Is Christie’s Reelection Inevitable?

Cross-Posted at MoreMonmouthMusings.com

Governor Christie will be in Aberdeen today to accept the endorsement of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) for his reelection bid.

Before wingnut conservatives get all crestfallen or disgusted, let me remind you that the Teamsters endorsed Ronald Reagan. A labor union’s endorsement doesn’t automatically make that Republican a RINO, unless you consider Reagan a RINO.

Yes, this means that New Jersey is not likely to become a “Right to Work” state so long as Christie is governor, It also means that we will continue to overpay “prevailing wage” on government funded and supported construction projects. As our friends at InTheLobby point out, it also explains why Christie has thwarted efforts to expand legalized gambling in New Jersey to race tracks, but those are all other stories.

What the LIUNA endorsement really means is that New Jersey Democrats are not likely to make a fight of the gubernatorial campaign in 2013. Christie’s post Sandy poll numbers make him look invincible. By locking up a major union endorsement early, Christie is creating an air of inevitability for reelection.

Cory Booker will probably take his cue from the left stream media and opt to not to run for governor while keeping his options open to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Frank Lautenberg. That seat is up in 2014.

Last week the New York Times laid out the case against a Booker run for governor….his record as mayor of Newark is not that good. The Times piece is the narrative that Barbara Buono, Dick Codey or Steve Sweeney could use against Booker in a Democratic primary or that Christie could use in the general election. The quotes would fill numerous TV ads and postcards. Booker would spend the entire campaign arguing with the New York Times and defending his mediocre record in Newark.

In an open letter to Booker published at NJSpotLight, NJTV’s Michael Aron, “the Dean” of the Statehouse press corps who once considered leaving journalism to lead the New Jersey Democratic Party, basically endorsed Christie and told Booker to wait for the Senate race in 2014, if he has it in his soul to beat up an old man like Lautenberg.

But Christie is enormously popular, a gifted politician, and someone who probably transcends party labels at this point. Unless his fortunes change — which is possible — he’s going to be a two-term governor, like Byrne, Kean, and Whitman. He seems worthy of being in their company, don’t you think? (emphasis added)

Booker will probably make his announcement that he’s not running for governor tomorrow or Thursday.

LIUNA’ s endorsement of Christie strikes at the heart of State Senate President Steve Sweeney’s slim hopes of defeating Christie in 2013. An Iron Workers Union Leader by profession, Sweeney would need unanimous support from the private sector unions to have the remotest chance of overcoming Christie’s significant advantages in the coming election. Today’s endorsement of Christie by LIUNA, 11 months before the election, is a message to Sweeny….don’t bother this time. Look for Sweeney to run for another term in the State Senate and retain the presidency. Once Christie starts running for President of the United States, sometime in late 2014 or early 2015, Sweeney will advance his agenda and name recognition in battles with Acting Governor Kim Guadagno as prelude to the 2017 gubernatorial campaign.

With Booker and Sweeney out of the race, the Democrats are left looking for a place holder who can help keep Christie coattails from going too deep down ballot while not ending the candidate’s own political future, unless that candidate does not otherwise have a political future.

Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald is out because he would have to give up his Assembly seat and have no clear path to political relevance after losing to Christie.

Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage’s name has been pushed by Senator Ray Lesniak. Bollwage, 57, has spent almost all of his adult life in Elizabeth elected office. 10 years as a councilman and the last 20 as mayor. He was just elected, unopposed, to his 6th four year term as leader of New Jersey’s fourth largest city. Yet, he is largely unknown outside of Union County. His job as mayor secure, a Bollwage run would make sense to increase his name ID for a future run for statewide office.

Barbabra Buono’s best political days are behind her. The only candidate in the race thus far, the former Senate Majority Leader was delegated to the back bench by Sweeney. She’s running as the anti-establishment candidate. But the establishment, i.e. Camden Boss George Norcross and Essex County Executive Joey DiVincenzo may just let her have the nomination. They have made out OK with Christie and it never hurts to have a friend in the White House, should Christie make it there on January 20, 2017.

That leaves former Acting Governor Dick Codey, the former Senate President who finished Jim McGreevey’s gubernatorial term and made way for Jon Corzine before being dumped as Senate President by Norcross and DiVincenzo in favor of Sweeney.

Codey would love to be governor again. He would love to stick it to Norcross and DiVincenzo. He’s been at the peak of power and now at 66, he is a back bencher thanks to the bosses of North and South Jersey.

But if he runs for governor, Codey’s Senate seat would be in play as his district was redrawn in 2011 to include parts of heavily Republican Morris County. He might not care. Codey could run against DiVincenzo for Essex County Executive in 2014. He would relish beating DiVincenzo but probably wouldn’t love being County Executive. Aron said in his letter to Booker that he hears that Codey won’t run for governor, but he’s acting like a candidate. I wouldn’t be surprised if he runs.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes a race of it.

Christie’s poll numbers are sky high now, but New Jersey picks its candidates very early. Party nominees are chosen by early April and the primaries are over the first week of June.

Unless we have another hurricane next summer/fall Christie’s poll numbers could be back in the 40’s come next fall. The 2013 budget battle will be ugly with very hard choices. The cost of Christie’s signature non-weather related accomplishment, pension and benefit reform will be $1 billion in next year’s budget. Property taxes will rise due to Sandy and pensions. Christie’s base at the Shore will be frustrated by slow Sandy rebuilding efforts and the lack of money coming from Washington, Trenton, insurance companies and banks. New Jersey’s gratitude and affection for Christie could prove to be fickle come next September and the Democratic candidate who took a chance based on December 2012 poll numbers could look like a genius come the fall of 2013.

I think Christie will be reelected. If Buono or Bollwage are the Democratic nominee, Christie will win easily. Codey could make a race of it. He would make it entertaining. The debates between Codey and Christie could be hosted by Saturday Night Live, as both men are funny enough to play their own comedic parts.

And….a race between Codey and Christie would be great for blog traffic.

Thus, MMM’s first 2013 prediction is that Dick Codey will be the Democratic gubernatorial nominee with Barbara Buono as his Lt. Governor running mate. Christie wins 51% to 49%.

 

Art Gallagher

Art Gallagher

Art Gallagher is a Highlands businessman, former President at Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce and the force behind the very popular Central Jersey political blog MoreMonmouthMusings.com.

23 Comments

  1. Your analysis is right on target, Matt. There is no way that Booker runs against Christie, because he would lose and tarnish his golden boy image. Sweeney won't either; choosing to bypass 2013 for 2017. I think he realizes – or at least NJ voters do – that he's not U.S. Senate material. But Booker could beat Lautenberg, if Frank is even alive in two years, so I definitely see Cory throwing his hat in the ring in 2014. That leaves Buono and possibly Codey, just like you said.

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