Will New Jersey Prefigure Obama's (and Republicans') Futures?

By Jon KrausharCommunications Consultant

Is New Jersey's 2009 governor's race, pitting incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine against Republican Chris Christie, a foreshadowing of the future for President Obama and Republican challengers?

Like Obama, Corzine:

  • Moved from a legislator's job as a U.S. senator to a chief executive's job, with a mandate to turn around a disastrous economic situation.
  • Linked his opponent to President George W. Bush and continues to blame the Bush administration for anything and everything while claiming disputable accomplishments by Democrats.
  • Indulged public employees' unions and organized labor, lavishly rewarding them with taxpayers' money.
  • Promised economic development through government-supported "green" businesses.
  • Envisioned public-private partnerships that would yield jobs and growth.
  • Pledged to hack away at wasteful government spending.
  • Enjoyed a Democratic majority to carry forward his agenda.
  • Campaigned to expand the role of government in health care, education, energy and the environment.

New Jersey's government is virtually bankrupt and Corzine is struggling, with an approval rating of about 40 percent--this in a state that is one of the most "blue" (Democratic) in the country. Corzine and Obama are close allies, both as prior members of "the world's most exclusive club"--former U.S. Senators--and as "progressives" (Big Government liberals). Corzine is relying on Obama to campaign vigorously for him.

Christie is a former U.S. Attorney who made his reputation convicting over 100 corrupt Democrats andRepublicans. If he can sell a reform agenda that convinces voters he can relieve the state's taxation and economic crises while he also comes across as likable, Christie just might win over enough disgruntled Democrats and Independents to beat Corzine.

In his primary night victory speech, Christie said, "You no longer want a governor who will promise and then disappoint. You just want someone that will tell the truth about the road ahead. So I will. The road ahead will not be easy. It will be filled with tough choices and sacrifice. But I know if we get back to the basics that have always made us great, that we can restore for people the hope and the faith and the trust that we want in our government."

In the 2010 mid-term elections, take Christie's first sentence and slightly adjust it to read, "You no longer want a presidentwho will promise and then disappoint." Rephrased that way with the rest of Christie's statement, you just might have a preview of the Republican script for the 2010 elections ifObama's economic recovery efforts go the way of Corzine's.

Wouldn't it be ironic if only a year from now Republicans are resurgent by running against the record of the opposing party's president, stealing Obama's and the Democrats' playbook from 2008?

In politics, history has a way of reversing itself on the way to repeating itself.

Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net.

Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net. He is a consultant to corporate and political leaders including Steve Forbes.