Archive for August, 2009

Of Oscar De La Hoya and Christie Whitman

Author: Rory B. Bellows

I really do not understand what the strategery of the Christie Campaign is at this point. Jon Corzine is out with a new commercial bludgeoning Christie for the infamous $46,000 loan to his subordinate. The goal here is to undercut Christie’s standing as Mr. Law and Order. To date, Corzine’s strategery to bombard Christie with negative attacks is showing some signs of working as the RealClearPolitics polling average show Corzine’s numbers increasing while Christie’s are decreasing. Granted, the movement is not yet substantial but Christie campaign’s message to New Jersey voters is …..

There is no Christie message. Nothing beyond we need to have hope because we can change governors. Wow. How original. That is a compelling message for an electorate that is overwhelmingly Democrat. The Star Ledger’s Paul Mulshine had wrote an outstanding columnwhere he compared the Christie strategy to a boxer who has built up an early round lead on points and wants to avoid any middle of the ring confrontations so his opponent does not have any opportunity to deliver a knockout blow.

Allow me to expand on that. One of the most famous fights of the last ten years was Oscar “The Golden Boy” De La Hoya versus Felix “Tito” Trinidad in September of 1999. Going into the fight, De La Hoya promised to put on a boxing exhibition. De La Hoya dominated the early rounds of the fights but never knocked Trinidad down. Deciding he had put on his exhibition, De La Hoya spent the final four rounds of the fight running around the ring not throwing any punches. Trinidad continued to be the aggressor while De La Hoya was content to dance and sit on what he thought was a safe lead on the Judges scorecards. When the fight ended, the Judges awarded Trinidad a majority decision in large part, because while he never knocked De La Hoya down, he was the fighter who was initiating the action.

There is a lesson here for the Christie Campaign. If you want the Judges, in this case the voters, to award you with a victory, you have to go out and demonstrate why you are the better candidate for the entirety of the fight. While Oscar De La Hoya felt piling up points in the early rounds was enough for victory, the Christie people believed winning the Republican nomination is as non-controversial fashion as possible was enough. They saw Corzine’s disgustingly low poll numbers and felt as long as they could emerge unscathed from the GOP nominating process they could sit on the voters’ discontent with Corzine and cruise to victory.
Corzine does not need to knock Christie out; he just has to make him an unacceptable choice. Corzine is going to keep throwing punches until the final bell and hope his flurries convince an electorate that thinks of itself as sophisticated liberals that they cannot vote for Christie and still tell their friends they are liberals.

Christie has an easy counter punch. He can define himself as the property tax cutter. In 1993, incumbent Democrat Jim Florio also faced an angry electorate after he raised taxes during his first term. The Republicans even took control of the legislature during the 1991midterm elections. Once she secured the nomination, Whitman campaigned on a platform of a 30% reduction in income taxes over the course of three years. Her campaign did not believe it was enough to win the early rounds and hope the voters had the incumbent so much anyone else will do. They knew they had to finish the fight and convince the Judges Whitman should be the winner.

Chris Christie can profit by learning from the examples of Oscar De La Hoya’s fight with Felix Trinidad, and Christie Whitman’s campaign against Jim Florio. One believed that dominating the early stages of the fight constituted an exhibition of overwhelming superiority and the other believed that you must fight to the end and not give anyone a chance to take victory away from you.


Where is the Christie Campaign?

Author: Rory B. Bellows

Okay, I know campaigns do not heat up until after Labor Day, but it sure looks like Chris Christie is content to run the Thomas Dewey Campaign. He is saying nothing and campaigning on nothing. The number one issue for New Jersey voters is property taxes. Every poll confirms this. The web ad on the front of never mentions the topic. Yes, it highlights the miserable economic condition of New Jersey, but it does nothing to define Chris Christie. Jon Corzine is spending millions to portray Christie as a Bush clone. The only way Christie can lose this race is if Jon Corzine is able to paint Christie as an unacceptable alternative.

Christie’s campaign is banking on the fact that the disapproval ratings for Jon Corzine are so high that voters in this state would elect anyone other than Jon the Taxer this November. This is a faulty assumption. While Chritie polls ahead of Corzine, the RealClearPolitics average shows him under 50% for the first time since he won the Republican nomination. Since Christie won the Republican nomination, not a day goes by where you do not see television ads that link Chris Christie to George Bush. Christie does not yet have the money to counter these ads so the only story told about Christie is the one Jon Corzine wants you to hear. Corzine’s negative attacks will hurt Christie. Democrats in New Jersey enjoy a huge natural advantage in party identification and there is a third party candidate in Chris Daggett who will raise enough money to qualify for matching campaign funds and participate in the debates. While Corzine is busy defining Christie, disaffected Democrats and Independents could either go home to Corzine or register their protest by voting third party.

Christie can easily nip any slip in the polls in the bud. Ironically, this involves Christie becoming a Bush clone. Former President Bush defined his campaigns by his ability to stay on message and drive a point home. In 2004, the White House steward would ask what he wanted for breakfast and he would respond with some variation of “You know where I stand. My opponent was for the $87 billion before he was against it”. Christie needs to adopt this single mindedness towards property taxes. Every appearance Christie makes, every press release his campaign puts out and every web ad his media team creates should focus on property taxes and Christie’s plan to cut them. The media section of Christie’s website only lists one release the entire summer that included property taxes in the title.

While voter attention will peak in the coming weeks, it was foolish for Christie not to prepare the electorate to believe that he is the man who can bring property taxes under control. Yes, last month’s massive corruption arrests provided Christie with some low-hanging fruit. Yes, it was easy to pounce on Jon Corzine for failing to deliver on ethics reform. However, New Jersey has been a massively corrupt state since Moses was in short pants. Voters just do not care. They did not care in 2005 coming off the resignation of Jim McGreevey. They did not care in 2006, 2007 or 2008. Republicans tried to make corruption in an issue in each of those election cycles and the electorate was so inspired that Republicans could not top 43% of the vote. By focusing on small issues, Christie is blowing the opportunity to define himself on the big issue.

Union Member punches citizen rallying against Obamacare

Author: Rory B. Bellows

So when do we see the old switcheroo

Author: Rory B. Bellows

Chris Chrisitie has expanded his lead in the Monmouth/Gannett Poll. Last month he lead Corzine by 8 points attracting 45% of the vote to Corzine’s 37. This month, Christie is at the magical 50% mark while Corzine’s support has dropped to 36%.

The number one issue is property taxes. Christie is fortunate no one is paying attention to his own proposals because they are a continuation of the failed Corzine policy of property tax rebates. I suppose the say nothing and do nothing Thomas Dewey campaign will actually work this time but it does nothing to advance the party or actually solve the problems the state faces. Now I am not big on problem solving candidates but continuing the Corzine rebates, and in fact pledging to expand them, but the fix here reuqires no expansion of government or spending. New Jersey is in a state of tax revolt. You don’t need anymore evidence than a Democrtaic Governor down 14 points in the polls. The Christie campaign should be about a gradual, 4 year phase out of the income tax, eliminating COAH and reforming state aide to schools so that suburban districts are not subsidizing urban schools. Gimmick rebates do nothing to address the underlying issues New jersey faces.

State socialism has failed. This maybe the only time in our life the people of New Jersey our willing to listen our ideas. We should be presenting them instead of only parroting Corzine to avoid saying nothing.