Monday, October 12, 2009

Independent shaking up Jersey's Governor's race

In New Jersey, races for governor run the same predictable course.

Democrats and Republicans each choose a candidate. The Democrat gets the support of the teachers, construction unions and enviro groups. The Republican wins the blessing of major business organizations and each gets the editorial endorsements of some of the state's daily newspapers.

Sure, there are other candidates on the ballot but they represent groups so far out on the fringe that even their relatives have a tough time pulling their lever.

This year is different. Voters will get to select from three credible candidates--Democrat Jon Corzine, Republican Chris Christie, and the Independent Chris Daggett.

And this time, the Independent is not some guy in a tin foil hat. Mr. Daggett has solid experience in government--both at the state and federal level--and has not only won the support of one of the state's largest environmental organizations, the Sierra Club, but, in a real shocker, also was endorsed over the weekend by the state's largest newspaper--the Star-Ledger.

An Independent endorsed by the Star-Ledger? Whoa, now that's big.

Why? Because Independents don't have a chance of winning.

Why? Because:

1. Voters are most influenced by television ad campaigns.
2. Television ad campaigns are very, very expensive.
3. Independents can't rely on interest groups to fund ad buys.

The Star-Ledger understands all this, so why would they back the Independent?

Here's their explanation:

The newspaper’s decision is less a rejection of Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican Chris Christie than a repudiation of the parties they represent, both of which have forfeited any claim to the trust and confidence of the people of New Jersey. They share responsibility for the state’s current plight.

Only by breaking the hold of the Democratic and Republican mandarins on the governor’s office and putting a rein on their power will the state have any hope for the kind of change needed to halt its downward economic, political and ethical spiral.

New Jersey needs radical change in Trenton. Neither of the major parties is likely to provide it. Daggett’s election would send shock waves through New Jersey’s ossified political system and, we believe, provide a start in a new direction.

It would signal the entrenched leadership of both parties — and the interest groups they regularly represent — that an ill-served and angry electorate demands something better.

The lamentable fact is that the two parties are, themselves, little more than narrow special interests. Their competition for short-term political and/or monetary gain has jeopardized the state’s long-term economic health and left it with a tarnished national reputation.

Where the major parties have differed, their differences have been inconsequential. Where they’ve been the same, their similarities have been destructive.

They have contributed equally to gross overspending in Trenton by consistently pandering to the pay, pension and retirement policies demanded by powerful public employee unions. Democrats have financed the spree with tax hikes, Republicans with borrowed money, and both with pension-fund raids.

How do we now signal them that this has got to stop if not by rejecting their anointed candidates? How if not by electing Chris Daggett?

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