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.