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Election 2013: New Jersey Election for Governor

Chris Christie takes on (Likely) Challenger Barbara Buono


Election 2013: New Jersey Election for Governor
Michael Todaro, Getty Images
While 2013 will feature very few political races (most states hold elections during even-numbered years), there are a number of interesting races to watch. In Massachusetts there is a special election for the US Senate seat being vacated by John Kerry after he became President Obama's Secretary of Defense. Perhaps even more interesting as a preview of his presidential ambitions, New Jersey Republican Chris Christie will be seeking a second term as governor after winning a close election in 2009 with just 49% of the vote.

GOP Nominee: Governor Chris Christie

Governor Chris Christie is easily the most nationally known Governor thanks in large part to his larger-than-life personality. While the tea party movement helped fuel Christie's 2009 victory to some extent, the relationship since then has been relatively cool, if not outright hostile. Christie's tenure has been generally successful as he has both battle with and cozied up to varying labor unions. He regularly picks battles with the conservative wing of the Republican Party while playing footsie with the Obama and Clinton families. His anti-everybody attitude may be a key driver in his across-the-board popularity within New Jersey. After all, who do voters hate more than politicians? A big victory for Christie could make a strong case for a presidential run in many voters' eyes.

(Presumptive) Democratic Nominee: Barbara Buono

With Chris Christie's skyrocketing star status, every top-tier Democrat in New Jersey opted not to challenge the Republican governor. Most notably, Newark mayor Cory Booker opted to run for the US Senate in 2014 rather than face Christie and possibly lose. As a result, the Democrats will seemingly settle for state senator Barbara Buono to be the token opposition for Christie. While it's almost weird to type those words about a Republican in New Jersey, the general feeling is that Christie will have little trouble winning re-election. Adding to the Democratic nominee's woes is bitter party in-fighting and the troublesome reality that Christie is picking up major support from Democratic politicians across the state.

What the Polls Say

While the election is not until November 5th the polling has changed little since Buono became the most likely Christie challenger back in January 2013. In ten separate polls by 5 different organizations between January and the end of May, Christie has led by no fewer than 30 points. With 6 months to go, that is a lot of ground to make up. While the numbers should undoubtedly get tighter - I can't imagine a Democrat getting 25-30% in a statewide NJ race - it does not yet appear to be a nail-bighter.

Should Conservatives Support Christie?

While conservatives are regularly down to rage against " the establishment" within the Republican party, we typically like to do so from right. Chris Christie enjoys doing it from the left. He has opposed Republicans on guns, immigration, global warming, and wasteful spending. In New Jersey, he probably doesn't need the support of conservatives anyway. Of course, we also recognize Christie is in a typical election-minded bind. Is Christie's behavior a reflection of the population he is trying to currently win over? Is he merely afraid of seeming too conservative? Mitt Romney faced similar problems transitioning from a socially liberal Governor of Massachusetts to a socially conservative nominee for President. At the end of the day, Chris Christie is a politician. The number one goal of a politician is to win an election. While it certainly won't win him any points should he run for president in 2016, Chris Christie is only looking at the election in front of him. If conservatives support him, they will likely need to do so with the understanding that he will probably be against us as often as he is with us.

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