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Why Christie Won

by Adam Richman

the people of NJ were just fed up with the current guy in charge
Chris Christie’s recent victory in the New Jersey gubernatorial election has been heralded by some political prognosticators as an ill-omen for the Democratic Party in the 2010 Congressional Elections and even in the 2012 Presidential Election. I beg to differ. Sure, a Democratic incumbent losing to a Republican challenger when the Democratic candidate managed to outspend his opponent by millions of dollars in a heavily Democratic state despite the support of the President and Vice-President says something, but I just can’t bring myself to believe that what it means is that the Renaissance of the Democratic Party led by Barack Obama is over. What all of the pundits predicting an imminent return of the GOP to the heights of power based off of Christie’s win seem to be missing is that Jon Corzine was not popular in New Jersey.

For years, citizens of New Jersey have had to deal with corruption and high taxes. Despite the tax burden, New Jersey always seemed to be facing a budget shortfall that necessitated the trimming of state services, the raising of taxes, or the deferment of spending on necessary items (sometimes even a combination of all three). Yes, Corzine did suffer from the ill-luck of running for reelection when the state and the country are still climbing out of recession and the road to complete recovery looks as rocky as ever. The sudden recession meant that tax revenues dropped, which only exacerbated the preexisting budget deficit. Even before the recession hit, Corzine raised the sales tax, but most of the money that came from that did not go towards closing the budget shortfall, but instead was used to restore the politically popular property tax rebates.

The property tax rebates are only a symptom of how people saw things work under Corzine. The perennial budget problems meant that something had to be done, but whenever the Governor sold the state on a tough to swallow issue, like raising taxes, it seemed to make no difference. People saw the money as pouring down an endless rat hole of corruption or being used in politically cynical maneuvers designed to make sure that Corzine’s first term would not be his last. When the recession hit, people finally had enough. High levels of unemployment mean that lots of people no longer have money coming in to care for their families, let alone feed a political machine. Federal aid was not as available, as the government had other priorities than propping up a state’s unsupportable spending habits. Towns and counties looking for help to the state saw none forthcoming as the state had no money to balance its own budget, let alone bail out local government.

Chris Christie will be the next governor of New Jersey, not because he is the herald of a national groundswell of Republican renewal, but because people in New Jersey were fed up with high taxes, a never ending budget deficit, and limitless with corruption. The hardships of the recession, especially with the continuing levels of high unemployment, were simply the straw that broke the voters’ backs. In short, never attribute to a grand political revival what you can always mark down as people just being fed up with the current guy in charge.

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