Politics

GOP Contender Seeks Upset in New Jersey Gubernatorial Race

In heavily Democratic New Jersey, where President Obama won 57 percent of the vote last year, a GOP contender is looking to pull off an upset.

In the Republican corner stands former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who is trying to take advantage of the unfavorable political climate for Gov. Jon Corzine, whose administration is under a cloud of suspicion for misusing taxpayer funds.

Corzine, a multimillionaire former Goldman Sachs chief executive, has spent $17 million -- mostly from his own fortune -- hammering Christie, who's spent less than a third of that.

But the throw-the-bums-out attitude is high in New Jersey. Garden State unemployment is at a 30-year high of 9.8 percent. Polls routinely show that more than half of the state's voters view Corzine unfavorably. He's struggling to avoid becoming the first Democratic governor to lose re-election in the Obama era. Though Christie has never trailed in the polls, his lead has shrunk to a virtual tie.

The latest Q survey shows Christie at 41 percent, a virtual tie with Corzine, at 40 percent.

More On This...

The Independent candidate, Chris Daggett, is pulling 14 percent of the vote. He is a former Republican and much of his support would otherwise go to Christie.

Meanwhile, the gubernatorial race has turned ugly with both camps trading accusations and insults.

Corzine has unleashed withering attacks emphasizing Christie's ethics and obesity. One ad claims Christie "threw his weight around" and shows him walking in slow motion, highlighting his girth.

Corzine has been put on the defensive by accusations of using taxpayer salaried government officials to help Corzine's re-election campaign.

Corzine denies wrongdoing even in the face of an e-mail by one of this top aides directing state officials to promote the governor's policies as successful.

"Come up with an event or two or three that show job creation or economic development in the private sector," Corzine's state house deputy chief of staff wrote. "I know that it might be a stretch for some of you, but please be creative."

Corzine's aides used the Freedom of Information Act to investigate Christie and found that as a federal prosecutor, Christie sometimes stayed at five-star hotels that exceeded guidelines for taxpayer funded travel when staff could not find less expensive lodging.

"I didn't make my own hotel reservations," Chrstie said in defense of himself.