Chris Christie won comfortably by double-digits in the New Jersey gubernatorial primary, setting up a face-off against the hobbled incumbent Jon Corzine. The GOP – at least for one night – decided that the fiscal conservative with cross-over appeal was the best choice to avoid political irrelevancy in a Blue Northeastern state. Corzine, as detailed here and here, has a boatload of problems but also, a boatload of cash and an electorate that is heavily Democratic.
Republicans will look to the November race as a sign that the party still has a pulse in the Northeast. They will look to make it a referendum on Corzine and the troubles (ethical and economic) that have enveloped his administration, which came into office with high hopes that the Goldman Sachs wizard could bring his savvy business sense to the state. Oh my, how things change! And the Democrats will run against the national GOP, Rush Limbaugh, and whatever they can find to distract voters from the budget shortfalls, tax hikes, and fiscal screw ups (sell the New Jersey turnpike?) that have beset Corzine.
Both sides will pour millions into the race and the winner will claim it is a precursor to the 2010 elections. Perhaps. But maybe it is a simple test: how badly can a liberal administration mess up and remain in power? We’ll find out soon enough. And they may indeed be valuable data for 2010 and 2012.