On the Governor’s Race

Can a Democrat quash the Chris Christie juggernaut toward a second term? It will be an uphill battle, but the answer is “yes” if the Democrats do things right.

To win, the Democrats need to run a flawless campaign, from strategic and tactical perspectives.

The Democrats must excite the “blue” communities of New Jersey the way Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012.

And in addition to nominating the right candidate at the top of the ticket, the Democrats must nominate a candidate for Lieutenant Governor who can add to the enthusiasm. Normally, the choice of a number two is not a big factor, but this election is different:

  • In a close election, the right LG candidate might produce the margin of victory.
  • Governor Christie’s LG is dogged by controversy, and could be a liability for him.
  • Since Christie is running for President in 2016, he’ll be out of state a lot, and the Democrats need to stress that if Christie wins, his LG will be making more of the executive decisions than usual – and may ascend to the top spot if, God forbid, Christie becomes President. Is Kim Guadagno ready to assume the role? I think not.

There are a number of good Democrats who are in contention for the top spot. So far, Senator Barbara Buono is the only declared candidate, and has, by far, the best chance to topple Christie. She is, after all, a progressive in a blue state. Having a woman at the top of the ticket will help with Independents and with Republican women who are fed up with the direction their party has taken, especially when it comes to women’s and children’s issues.

The other Democrats who have been mentioned would be an order of magnitude better than Chris Christie, but are not as likely to be able to pull an upset as Barbara Buono.

Harry Truman is reported to have said, “Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time.” That’s why Senate President Stephen Sweeney would not be able to defeat Chris Christie. Don’t get me wrong. I like Sweeney. He’s been good to Blue Jersey and has been a leader in the marriage equality struggle, even though he’s from a relatively conservative part of the state. But despite his protestations that he’s a lot different, his actions on public sector unions put a sour taste in the mouths of those whose support is needed for a Democratic victory.

Richard Codey, the other major unannounced candidate, would the “been there, done that” candidate. He’d make a great governor (again), but I don’t think he could generate the excitement that would get on-the-fence Democrats to the polls.

Of course, Buono is an outsider, having been relegated to the back bench by the Democratic power structure after having served as Majority Leader. But with the right running mate, she can unify the Sweeney/Norcross and DiVincenzo wings of the party and generate the buzz that’s needed to overcome Christie’s bluster and money advantage. Her running mate must add diversity to the ticket in order to help muster the excitement and commitment needed for a victory.

So what candidate could provide that diversity for a 59-year-old white female progressive outsider from Central Jersey with roots in North Jersey? Someone who is ambitious, smart, hard-working – a person of color who has roots inside the New Jersey power elite and brings out the more conservative South Jersey Democratic voters.

We are lucky to have such a person. I’ve never seen anyone work quite as hard as Troy Singleton, and he would be my recommendation for Lieutenant Governor. The 39-year old Singleton is in his first term as an Assemblyman, but is no stranger to the machinations of Trenton. A George Norcross Democrat, he was the chief of staff to former Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts. Singleton is a dedicated family man, a public union supporter, an early supporter of marriage equality, and I think he’s also a magician. His involvement in the community convinces me that he has the ability to be many places at once. He’s ambitious, and it’s only a matter of time before he runs at the top of the ticket.

Singleton is my Assemblyman, and while we don’t always agree, he never fails to take the time to hear me out. While we agree more than we disagree, when we do disagree, he’s respectful and understanding – a refreshing change from our current governor.

Buono and Singleton complement each other in their political standings and they bring diversity to the ticket.  More importantly, they bring the excitement that will bring the Democrats to the polls and will send Chris Christie packing.

Comments (8)

  1. toaonua

    Buono/Singleton. That’s an interesting thought.

    Agree w/ you in full on this assessment. And you hit the mark with the Lt. Gov. importance – do we REALLY want Kim Guadagno for Governor should Christie (heaven forbid!) run in 2016 and win?

    Nice thoughtful & thought-provoking post!

  2. zi985

    I think there are many good candidates for the Democratic Lieutenant Governor spot.  Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula would be another great candidate for the #2 spot, for whomever the Democratic Gubernatorial candidate turns out to be.  He has shown himself to be an active, aggressive campaigner who can raise a lot of money and speak eloquently on important issues facing NJ.  He would also excite NJ’s large Indian and South Asian community.  One question though: if a NJ State Assemblyperson/Senator is chosen to be the Lieutenant Governor candidate (probably in July) would they be allowed to also run for re-election to the General Assembly/State Senate this year?  If Troy Singleton or Upendra Chivukula were chosen would they not be allowed to run for re-election to the Assembly this November?  Senator Loretta Weinberg was not up for re-election to the State Senate in 2009 so she didn’t face that dilemma but I wonder what the rule is regarding that this time around?

  3. rubybegone

    today with his intensive remark ,who’s next ?

  4. 12mileseastofTrenton

    he’s not a “George Norcross Democrat.”

  5. 12mileseastofTrenton

    Pamela Lampitt ticket.  The result of a deal between Codey and the Norcross and DiVincenzo machines.  With the machines sitting on their hands in the fall.  Letting Codey have the nomination, but making sure he doesn’t win the election.

  6. deciminyan (Post author)

    I believe there’s a law that says you can’t run for Gov/LG and legislature at the same time. So Chivukula or Singleton would have to risk losing their seat.

    Chivukula is another good choice. He is also very smart and has been a good friend to Blue Jersey. But two candidates from Central Jersey might not be a good mix.

  7. Bertin Lefkovic

    The State Senate wasn’t running for re-election in 2009, so this wasn’t an issue, but the LG candidate is not on the primary election ballot, so I don’t think that there is any reason that someone who is chosen as the gubernatorial nominee’s running mate would be unable to run for re-election in the general election.

    I could be wrong about this, but I do not think that I am.  If I am, then this was a poorly written law, because it is one thing to choose between running for Governor and re-election and another thing entirely to be selected to be someone’s running mate after you have already been nominated/renominated.

    There is no good reason that someone should have to put their entire political career on the line to be someone else’s running mate, particularly when there is a process in place to fill a vacated office after the fact.

    I would like to see a Codey/Buono ticket.  Barbara Buono is a very young 59-year-old who is in better physical shape than most men and women half her age.  She could easily run for Governor eight years from now after serving as Codey’s LG and Commissioner of Education or Health or Labor.

  8. deciminyan (Post author)

    I should have said “private sector union supporter.” Sorry for the error.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *