May 20, 2009||50%||32%||2%||18%|
|Rasmussen Reports||May 13, 2009||39%||29%||3%||10%|
|Quinnipiac University||April 4–20, 2009||46%||37%||2%||9%|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University||March 30 – April 5, 2009||44%||21%||2%||22%|
|Quinnipiac University||March 4–9, 2009||45%||19%||1%||21%|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University||February 25 – March 2, 2009||43%||15%||1%||28%|
|Quinnipiac University||January 29 – February 2, 2009||44%||17%||2%||27%|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University||January 2–7, 2009||32%||15%||5%||17%|
|Republican primary results|
The following three candidates all qualified to appear in the state-sponsored debates.
The following nine candidates were third-party or independent candidates who qualified for the ballot but did not raise enough money to qualify for the state-sponsored debates.
Corzine kicked off his campaign in June criticizing his Republican opponents and tying them to former President George W. Bush. Corzine also released the first two television campaign ads, both were 30 second spots, released on January 5. One of the ads compared the two candidates' positions on social issues. The Republican Governors Association shot back, releasing two of its own television ads showing how Corzine has broken campaign promises on June 16.
Corzine was criticized by GOP leadership for granting contract concessions to state workers, by granting them an additional seven paid days off, after threats were made to protest the primary election night event where Vice President Biden was the keynote speaker. It is estimated that these concessions will cost the state $40 million.
The election became a three-way race on July 7, when independent candidate Christopher Daggett announced that he had raised enough money to qualify for public funds and to qualify for participation in the debates.
On July 15, the New Jersey chapter of a liberal environmental group, the Sierra Club, released a report critical of the Corzine administration's environmental record, with New Jersey Executive Director Jeff Tittel stating that group believes "this will go down as the worst environmental administration in state history." The state organization formally endorsed Daggett on August 17, its first endorsement of an independent candidate.
Corzine was the target of a vigorous advertising campaign funded by the Christie campaign and the Republican Governors Association, attacking his record as governor, tying him to corrupt officials, and assailing him for failing to deliver on his campaign promises. The RGA set up a mock newspaper website, "The Corzine Times", collecting newspaper articles critical of Corzine.
One of Corzine's main lines of attack involved Christie's ties to the unpopular former President of the United States George W. Bush, who appointed Christie to the U.S. Attorney's office in 2001. In August 2009, Bush political strategist Karl Rove revealed that he had held conversations with Christie about a potential gubernatorial run during Christie's time as U.S. Attorney. U.S. Attorneys are prohibited from engaging in partisan political activities by the Hatch Act of 1939. Corzine quickly incorporated this into his advertisements targeting Christie.
The Corzine campaign filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act since March 2009 seeking records of budgets, travel expenses, and no-bid contracts from Christie's tenure as U.S. Attorney. The U.S. Attorney's office did not release the requested documents before election day. Christie Facts, a website paid for by the Corzine campaign, attacks Christie on many fronts, including for not demanding an end to the "stonewalling" by the U.S. Attorney's office. On August 12, Christie's successor, Acting U.S. Attorney Ralph J. Marra, Jr., issued a press release defending the office:
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has worked as professionally and expeditiously as it can to fulfill all the requests and has been in virtually daily contact with the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) in Washington to accomplish this burdensome and continuous task. ... At absolutely no time has there been an effort to slow down or inhibit the FOIA process.
On August 18, 2009, Christie acknowledged that he had loaned $46,000 to First Assistant U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Michele Brown two years ago, while serving as her superior as the state's U.S. attorney, and that he had failed to report the loan on either his income tax returns or his mandatory financial disclosure report to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. In response to the disclosure of the financial relationship between Christie and Brown, Weinberg called on Brown to recuse herself from the task of retrieving U.S. Attorney’s Office records requested by the Corzine campaign under the Freedom of Information Act. On August 25, Brown resigned from her post, stating that she does not want to be "a distraction" for the office. Although the Corzine campaign sought to make the loan a major campaign issue, a Quinnipiac poll showed that only 43% of voters believed that the loan controversy was a legitimate attack, while a plurality of 49% called it an unfair attack.
As of September 20, Corzine had put out 4,806 television advertisements to Christie's 1,393 ads.
Corzine, Christie, and Daggett debated each other three times by the election. Two debates were sanctioned by the state's Election Law Enforcement Commission; Christie and Daggett were required to participate in these debates, as they received public financing. Corzine did not seek public financing but appeared in both ELEC debates. The first debate, sanctioned by the ELEC and sponsored by NJN, Gannett New Jersey, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, was held on October 1 in Trenton. It was televised on NJN. It was widely reported by mainstream media that Chris Daggett won the first debate.
The second ELEC-sanctioned debate, sponsored by Fox News, The Record, WWOR-TV out of Secaucus, and WTXF-TV out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was held on October 16 at William Paterson University in Wayne. It was televised on WWOR-TV and WTXF-TV.
All three candidates appeared in a third debate, which was not sanctioned by the ELEC, that was held on October 22. The debate was broadcast on the radio on WBGO, a Newark-based jazz station, and was simulcast on WNYC out of New York City, WHYY-FM out of Philadelphia, and public radio stations throughout the state of New Jersey. Christie and Daggett agreed to participate in a fourth debate, broadcast on the radio on New Jersey 101.5; Corzine declined to participate.
There was also a debate between the three major candidates for lieutenant governor: Loretta Weinberg, Kim Guadagno, and Frank Esposito. This debate, sponsored by Leadership New Jersey, was held at Monmouth University in West Long Branch on October 8. It was televised on News 12 New Jersey and broadcast on the radio on New Jersey 101.5.
This was the first gubernatorial election since the position of lieutenant governor was created. As such, this year's candidates were the first gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey history to pick running mates. All 12 candidates for governor appearing on the ballot selected their running mates by the July 27, 2009 deadline.
Christie, as the Republican nominee for governor, selected Monmouth Beach's Kim Guadagno, the sheriff of Monmouth County, as his running mate. Others mentioned for the post had included New Jersey Senators Diane Allen and Jennifer Beck, as well as Bergen County Clerk Kathleen Donovan.
Corzine, as the Democratic nominee, selected Teaneck's Loretta Weinberg, a New Jersey Senator and former New Jersey General Assemblywoman, as his running mate. Other mentioned for the post had included Newark Mayor Cory Booker, New Jersey Senators Nia Gill and Barbara Buono, New Jersey General Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, and wealthy businessman Randal Pinkett.
Daggett, having qualified for matching funds, selected Ocean Township's Frank J. Esposito, a longtime professor and administrator at Kean University who served as an advisor to the Commissioner of Education in the Thomas Kean, Sr. administration, as his running mate. Others mentioned for the post had included Edison Mayor Jun Choi and Passaic County freeholder James Gallagher.
Other Lieutenant Governor candidates on the ballot:
In New Jersey, Republicans tend to be strongest in the Northwest and Shore regions of the state, Democrats tend to be strongest in urban areas, and suburban areas such as those in Mercer County, Middlesex County, Union County, Passaic County, and Bergen County are considered toss-ups. In the Democratic primary, Corzine got over 70% of the vote only in the urban areas, doing relatively poorly among suburban Democrats. His weakest performance was in Warren County, where he won with just 55% of the vote. On the other hand, Corzine performed strongly in Bergen County, winning with almost 87% of the vote. In the Republican primary, Christie lost some key Republican strongholds, such as Hunterdon County (where he received 45.8%) and Warren County (where he received 46.9%) to Lonegan.
According to a September 1 Quinnipiac University poll, Hudson County and Essex County were the only counties where a majority of voters viewed Corzine favorably. Corzine had upside-down ratings in all 19 other counties in that poll. In contrast, Christie had upside-down ratings in those two counties but was viewed favorably by pluralities of voters in every other county except for Atlantic County, Ocean County, and Monmouth County, where a majority of voters viewed him favorably.
Taxes and the economy were overwhelmingly the top issues in this campaign. Corzine’s strongest issue was on education, but it was the most important issue for only 4% of likely voters. Christie attacked Corzine's record of raising taxes, failing to deliver property tax relief, and presiding over a period of unusually high unemployment in the state. Corzine pointed to the global economic recession as the reason for the state's economic troubles. However, Republicans contended that Corzine's policies led to over-taxation and economic decline, causing an out-migration of residents documented in a report by the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.
Christie also campaigned on the issues of ethics, reducing corruption, and ending fiscal waste. These issues were brought back to the forefront of the debate after 44 individuals, including several public officials in New Jersey, were arrested by the FBI in July 2009 in Operation Bid Rig. Corzine was not a target of the probe; however, the office of a member of his cabinet, Commissioner of Community Affairs Joseph Doria, was raided by the FBI in connection with Operation Bid Rig. Governor Corzine asked for, and accepted, Doria's resignation on July 23. Doria has not been charged with any crime. Although Corzine has not been accused of any wrongdoing, the corruption sting, which resulted in the arrests of mostly Democratic officials, nevertheless further injured Corzine's reputation. Former EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg predicted in his July 23 column that the corruption scandal would doom Corzine's re-election bid, as ethics would become a major issue again, thus helping Christie. State Senator Ray Lesniak, a prominent Democrat, acknowledged that "If it’s about ethics, Corzine loses. Not because Jon Corzine’s weak on ethics, but because it’s Chris Christie’s strength, and now it’s national news." Paul Mulshine, a conservative columnist for The Star-Ledger, wrote in a July 28 column that the excessive "red tape" prolonged by the Corzine administration contributed to the corruption, further harming Corzine's campaign.
As the Democratic nominee, Corzine was considered to have an inherent advantage in the "blue state" of New Jersey. No Republican has won New Jersey's electoral votes in a presidential election since George H.W. Bush in 1988. Furthermore, prior to the 2009 election, no Republican had won a statewide election in New Jersey since 1997, when Governor Christine Todd Whitman won re-election with 47.1% of the vote. The last Republican to win a statewide election in New Jersey with over 50% of the vote was incumbent Governor Thomas Kean in 1985, who won with 71% of the vote. No Republican has won a U.S. Senate election in New Jersey since liberal Republican Clifford Case in 1972.
Between February 2009 and the end of his term, Corzine's approval ratings ranged between 33% and 42%. His disapproval ratings ranged between 46% and 66%.
Some thought that Corzine would benefit from the popularity of President Barack Obama, who carried the state in 2008 with 57% of the vote and had higher approval ratings than Corzine had. However, Obama's approval ratings in the state varied, ranging from as high as 68% in a June Quinnipiac poll to as low as 53% in a PPP poll, which is lower than what he obtained on election day in 2008. Another poll in July gave him 55% approval in the state, also less than what he obtained on election day. In the same poll 47% believed Obama would help Corzine's numbers in the election by campaigning with him.
After Vice President Biden's June appearance at a "poorly attended" Corzine primary-night event, the Barack Obama administration approached President of the New Jersey Senate and former governor Richard Codey to consider running in the governor's place if the incumbent withdrew from his reelection bid, citing polls showing that Codey led Christie. Obama held a campaign rally for Corzine on July 16. Originally the rally was set to be held at Rutgers University, but ultimately it was held at the PNC Bank Arts Center instead.
|Source||Dates Administered||Corzine (D)||Christie (R)||Daggett (I)||Undecided|
|Public Policy Polling||October 31 – November 1, 2009||41%||47%||11%||–|
|SurveyUSA/WABC-TV||October 30 – November 1, 2009||42%||45%||10%||3%|
|Monmouth University/Gannett||October 30 – November 1, 2009||43%||41%||8%||—|
|Democracy Corps||October 29 – November 1, 2009||41%||37%||15%||8%|
|Quinnipiac||October 27 – November 1, 2009||40%||42%||12%||6%|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University||October 22 – November 1, 2009||43%||41%||8%||5%|
|Monmouth University/Gannett||October 28–30, 2009||42%||43%||8%||5%|
|Rasmussen Reports||October 29, 2009||43%||46%||8%||3%|
|Zogby||October 27–29, 2009||40%||39%||14%||6%|
|Neighborhood Research||October 27–29, 2009||35%||42%||8%||15%|
|Democracy Corps||October 27–28, 2009||43%||38%||12%||7%|
|SurveyUSA/WABC-TV||October 26–28, 2009||43%||43%||11%||3%|
|Research 2000||October 26–28, 2009||41%||42%||14%||3%|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University||October 22–28, 2009||39%||41%||14%||4%|
|Rasmussen Reports||October 26, 2009||43%||46%||7%||4%|
|Public Policy Polling||October 23–26, 2009||38%||42%||13%||6%|
|Quinnipiac||October 20–26, 2009||43%||38%||13%||5%|
|Suffolk University||October 22–25, 2009||42%||33%||7%||14%|
|Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research||October 21–22, 2009||42%||39%||19%||—|
|SurveyUSA||October 19–21, 2009||39%||41%||19%||1%|
|Rutgers-Eagleton||October 15–20, 2009||39%||36%||20%||5%|
|Rasmussen Reports||October 19, 2009||39%||41%||11%||8%|
|Monmouth University||October 15–18, 2009||39%||39%||14%||8%|
|Rasmussen Reports||October 14, 2009||41%||45%||9%||5%|
|SurveyUSA/WABC-TV||October 12–14, 2009||39%||40%||18%||3%|
|The New York Times||October 9–14, 2009||40%||37%||14%||9%|
|Public Policy Polling||October 9–12, 2009||39%||40%||13%||8%|
|Quinnipiac University||October 7–12, 2009||40%||41%||14%||5%|
|Neighborhood Research||October 6–8, 2009||35%||36%||11%||18%|
|Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research||October 6–7, 2009||41%||38%||14%||7%|
|SurveyUSA||October 5–7, 2009||40%||43%||14%||2%|
|Penn, Schoen & Berland Assoc.||September 30 – October 5, 2009||38%||43%||13%||6%|
|Rasmussen Reports||October 5, 2009||44%||47%||6%||3%|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University||September 28 – October 5, 2009||38%||37%||17%||8%|
|Research 2000||September 28–30, 2009||42%||46%||7%||5%|
|Monmouth University||September 24–29, 2009||40%||43%||8%||9%|
|Quinnipiac||September 22–28, 2009||39%||43%||12%||6%|
|Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research||September 22–23, 2009||39%||40%||11%||10%|
|Strategic Vision||September 18–20, 2009||38%||46%||8%||8%|
|Rasmussen Reports||September 14–17, 2009||41%||48%||6%||5%|
|Neighborhood Research||September 14–17, 2009||33%||40%||7%||20%|
|Public Policy Polling||September 11–14, 2009||35%||44%||13%||7%|
|Monmouth University||September 8–10, 2009||39%||47%||5%||7%|
|Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research||September 8–9, 2009||38%||41%||10%||10%|
|Rasmussen Reports||September 9, 2009||38%||46%||6%||10%|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University||August 26–30, 2009||42%||47%||1%*||6%|
|Quinnipiac University||August 25–26, 2009||37%||47%||9%||6%|
|Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research||August 25–26, 2009||41%||43%||7%||9%|
|Rasmussen Reports||August 25, 2009||36%||47%||7%||11%|
|Neighborhood Research||August 12–21, 2009||36%||39%||6%||19%|
|Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research||August 11–12, 2009||35%||40%||10%||15%|
|Quinnipiac University||August 11, 2009||42%||51%||7%||6%|
|Research 2000||August 5, 2009||40%||48%||3%||9%|
|Rasmussen Reports||August 4, 2009||37%||50%||5%||8%|
|Monmouth University||July 29 – August 2, 2009||36%||50%||5%||4%|
|Public Policy Polling||July 24–27, 2009||36%||50%||—||14%|
|Strategic Vision||July 17–19, 2009||38%||53%||5%||4%|
|Monmouth University||July 9–14, 2009||37%||45%||4%||13%|
|Quinnipiac University||July 8–12, 2009||38%||47%||8%||7%|
|Basswood||July 7, 2009||33%||48%||–||19%|
|Rasmussen Reports||July 7, 2009||39%||46%||5%||10%|
|Public Policy Polling||June 27–29, 2009||41%||51%||–||9%|
|Strategic Vision||June 19–21, 2009||39%||51%||2%||8%|
|Quinnipiac University||June 3–8, 2009||40%||50%||1%||9%|
|Rasmussen Reports||June 3, 2009||38%||51%||5%||6%|
|Research 2000||May 25–27, 2009||39%||46%||–||15%|
|Rasmussen Reports||May 14, 2009||38%||47%||6%||9%|
|Monmouth University||April 23–25, 2009||35%||39%||2%||18%|
|Quinnipiac University||April 14–20, 2009||38%||45%||2%||14%|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University||April 5, 2009||33%||42%||—||25%|
|Rasmussen Reports||March 10, 2009||34%||49%||7%||10%|
|Quinnipiac University||March 4–9, 2009||37%||46%||1%||15%|
|Fairleigh Dickinson University||February 25 – March 2, 2009||32%||41%||—||27%|
|Quinnipiac University||January 29 – February 2, 2009||38%||44%||2%||16%|
|Monmouth University||January 12–14, 2009||38%||36%||2%||21%|
|Rasmussen Reports||January 2–7, 2009||40%||42%||5%||13%|
|Fairleigh Dickinson||January 2–7, 2009||40%||33%||—||26%|
|Quinnipiac University||November 17, 2008||42%||36%||—||—|
|Research 2000||September 11, 2008||43%||41%||–||16%|
|Zogby||August 11, 2008||45%||36%||—||—|
|Quinnipiac University||August 10, 2008||40%||41%||1%||17%|
"*" denotes voluntary response only. In the August 26–30 FDU poll, 4% also responded "neither" or "other."
|New Jersey gubernatorial election, 2009|
|Democratic||Jon Corzine (inc.)||1,087,731||44.88%||-8.59%|
|Libertarian||Kenneth R. Kaplan||4,830||0.20%||-0.47%|
|Independent||Gary T. Steele||3,585||0.15%|
|Independent||David R. Meiswinkle||2,598||0.11%|
|Independent||Alvin Lindsay, Jr.||753||0.03%|
|Republican gain from Democratic||Swing|
|County||Christie %||Christie votes||Corzine %||Corzine votes||Daggett %||Daggett votes||Other %||Other votes|
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