There was a gubernatorial election in 2013. I don't guess it's possible to spoil the outcome, but this was the coverage we gave to it at the time.
By now it is generally known that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie secretly underwent Gastric Banding Surgery (not to be confused with the similar Gastric Bypass Surgery) in February. He has announced it, and answered press questions concerning it. It appears that his concerns about his weight were driven by concerns about his long-term health and its impact on his family, and also about that problem that all who struggle with weight recognize, keeping clothes in his closet that fit.
These drastic gastric surgeries have value, but they are not weight loss panaceas. Banding in particular works by restricting the size of the stomach so as to reduce the volume of food required to trigger the sense that you are "full". For some people, that sense is dysfunctional, not triggering sometimes at all, sometimes soon enough; and some people eat fast enough to overeat before they have realized they are no longer hungry. Stomachs are designed to stretch to accommodate the normal eating habits of the patient, and although the bands tend to contain this, there are still directions in which stretching can occur. In the end, such surgeries are an aid to learning to eat less, and not everyone learns that lesson.
Despite the announcements, some will speculate that the goal of losing weight is political. We have had some hugely overweight Presidents in the past, but in modern times the appearance that someone is heavy triggers a fear that they are unhealthy. The moderate Christie has a good reputation as a viable candidate against the democrats, and even if he expresses no aspirations toward the presidency he is likely to be perceived as a solid vice presidential candidate particularly if the party offers a southern or western conservative at the head of the ticket. Being thinner would make him more viable for this.
On the positive side, though, it demonstrates that he is willing to take serious but reasonable steps to solve his own personal problems, a characteristic already displayed in his approach to the problems of governing New Jersey. If he can follow through with the dietary recommendations and reach a more comfortable weight, that will speak well of his character as well as improving his health.
The question then is whether it worked; and that's the wrong question, because these treatments take time. What we need to ask is whether it is working. The pictures of Governor Christie dating from before the surgery compared to those earlier this week, although we are not looking at the incredible before-and-after shots of so many fad diet claims, suggest that he is thinner now than he was a few months back.
Tuesday June 4th is primary election day in New Jersey, and this is the year of the governor's race. Thus it is worth taking a moment to look at the candidates--two Democrat, two Republican--whose names will appear on that ballot when the paltry few who consider primary races in a non-presidential election year important enough to vote do so.
It has long been said that an incumbent governor in New Jersey is guaranteed a second term unless he truly angers or upsets the voters. This is in part blamed on the fact that governors are in the news constantly and, since most of us get our news through New York or Philadelphia outlets, candidates remain unknown, so voters see one name they recognize and if they don't have an immediate negative reaction to that name, they vote for it. Despite upsetting a few key groups such as the New Jersey Education Association with his budget moves, Governor Chris Christie at the moment is one of the most popular governors New Jersey has had in decades; yet he does not run unopposed, even within his own party, and there are ways he could lose the next election, depending on how this primary goes.
So let us take a moment to look at the candidates in brief, and see who they are.
The darkest dark horse here is a Democratic candidate named Troy Webster. He is not a complete unknown--he played NBA basketball for the New Jersey Nets, and is presently a mayoral aid in East Orange. He has been endorsed by those who see his Democratic opposition's candidacy as either a bad joke or a losing proposition, but observers question whether anyone takes his candicacy seriously--even himself. He is seen more as the best available alternative to state Democratic Senator Barbara Buono, should she drop out of the race.
Even his website tells little more than this, although it notes his NJToday.Net endorsement, which is endorsing dark horse candidates in both parties on the claim that the major candidates promise only business as usual.
Also endorsed by NJToday.Net, Seth Grossman is a conservative "Tea Party" Republican, a lawyer with extensive experience in county and city government in the southern half of the state. He asserts that Governor Christie is too liberal, and that Republicans need to field a candidate who will make deeper spending cuts, stand more strongly against gun control, lower taxes including tolls, toughen immigration enforcement, and break union power with right to work laws. He outlines these on his website.
Grossman is right on one point: he could defeat Christie in the primary because of low voter turnout. What he does not consider is the potential for sabotage voting, that Democrats who perceive Christie's position as unassailable might surge to the Republican primary ballot to put Grossman on the ticket. With less than a week before the primary, his fundraising level posted on his web site shows a receipt of less than ten percent of his fifty thousand dollar target. In a strongly liberal state like New Jersey, the chance for a strongly conservative Republican candidate to win on promises of tougher stands against unions (who already dislike Christie) and cuts in spending is unlikely to be a winning strategy in the general election, and he could be the best chance for a Democratic victory at this point.
To say that New Jersey state Senator and former State Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono (sounds like "Cuomo"--there is a video on her website demonstrating this) is the leading Democratic contender in the present race is somewhat like saying that the Jamaicans have the best bobsled team of all Carribean countries. Her position is so poor that Democratic former Governor Brendan Byrne has twice suggested she should drop out of the race so that the Democrats would not lose as badly in November. She brushes off the suggestion, saying that she has overcome expectations that she would lose on multiple previous occasions, and expects to do so again in this race.
Buono's campaign paints Christie as an extreme conservative who slashes programs for education and women, and attempts to position her pro-choice, pro-LGBT, pro-gun control views as representative of the moderate New Jersey voter. She has gotten endorsements from the radical Latino Action Network and the abortion rights political action committee Emily's List, but as the Byrne comments suggest she has not unified the state Democratic party behind her bid, and national figures are not taking her seriously--as some have noted, President Obama made an extra trip for photo opportunities with Governor Christie in the Hurricane Sandy area when he could have gone to the Oklahoma tornado damage, and did not as much as meet with the democratic candidate while here.
There is something of a divisive tone in Buono's campaign, as she has made the comment that there are enough women voters to put her in office, as if women should vote for her either solely because of gender or because all women must agree on her more liberal views. She is trailing so far behind Christie in the polls that her victory in the general election might require him to be eliminated before that.
Governor Chris Christie, Republican, is running for re-election. Although it is true that our incumbents tend to be re-elected, Christie must be aware that he deprived Democratic Governor John Corzine of this four years ago, and despite his lead things could turn against him. His website details his accomplishments in office impressively.
He is presented as a moderate Republican good at bi-partisan efforts. Liberal supporters of Buono claim he is a staunch conservative, noting his heavy-handed budget cutting during the recession (and ignoring that most of the cuts have been restored) and his early opposition to Obamacare (stated to be based on financial concerns, and reversed as the financial picture became clearer). He has nominated minority candidates to the New Jersey State Supreme Court, only to have them blocked by the legislature. He is pro-life and pro-marriage, but supported civil unions. He is under attack by the right wing of his own party, who consider him a RINO. In the wake of his skilled handling of the Hurricane Sandy disaster, even some Democrats have endorsed him. It is difficult to imagine a better credential for "moderate" than this.
He could still lose despite his strong position, but if he survives the primary he has a running start on November.
There were no surprise upsets in the New Jersey gubernatorial race in the June 4th primary. Despite Seth Grossman's hopes that conservative Republicans would remove New Jersey's extremely popular governor Chris Christie from the ballot for being too liberal, Christie won the primary nomination easily. Meanwhile, former New Jersey state Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono easily defeated the seemingly token opposition of dark horse Troy Webster to cement her position on the Democratic ticket in November.
Meanwhile, the state will have two more elections before November. Eighty-nine year old Democratic United States Senator Frank Lautenberg succumbed to pneumonia early Monday morning, June 3rd, and in the midst of the primary election Christie honored the Senate's oldest member and last remaining World War II veteran. Although Christie is empowered to appoint a replacement for the remainder of the term which ends next year, he is also empowered to call for an election if he believes it is in the interests of the state to do so. Perhaps because of the complications of a Republican governor appointing someone to replace a Democratic Senator, Christie will limit his appointment power to providing someone to fill the seat for a shorter span, holding a special primary election August 13th and a special general election for the Senate seat itself on October 16th, before Christie faces Buono in the regular general election on November 5th this year.
Although the election was just announced, Newark's Democratic Mayor Cory Booker has already announced his candidacy--no surprise to political watchers, as he had already declined to run for his party's gubernatorial nomination stating he hoped to replace Lautenberg in 2014. Booker, perhaps New Jersey's second most popular politician (next to Christie), is considered by some unbeatable in that race; New Jersey has not elected a Republican Senator since 1972.
It thus appears that New Jerseyans will be doing a lot of voting this year, the gubernatorial and senatorial elections being the most important ones in the state outside Presidential election years.
With Barbara Buono having defeated the seemingly token primary opposition from Troy Webster, she has been facing an uphill fight against Governor Chris Christie (who similarly swept aside a challenge from tea party conservative Seth Grossman), by most accounts having only half as much support from the voters and facing an apathetic party leadership who would seemingly prefer Christie over her. Thirty Democratic officeholders have crossed the line, endorsing the Republican Christie largely for his organization of hurricane relief and his continued efforts in that area; Buono brags one Republican mayor doing the same for her, the Mayor of Spotswood (anyone know where that is?). She is doing her best to attack him on issues she thinks she can win, but getting little support in her efforts.
She has rather dramatically stated that Christie's new $32.97 billion dollar fiscal 2014 budget is larger than the fiscal 2009 budget over which she had significant influence in the Corzine era, and she is correct. That budget was only $32.86 billion dollars. This, though, will be a non-issue. Every budget under Christie's administration has been less than that, and the 2008 budget--equally creditable to Buono--was a half a billion more. Besides, this budget was agreed in quiet negotiations between the Democratic legislative leadership and the governor's office, and contains quite a bit of money Democrats have specifically requested for their issues, and the 2009 budget is thought to have been reduced in large part because of the recession. It will be a non-starter.
Her other issue is Christie's opposition to homosexual marriage in New Jersey. He has vetoed a bill creating it and promised to do so again. Buono's daughter has published a letter scathing him for "blatantly delegitimizing" gays. New Jersey passed a civil unions law after the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that it had to extend rights to homosexuals, but Christie maintains that marriage has always been an institution for the uniting of members of opposite sexes. He says if it is truly an important issue it should be decided by the voters. With Buono objecting, the Democratic legislative leadership has decided neither to attempt to override the veto before the election nor to place the issue on the ballot. They might not have the votes for an override given that every state legislator is up for re-election this year and some would be certain to lose their seats if they incited conservative constituents, and given the lackluster appeal Buono has had putting the issue on the ballot would probably bring strong conservative political action groups to the state and turn out the Republican vote even more powerfully. Her best hope on that front is that private groups will appeal the marriage issue to the State Supreme Court, putting Christie in the position of having to choose between defending the current law and so weakening his support among democrats and liberal independents, or surrendering the issue and losing face with conservative Republicans nationally.
Meanwhile, there is much to be said for Christie's statement that Buono is "the most partisan member of the New Jersey state Senate." She has opposed his initiatives more often than the current Democratic leadership. She ranks third highest on environmental issues among state legislators, markets herself as the political arm of the public employees' union, and has alienated much of her own party.
Perhaps her strongest front, though, is the assertion that Christie might not complete the term if elected. There is a lot of talk about making him the next Republican Presidential candidate, and in early polls he would tie with (Hillary) Clinton and defeat any other Democrat included in the survey--and this despite the fact that about two fifths of the voters do not yet know who he is. If he were elected he would have to leave office, but even sooner he might have to resign the governship in order to raise money, due to complex rules about contributions from certain kinds of businesses that tend to support Republican candidates and view him favorably. That would leave his little-known Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno at the state helm, and Buono would like to make this race about whether voters would choose Guadagno over her. However, although Christie makes many national appearances in support of the party, there is as yet no indication that he would run for President in 2016, and he would need to persuade many more of the Republican conservatives that he is on their side before he could do so.
Little has changed in the New Jersey Gubernatorial race; Republican Governor Chris Christie still leads dramatically over Democratic State Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono, who still struggles to win even her own demographics. New Jersey's women overwhelmingly support Christie, and about a third of registered Democrats prefer him over her.
Most of the media interest in Christie takes for granted that he will sweep the Governor's race in November, and is more interested in whether he will run for President in 2016--one of the issues Buono has attempted to use against him. Polls show him the Republican with the best chance to win such a bid, running neck and neck with the leading Democrat Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, he appears to have been moving cautiously. As several gun control bills reached his desk, he signed half of them (denying handguns to persons on the Federal terrorist watchlist, increasing penalties for gun crimes, and exempting gun records from the state's open public records law), but not others (banning .50 caliber rifles, requiring logs of ammunition sales, and allowing instant background checks). He thus appeased the state's strong gun control lobby without overly antagonizing gun rights groups, possibly with a view to his political future at the national level.
Buono's top story is her selection of a running mate, Latina labor leader Milly Silva, gaining her some support from unions. Christie's organization was quick to observe that the Lieutenant Governor hopeful had no qualifications to serve as Governor, and was chosen solely to garner votes.
On another front, Buono has been back-pedaling on previous support for expanding gambling beyond Atlantic City into the Meadowlands. Southern legislators strongly oppose such a move. Although Atlantic City was the first east coast gambling Mecca, it has lost much of its appeal as neighboring states have also cashed in on gambling as a revenue source, and competition from the northern part of the state is seen as the death knell for the city. Christie has also talked about expanding gambling, but always as secondary to restoring Atlantic City's financial strength.
Buono has a long road ahead if she hopes to have any chance at winning this election, and she has not moved at all in the right direction, but there is still time.
One almost has to feel sorry for Barbara Buono, New Jersey's Democratic candidate for governor. Already she is up against a Republican incumbent so popular that pollsters are more interested in whether he would win the Presidency in 2016 than in whether Buono has any chance of taking the governorship from him. Yet she feels that her unfair deal has been compromised further by a cheating opponent, and there is almost merit to her claim.
A significant part of Governor Chris Christie's popularity arises from his handling of the emergency created by Hurricane Sandy last year, time in which he was seen touring the area with President Obama and during which his government managed recovery so effectively that many Democrats have endorsed his re-election bid. Even now he appears regularly in television ads encouraging vacationers to visit the New Jersey shore, in the "Stronger than the Storm" campaign. Since the New Jersey shore's major business is what is called tourism (although the beach is the main attraction), it is perfectly reasonable that some of the recovery money should be spent to stimulate the economy by bringing the tourists back to the beach. Having Christie in them gives them force and credibility. In a sense, he should be in those ads, as part of the rebuilding and revitalization of the shore communities.
Yet this is a problem for Barbara Buono. Already she is fighting a losing battle. Already she suffers shortfalls against her opponent in name recognition, financial support, political endorsements, and favorability ratings. Now on top of all this, taxpayer money is paying to put Chris Christie's image on television, keeping the voters aware of his hands-on approach to repairing the damage from the storm. That's not the way campaigns are supposed to work; the incumbent is not supposed to be able to use the power of his office to promote his image in a re-election campaign. Buono wants something done about this. Make the Christie campaign pay for the advertising, or give her equal time, or somehow rectify the imbalance in promotional ability that the governor has, in her view, unfairly used against her.
Unfortunately for Buono, this is how these things work. New Jersey governors always have used their official position as a means of reaching the voters. At every major entry to this state there is, and for as long as I have been alive has always been, a sign welcoming visitors in the name (and often with the picture) of its governor. Would she like all those signs to be changed to read, "Welcome to New Jersey, from its Governor Chris Christie, and the Democratic candidate who hopes to replace him in Novemeber's election, Barbara Buono"? She won't get that. These imbalances are part of why it is difficult to run against an incumbent, and perhaps part of why all the credible democrats--Mayor Booker, Congressman Pallone, and Senator Menendez among them--declined to run against him. The incumbent is news; the work the incumbent is doing to promote the recovery at the shore is logically part of his job. It is unfair; get over it. Make yourself newsworthy by doing something other than complaining that the governor is doing his job in a way you don't like.
In the past month (since our August update), both of our gubernatorial candidates have managed to put foot in mouth, to their detriments.Democrat Barbara Buono was continuing to attack Christie over those Stronger than the Storm ads, and said, "I don't know about you, but seeing Chris Christie frolicking on the beach is not going to drive me to go to the shore." Her audience laughed, but she now denies that it was a "fat joke", even though only her most ardent supporters believe her.
Buono also claimed that a ten percent tuition increase at Rutgers was due to Christie's higher education budget cutting; the truth is that you have to stretch a bit to assert that the increase is ten percent, and state law makes the Rutgers Board of Governors responsible for setting tuition and budget, something over which the governor has no direct control. He did cut spending in every area, but the tuition hikes are not entirely his fault.
It does not appear that President Obama will be visiting to help the Buono campaign, but they did get help from a Hollywood actress, Kerry Washington, who happens to be a cousin (by marriage) of Buono's running mate, Milly Silva. They are gaining support among Democrats, but more than half of all women in the state still prefer the Governor. Polls show some gain, but Christie is still ahead by between twenty and twenty-five percentage points, and still at over fifty percent of the vote. Few observers see any hope for Buono, even if Obama were to visit. (His visit did not help Corzine in the last election.)
Meanwhile, Republican Chris Christie's big gaff involves insulting a sports reporter. The reporter had gone hard on Christie's friend, New York Jets team coach Rex Ryan. Christie called the reporter an idiot, publicly, and New York's Daily News responded by calling him "Fatso" on its front page. Liberals are making much of this spat, but mostly in an effort to make Christie look less presidential.
Christie also declined to appear at a Steve Lonegan campaign rally with Senator Rand Paul, because he had already made plans to celebrate his wife's fiftieth birthday that weekend. (The Governor celebrated his own fifty-first earlier this month.) Paul has since won a presidential straw poll among conservative Republicans at a gathering in Michigan, suggesting that even if Christie is the candidate with the best chance to win, Republicans will probably nominate someone out of the mainstream. Most New Jersey voters think he wants to run, but that he has New Jersey's interests as his priority.
In other news, he signed gun control legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to inform the state about guns seized or found abandoned; he vetoed more sweeping measures banning fifty caliber rifles and overhauling the gun permit law. New Jersey's gun laws are rated second in the nation by the Brady Campaign.
Observers also say that he looks slimmer since last year's lap band surgery.
The November election is still over a month away, and although Christie is holding fairly steady, Buono has made some gains. Few believe she can win, but many think it would be a serious upset if she can lose by only ten percentage points.
As the election looms (two weeks away) the Democrats are going on the offensive against Governor Chris Christie.
Whatever position you hold on homosexual marriage or on judicial activism, it must be admitted that the timing of the suit to legalize marriages in the state--a decision Christie has always maintained should be determined by a voter referendum, not by legislation or judicial decision--has been well-timed to give the governor trouble. His administration appealed it but dropped the appeal in the face of a court that made it clear they were unanimously in favor of the change, and by now homosexual marriages are legal in the State of New Jersey, without reference to what its citizens believe. It forced the Governor to choose between abandoning his principles, thus alienating a substantial part of his conservative base, and acting on them, thus intensifying the degree to which homosexual marriage is an issue in the election.
On the other hand, the matter having been settled by the courts, it perhaps is no longer an issue. That Barbara Buono would fight for homosexual marriage in the state is now irrelevant; she has lost the issue by winning it.
It is not the only attack she has made. Perhaps hitting below the belt, she has published her own personal medical history, and asserted that she is fit for the job, implying that Christie, whose struggles with weight problems including lap band surgery have been well-publicized, is not. Christie has responded by offering to release his own medical records, which his office has not yet done, but also by saying that voters decide whether you are able to do the job by whether you do it, and have seen him performing it successfully under challenging conditions over the past four years.
Buono is also asserting that Christie will abandon the Governor's Mansion to run for President in 2016, and she will not. Christie's only comment on that issue is that he does not know what will happen in the next four years, and he has never run for President. He is still considered a leading contender on the national stage, but his decision to drop the hopeless fight in the courts against homosexual marriage has cost him significant credibility with the Republican base, which apparently likes uncompromising hopeless battles against incredible odds even when, as with the recent federal government shutdown, everyone knows they will lose and they do lose.
Christie presents himself as a moderate able to work in bipartisan efforts. Buono paints herself as an independent with no obligations to anyone and no relationships to maintain or promises to keep. She is consistently described in the press as "progressive", will not promise not to raise the state sales tax, and wants to spend much more money on social programs and education for which she has not provided a clear indication of how it will be funded.
The most recent polls still put Christie ahead by a substantial margin, twenty-four percentage points in a mid-month Monmouth University poll, twenty-nine in a more recent Quinnipiac University survey, twenty-six in a Rutgers-Eagleton poll. Buono leads narrowly among Democratic voters and even more narrowly among black voters, but all other demographics including women lean toward Christie, some of them very heavily, including independent voters. For several of these polls, his position is better than it was a month ago.
Tomorow (November 5th, 2013) is Election Day, and everyone is anticipating a landslide victory of Republican Governor Chris Christie over Democratic Former State Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono. We have been following that race, as polls still show him ahead by anything from nineteen to twenty-four percentage points, with a majority of New Jersey voters firmly behind him and barely over a third supporting his opponent. The only significant question is whether Christie's popularity will result in a shift in the control of the legislature, currently firmly held by democrats with supermajorities in both houses, twenty-four to sixteen in the forty-member State Senate, forty-eight to thirty-two in the eighty-member General Assembly. All seats are up for re-election, and most incumbents are running for re-election--seventy-five of eighty assemblymen, thirty-nine of forty senators (the latter excluding only Buono herself, on the gubenatorial ticket). There are candidates for every seat from both major parties except that in District 25 the incumbent Republicans are opposed only by independent candidates, and in District 20 the incumbent Democrat is similarly opposed only by an independent. There are also a few other independents and a few libertarians in scattered districts.
There are also two Public Questions on the ballot.
The first is a minor matter. The New Jersey State Constitution authorizes the use of games of chance as fundraisers for a limited selection of purposes--educational, charitable, patriotic, religious or public-spirited, along with an exception for senior citizen groups raising money for their own benefit. Public Question 1: New Jersey Support for Veterans' Organizations from Gambling Proceeds Amendment will create a similar exception for veterans to use bingo, raffles, and lotteries to raise money for their own benefit. It was placed on the ballot by the unanimous support of both houses of the legislature.
The other is more controversial. Public Question 2: New Jersey Minimum Wage Increase Amendment would raise the minimum wage in the state immediately by a dollar (to a dollar more than the Federal minimum wage) plus tie it to the Consumer Price Index in a way that would create mandatory increases in the minimum wage annually, as long as inflation continues.
In New Jersey the legislature can put such an issue on the ballot by a supermajority vote of sixty percent in both houses, but although the Democrats hold sixty percent of the seats in both houses they were unable to achieve this. The alternative is that the same question approved by a simple majority in two consecutive sessions of the legislature is placed on the ballot, which is what happened in this case. The majority of voters appear to want to raise the minimum wage and so support the ammendment, but it has its problems, chief among them that once it becomes a constitutional amendment (as opposed to a legislative act) it can only be reversed by constitutional amendment. Governor Christie has argued that he wants to raise the minimum wage, but not as drastically or abruptly, phasing in higher wages over several years and not locking the state into a situation that might not be easy to reverse. He conditionally vetoed a 2012 bill which raised the wage by a dollar twenty-five, looking for compromise, but the legislature instead took it to the level of constitutional amendment.
The concerns of those in favor are simple to grasp: a higher minimum wage means better living conditions for those working bottom-level jobs. The concerns of those against are more difficult to see, but perhaps can be simplified. Let us suppose that our hamburger restaurant pays its employees the equivalent value of two superburgers per hour, and cannot run the store with fewer than four employees. They must therefore sell eight superburgers an hour to pay those wages, plus let us guess two more to pay for the ingredients and energy to make them. If the state mandates that employees be paid more, let's say twenty-five percent more, that's an extra burger per hour going into wages for those four employees. However, the company is unlikely to be able to sell more burgers at the same price, so they have to find the money somewhere. They can hire fewer workers (or the same workers for fewer hours), but only if they can run the company on three instead of four employees. They can instead raise the price of the burger so that they are able to pay the wages on the same number of sales. However, they are unlikely to be able to continue selling the same burger at the same rate at the higher price, and so they will have to increase the price more than they increase the wages. Since the law ties the wage to the cost of everything, including the price of those burgers, that means that the increase in the price of the burger means another increase in the minimum wage. The price of everything escalates as everyone increases his own pay so as still to afford what he has always been able to afford before, and the value of the dollars which went into that increased minimum wage falls putting the recipients in no better position than they were. Rising wages without increased production is a fundamental cause of inflation; raising the wage to keep pace with inflation is chasing your tail.
No one opposed to this amendment opposes raising the minimum wage; they oppose putting such increases out of the control of the government, making it impossible for future legislatures to discuss what increase is right in the economic conditions that will exist in the future.
Again, tomorrow is Election Day. Vote.
The news in the gubernatorial race is not that Republican Governor Chris Christie and Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno were re-elected over Democratic challengers former State Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono and union leader Milly Silva, but that their margin of victory was larger than anticipated. Unofficial vote counts show the winners above sixty percent of the votes, against just thirty-eight percent for the challengers. Of the six other couples in the race, the best showings were from the Libertarians, at just over one half of one percent, and the Greens, at just under that mark. National observers are already talking of the 2016 Presidential race, in whether a conservative who compromises and does not tilt at windmills can take the Republican nomination and carry the country. Christie is still focused on being governor.
The ballot questions both passed strongly, eighty-one percent approving allowing veterans groups to raise money for their own benefit through games of chance such as lotteries and raffles, and sixty-one percent favoring tying the minimum wage to the cost of living index.
In the State Senate race, all incumbents were returned to office, and Democrat Peter Barnes captured the seat in District Eighteen that had been abandoned by Barbara Buono in her bid for governor. Thus the Democrats continue to hold the Senate in a twenty-four-to-sixteen majority.
Democrats also did well in the Assembly, although not quite as well, losing what at this point appears to be two seats to Republicans and leaving a forty-six-to-thirty-four majority. In District One, incumbent Nelson Albano lost his seat to Sam Fiocchi. Incumbent Democrat Timothy J. Eustace was ousted in favor of Republican Joseph L. Scarpa in a race in District Thirty-eight that was nearly a four-way tie (for two seats, the other held by a democratic incumbent) and might yet be contested. There were other changes in people that were not changes in party, when various incumbents chose not to run for re-election but were replaced by members of their own party. On the Democratic side, District Eighteen's Peter Barnes III was replaced by Nancy Pinkin, and in District Thirty-three, Ruben Ramos, Jr. and Sean Connors were replaced by Carmelo G. Garcia and Raj Mukherji. Among Republicans, Scott Ruder of District Eight was replaced by Maria Rodriguez-Gregg, and Robert Schroeder of District Thirty-nine by Robert Auth.
Congratulations to the winners, condolences to the losers, and now we hope that our new government can guide the state toward a bright future.