Last week, Chris Christie, former United States Attorney for the State of New Jersey, filed papers to run for the Republican Gubernatorial nomination. He joins what has now become a three-way race between Assemblyman Rich Merkt, Steve Lonegan (the former Mayor of Bogota), and himself. Should he win that Primary, he will likely face off against incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine.
Christie will either crash and burn or win handily in the Primary. He will not finish in the middle of the pack. Given the weak Republican field and Christie's high name recognition and experience, he likely will win easily, setting himself up for a difficult battle against a multi-millionaire Democratic Governor in a Democratic state.
Governor Corzine will not be as easy an opponent to defeat. He has no problem spending his personal fortune to secure re-election, all of the powers of incumbency, and is the leader of the majority party in the State of New Jersey. That said, Corzine can be defeated and Christie may just be the man to do it.
Christie has nearly a decade of experience in prosecuting political corruption in New Jersey, enabling him to claim the mantra of reform that the Governor has tried to embrace, at least publicly, during his tenure. In addition, Christie has the ability to attract Independents and moderate Democrats, without whom victory is impossible.
Christie also has liabilities. His involvement with the awarding of a $27M+ monitoring contract to former United States Attorney General John Ashcroft and his consulting firm raises questions about Christie's anti-corruption credentials. In addition, his prosecution of far more Democratic politicians than Republican during his tenure could raise suspicion as to whether he was objective in using the arm of the law to prosecute fairly and justly. Lastly, through his very public prosecutions, he has made many enemies who have powerful friends; they will likely do everything in their power to make sure he is not inaugurated Governor of New Jersey.
The odds are currently in Governor Corzine's favor. However, November 2009 is still a long time away. Should the public sour on President Obama and economic conditions continue to worsen, all Democratic incumbents will be in electoral danger, possibly creating the opening Christie needs to peel off just enough Independents and Democrats to win the Governor's mansion.