Do you agree, Blue Jersey? – promoted by Rosi
Right now, the New Jersey Democratic Party seems lost at sea. Factions are breaking out all over the State along regional and ideological divides. Governor Christie has masterfully exploited these cracks and enacted sweeping reforms of once untouchable issues like pension and healthcare benefits for public employees. As 2013 looms, there is no clear cut favorite to challenge Christie.
Right now I think there are three names to look out for: former Governor Richard Codey, Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono, and Congressman Rob Andrews.
I’m making a few assumptions in developing this short list. First, based off public statements and actions, I don’t think Newark Mayor Cory Booker has any interest in challenging Christie. He seems more interested in heading to Washington – either as a US Senator or member of the Obama Administration. Next, having Andrews as the “South Jersey” candidate eliminates other rumored South Jersey candidates like Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald.
I know George Norcross is smart enough to get his entire organization behind one candidate, and Andrews makes the most sense for a slew of reasons. He has the strongest progressive credentials, has the highest name identification from previous statewide runs, and has the oratorical skills for a toe-to-toe matchup with Christie. I think the Norcross Machine gets behind Andrews and takes one last shot at launching him into statewide office.
It’s no secret Senator Buono has an interest in taking on Christie. She has been the strongest progressive voice against his policies and has been touring the State for most of the past year. She is strong on liberal causes and is a woman in the male dominated New Jersey – something that could appeal to a female electorate that has been under assault by the Christie Administration. Her biggest problem is organizational support (including locking down Middlesex County where she was on the wrong side of the Chairmanship battle this past month) to have a chance at victory. The “outsider” strategy she has adopted can only take her so far. In order to gain any kind of traction, she is going to need some institutional organization.
That brings us to who I consider the wild card in this entire process: former Governor Richard Codey. Popular, affable, and an axe to grind with New Jersey’s party bosses, he might be the only candidate that could overcome this uphill battle against Democratic power brokers aligned with Gov. Christie. The biggest question around a potential Codey candidacy is does he want to run? We all know he loved being Governor, but does he want to take on this type of race this late in his career?
Regardless of who our nominee is come June 2013, the healing process needs to start now with New Jersey Democrats to come together and unseat a Governor with a string of legislative victories already under his belt and a national donor network to tap into.