Thursday, July 9, 2009

Who will the enviros endorse for NJ governor?

Who will New Jersey's environmental organizations endorse for governor in the November election? It's an interesting questions...and an important one for at
least three reasons.

#1 - "The environment" will continue to rank high among issues of importance to New Jersey voters--even though the economy and jobs probably outdistance it today.

#2 - It likely will be a tight race between the two major party candidates --Democrat Jon Corzine, the current governor who's seeking a second term--and Republican Chris Christie, the state's former U.S. Attorney. So close that winning the endorsement of major enviro-groups could make the difference.

#3 - This year's race includes a serious independent candidate--former state DEP Commissioner Chris Daggett--who has bona fide environmental and political creds (no wacko Lyndon LaRouche or Green Party no-name here).

Daggett also has the potential to raise enough money to influence the outcome of the race. Who knows, although unlikely, he could even win it depending on how fed up voters are with government-as-we-know-it.

One of the state's enviro-powerhouses, the Sierra Club, has been slamming the governor in recent months for what they see as his lack of follow-through on green issues and dogging him at such press events as the groundbreaking for a new Hudson River rail tunnel and the announcement of a Garden State Parkway expansion.

The media-savvy organization has made a point of getting their negative press releases into the hands (and the resulting stories) of reporters covering Corzine's "good news" events. The tactic has served to boost the Sierra Club's visibility, and remind the governor of how much more damage the activists could inflict as his campaign unfolds.

Does this mean the Sierra Club won't support Corzine's re-election? Could the group, which often appears to be little more than a Democratic party adjunct, actually endorse the (gasp) Republican candidate, Mr. Christie?

In a piece in today's PolitickerNJ, Matt Friedman reports that Sierra Club executive director Jeff Tittel " has said nice things about Christie’s record on environmental law enforcement as U.S. Attorney, though his Republican primary rhetoric on cutting the jobs at the DEP could prove problematic."

Those with longer memories will recall that the Sierra Club also was saying nice things about GOP candidate Doug Forrester four years ago during Corzine's first campaign for governor.

Of course, it was just a tactic, a way to get Corzine to pay attention (and perhaps make promises) to the Sierrans in return for their support.

The same scare tactic is at work this time around. The only difference this time is Daggett's emergence as a viable candidate. Yesterday, he announced that his campaign had raised enough money to qualify for matching state funds. If the accounting holds up, he'll qualify for at least $1 million and also will be guaranteed participation in at least two gubernatorial debates.

So, if we're to believe all of the Sierra Club's criticisms about the Democratic governor's shortcomings, and dismiss their sudden coziness with Republican Christie as the mere posturing that it is,
and believe that their sole interest is the environment, then we can expect they'll be endorsing Mr. Daggett, a proven environmental advocate. Right?

We'll, maybe. But remember: like other political "players," above whom the enviros like to place themselves, they also desire to back the winner and lay claim to some stake of power when he assumes
(or re-asssumes) control.

We'll keep watch on the Sierra Club and other enviro groups and let you know when they announce their endorsements. In the meanwhile, we invite your views. Use the comment box below. If you don't see one, click on the tiny 'comment' line and one should appear.

NJ Governor's race picks up (renewable) energy
Independent candidate Daggett hits funding threshold
Daggett files for matching funds

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