And the NJ Democratic Candidate For Governor Is….

Update Sunday, 2:45 PM: It’s not too late to vote your preference for the 2013 Democratic gubernatorial candidate and to join the lively discussion.

Candidates are already starting to position themselves.

Cast your vote in the poll beneath the fold and see the results so far.

Whom do you prefer? And, if you wish, tell us why.

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Comments (37)

  1. tabbycat31

    We need to employ a 21 county strategy and look for a candidate who will put up a fight in a county that Christie won hands down.  

    Looking at the election results archive, Christie won the following counties by about a 2-1 margin— Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Sussex, and Warren.  The first 3 on that list have a much higher population than the latter 2.  Using the list of candidates there, Frank Pallone would do well in his home county of Monmouth (and perhaps carry over to Ocean and flip back Middlesex to the blue column as that’s what most of his congressional district is) and Richard Codey, who’s new district includes parts of Morris County, put up a fight last year judging by the numbers (and he did a lot better than his running mates did in Morris County).  

    I’ll do a diary about this later (most likely after November), but there’s one other potential candidate to consider— the loser of the CD9 primary.

  2. MSUTeenDem

    willing to support almost any candidate that isn’t a puppet of the Norcross machine (including Sweeney & Booker).

    Codey is a great guy but his chance I feel was in 2005. Buono should get the nomination.  

  3. Jay Lassiter

    the sooner the better.  

  4. zi985

    I really like Senator Buono who has a strong progressive track record and a record of independence in bucking some of the Democratic machines but it doesn’t seem like she would be able to effectively combat Christie head on.  Christie’s style (as we are all too familiar with at this point) is very direct and bombastic, “Jersey style” which is tough to tackle head on.  Buono, who is soft-spoken and the complete opposite of Christie in regard to his personality, I think would fail to overcome this stark difference that allowed Christie, in part, to win in 2009.  Again, I really like Buono but in order to beat Christie and the power and name recognition he has cultivated in NJ over the last three years we need someone to fight him head on.

    Senator Codey would have better odds of beating Christie but still has some challenges.  Christie will paint him as a Trenton insider (he’s been serving in the NJ State Legislature since 1974) who is partisan and unwilling to compromise on anything.  However, he does have executive experience having served as Governor for 14 months and he had a fairly good, non-controversial track record while serving in that capacity.  I still think Christie would out-do him in the personality area but Codey would be able to hold his own.

    I don’t think Frank Pallone is seriously contemplating running against Christie (he’s eyeing the elder Frank’s Senate seat in 2014).  He’s very similar to Buono in that he has a strong progressive record but he’s too soft spoken to beat a guy like Christie.  Christie would also paint him as a “DC insider” who’s been a career politician for the past 30 years since he first served on the Long Branch City Council in 1982, the NJ Senate in the mid ’80s, and in Congress for 24 years.

    I think Cory Booker would be the strongest candidate to tackle Christie head on.  He’s charismatic, relatively new to NJ politics (compared to the others that we’re talking about) and would be the most effective Democratic voice against Christie.  His executive experience running NJ’s largest city has been impressive (yes, I know there are some things that progressives get peeved about with regard to his school “reform” policies, etc.) but the fact of the matter is that he’s our best shot at taking out Christie in 2013.  If Booker doesn’t run for Governor then I think Codey would be the most effective candidate against Christie followed by Buono.

  5. 12mileseastofTrenton

    The only one who has actually been governor.  Remains generally popular with state residents.  Is tough.

  6. brendanod

    I’d get behind him if there was no alternative.  Booker supported Christie’s 2% cap nonsense and flogged Newark’s public sector unions using Christie’s typical line of bullshit.

    My vote is for Buono here.  Whomever the actual candidate is, that person would have to have opposed the pen/ben bill.  Christie won’t be beat if the dem’s are divided with the public sector unions opposed to a candidate who voted for pen/ben.

    To beat Christie the teachers, fire fighters, and cops who voted for him the 1st time around need to oppose him this time.    

  7. zi985

    It seems that among the likely Democratic possibilities for the Gubernatorial nomination progressives will have to choose between either Senator Buono or Senator Codey.  Can folks list the pros and cons between each of them if they were to both run in the June 2013 primary next year?

  8. sayitaintso

    but I don’t understand how they campaign against Christie.

    The personalities are starkly different.  The policies, not so much.

  9. Jersey Jazzman

    Remember this?

    Clinton cleaned Lazio’s clock, because she was smart, civil, and in control, and he looked like a blustering idiot.

    You don’t beat Christie by out-Christieing him; that’s impossible. You beat him by making him look like the out-of-control embarrassment to the state that he is.

    I’ve never bought into this notion that Christie is “popular” because we all want Snookie to run the state. I think a lot of folks didn’t realize what they were getting into with this guy.

    Let’s put up someone with some dignity.

  10. Bertin Lefkovic

    …think that Loretta Weinberg should have been in this poll.

    Dick Codey is my first choice, because I believe that his popularity in Republican parts of the state, which was earned through forthrightness and honest governing, not capitulation, gives him the best chance to defeat Christie, but if there was any chance that SML Weinberg might run, I would support her just for the sake of supporting her.

    As much as I like Buono, I do not want to see her replaced in the State Senate by Peter Barnes III, which will undoubtedly happen if she runs for Governor instead of re-election.  It is possible that the reason that she seems so committed to running is because she has been told that one way or another, MCDO Chairman Peter Barnes, Jr. is going to replace her with his son.

    If that is the case, I would be concerned about having a gubernatorial candidate who is not strong enough to stand up to her county’s party boss.  It was not that long ago that she was aligned with the Lynch and Spicuzzo political machines, which gives me some degree of pause as to how independent she might actually be if she were to win the Democratic nomination and defeat Christie.

    I think that Booker has his eyes on a 2014 senatorial campaign rather than a 2013 gubernatorial campaign and I think that most of the other state legislators on this list except Buono and Codey do not think that a run against Christie is winnable enough to risk their political futures.  Frank Pallone could be a very interesting dark horse candidate.

    What is most interesting is that neither Buono, Codey, nor Pallone have any allegiances to Norcross and if any of them won the Democratic nomination, there can be no doubt that Norcross would suppress the Democratic vote in the Norcrossippian counties.  In fact, I think the fact that there has been little to no talk of Rob Andrews running for Governor in 2013 proves that Christie is the only candidate who Norcross supports.

    That said, I believe that Norcross would still prefer to be able to hedge his bet with a Democratic nominee who is not a sworn enemy of his.  It is this reason why I think that Loretta Weinberg should run.  I think that if she ran, Norcross would give her the party lines in Norcrossippi and could possibly get her the party line in Hudson County.  She would undoubtedly have the line in Bergen as well.  Codey would have a lock on Essex, Morris, and Passaic Counties.

    If Lesniak’s failure to deliver Union County for Nia Gill in the CD10 congressional election is a testament to anything, it is how weak he has become since Christie defeated Corzine, Sweeney defeated Codey, and Norcross has funded his enemies in the pro-Christie Elizabeth Board of Ed.  As is, Lesniak’s loyalties would be torn between Codey and Weinberg.  Norcross could give Weinberg the edge in Union.

    If I am right about the way that these counties would go, then the small-d democratic counties of Red Jersey would become the ultimate battleground as they would be the only counties outside of Middlesex and possibly Mercer where Buono could win party lines.  Would Buono and Weinberg split the vote of progressives who want to elect NJ’s first Democratic woman Governor, enabling Codey to win with the support of moderates and progressives who want to beat Christie more than anything?  I think so.

    If Pallone runs, the only county that I see him winning is his own, Monmouth.  Mercer could be an interesting battleground for him against Buono if he were endorsed by his congressional colleague, Rush Holt, but I think that with the support of the likes of Linda Greenstein and Shirley Turner, Buono would probably beat Pallone there with or without Holt’s support.  If he does not pull off any upsets in Hunterdon, Somerset, Sussex, or Warren Counties, I think that he would have no choice but to drop out and endorse Buono, maintaining the support that he needs in Middlesex to keep his congressional seat going forward and ensuring her the party line in Monmouth.

    These results would give Weinberg the party lines in 11 counties, Codey 7 counties, and Buono 3 counties.  The only way that Buono could possibly win the nomination under these circumstances is to run opposition slates with county and legislative candidates in the other 18 counties.  Considering the fact that her political career would be on the line, I think that she might do this.  Codey could as well in the other 14 counties.  Weinberg is probably the least likely to do this, but if Norcross is backing her candidacy, you never know what could happen.

    A three-way gubernatorial primary election between Buono, Codey, and Weinberg would undoubtedly be the most exciting that our state has ever seen, far surpassing the Andrews-McGreevey-Murphy lesser of lessers race in 1997.  It could even be as exciting as the 2008 Clinton-Obama Presidential primary election.  Even if all three ran opposition slates in the counties where they did not have organizational support, I think that Weinberg’s organizational edge would enable her to win a narrow victory over Buono and Codey.  If I had to guess percentages, I would give Weinberg 38%, Codey 32%, and Buono 30%.  If they do not run opposition slates, then I think her margin of victory would be larger with her getting 45-50% of the vote, Codey getting 30-35%, and Buono 15-20%.

    It will be interesting to see if Christie runs for re-election unopposed or faces another challenge from Steve Lonegan or someone else on the Republican fringe.  I wonder if Scott Garrett has any gubernatorial ambitions.  Garrett could probably raise more money for a run against Christie than Lonegan can and if Mitt Romney loses to Barack Obama this November, the TPM could be looking to do some bloodletting in 2009 and the best way that they could prevent Christie from becoming an inevitable candidate like Romney is to derail him next year.  If Christie doesn’t face a serious primary election challenge next year, I wonder if Republicans will register as Democrats and vote in Democratic primary elections.

  11. Anzana

    to beat the Nordubato/Christie oligarchy the candidate must be able to excite as many slices of the Democratic coalition as possible so as to offset the votes that machine would have been able to turn out, since the machines will be idled to help Christie again.

    A viable candidate would need to appeal to women, minorities, progressives, young voters, labor, environmentalists, LGBT voters, and maybe even public workers so that these blocks would be inspired to vote without the machine to get them to the polls.

    The candidate also would need to raise big bucks to take on Christie without the financial backing of the machine, and a semi-national profile would help in this regard, particularly someone already familiar to Hollywood and Wall Street donors and who can tap into the Obama network.

    Lisa Jackson is this candidate but who knows if she feels like coming back to NJ.  

  12. zi985

    No one has discussed the very real possibility that Christie might decide NOT to run for re-election in 2013, instead focusing on running for President in 2016.  Being Governor of NJ is a full-time job and it would prove very difficult to be both a sitting Governor of NJ while running for President for at least two whole years (early 2015-November 2016).  He could pull what Romney did back in 2006 and announce that he’s had a “successful” term as Governor of NJ and that it’s time for him to move on, thus freeing him to run for President full-time until 2016.  The last incumbent Governor of New Jersey to run for President was Woodrow Wilson 100 years ago.  When he ran for President in 1912 it was a much different system than today.  He received the Democratic nomination for President on the 46th Ballot of the Democratic National Convention held in Baltimore in early July 1912.  Wilson only had to campaign full-time for President for a full 4 months without having to compete in a primary election.  Christie won’t want to quit being Governor of NJ in early 2015 to run for President because that would obviously look really bad to resign mid-way into your second term in office so the logical step for him would be to end his tenure as Governor on January 21, 2014.    

  13. carolh

    I went to vote for her but her name isn’t even here….

  14. skelly16

    There are only two major elections next year: NJ and VA gubernatorial races. Given how important Chris Christie is to the Republican party now, there is going to be so much money thrown at him its going to be crazy. The ONLY way we can win is with a candidate who can really raise a comparable sum and that man is Cory Booker. I love Barbara Buono and I actually love all of these candidates listed. I even have my own criticisms of Mayor Booker but it doesnt take away from the fact that we need his ability to raise money. Furthermore, he is the only candidate that has consistently beat Christie in polls. He’s always leading the Democratic primary polling as well. We can’t forget that even though every day we try and show the voters of New Jersey  how horrible our governor is, he still has higher approval ratings than the president (over 50%) which means his re-election will be easier than we think. When you think about the factors:

    =high approval rating

    =tons of money

    =high name recognition

    =low democratic voter turnout in non-pres years(particularly in African-American and Hispanic communities)

    Chris Christie is going to skate to re-election with many of these candidates. Cory Booker is our best option, he’s very popular across the state, he can raise absurd amounts of money, he has very high name recognition and perhaps he could help boost democratic voting numbers in some African-American districts. I don’t love Cory Booker, he’s not my favorite candidate but he makes the most sense and he gives us our best shot at winning Drumthwacket next year.  

  15. firstamend07

    If Christie runs he will win.

    But he will not run in 2013.

    After Obama wins Christie will not want to get bogged down in state politics. He will begin to operate the same way that Romney operated and go for the GOP presidential bid. Staying in this State will only hurt him on a national level.

    In 2013 Sweeney will eke out a primary win while Booker is promised his shot at lautenbergs seat.

    A Sweeney/Weinberg ticket  will beat out either Guadgano or a tea party type in 2013 and Booker will win the senate seat in 2014.

    Obama wins, Christie leaves,Sweeney and Booker move up.

    Book it!  


  16. zi985

    No one has mentioned The Boss, Mr. Bruce Springsteen, running for Governor against Christie in 2013.  Check out this Politico article about a possible Springsteen bid for Governor:

    I think if he were to run he would be completely independent of any all Democratic party bosses and machines and would be able to easily win the primary.  He could self-finance his campaign and rail against Christie effectively.  Christie will be very tough to be if he decides to run for re-election and Springsteen might just be the progressive hope we’ve all been waiting for.  A Public Policy Polling poll from July 2011 has Springsteen and Christie in a virtual tie at 42%-42%; http://www.publicpolicypolling…  

    While Christie has a 43% approval rating and 53% disapproval, Springsteen has a 50% approval rating and 22% disapproval rating (with 28% unsure).  Celebrity turned politician has worked before and it could work again, except this time we’d be electing a celebrity who was a strong progressive.


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