If voters decide that the lead candidates in the New Jersey governor’s race – Democratic incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican challenger Christopher Christie – aren’t viable choices on Nov. 3, who will they look at as an alternative?
Downtown Jersey City resident Phillip Rivo had the same question. He is already showing how far he will go by hosting a meet-and-greet with independent candidate Christopher Daggett this coming Tuesday, Oct. 6, at the Embankment Restaurant in Jersey City.
“Also, the frontrunners do not appeal to me.” – Phillip Rivo
“I am going to vote for Chris Daggett because he is socially liberal and yet is fiscally conservative,” Rivo said.
Daggett is not the only independent candidate running for office. There are 12 more individuals with a longer shot than Daggett vying for the hearts of the electorate, all hoping to move into the governor’s mansion, Drumthwacket, next year.
ABC: Anybody but Corzine and Christie
Besides Daggett, also on the ballot are Jason Cullen, Kenneth Kaplan, Joshua Leinsdorf, Alvin Lindsay Jr., David R. Meiswinkle, Greg Pason, Kostas Petris, Gary T. Steele, and Gary Stein. There are also three write-in candidates: Angela Lariscy, Eddie McOwskey, and the popular comedian Uncle Floyd.
That means there are alternatives for the 2.4 million independent voters in the state of New Jersey.
So who does voting for Daggett or another independent candidate hurt more – Christie or Corzine?
Recent polls show that independent voters lean toward voting for Christie, who holds a six to 10 point lead among that voter base when compared to Corzine. Daggett’s overall poll numbers are hovering at around 10 to 15 percent, an indication that he has gained more independent voters who have Democrat or Republican leanings as the election looms closer.
However, independents and undecided voters may be nudging closer to Corzine if polls put out by Quinnipiac University and Monmouth University last week are any indication as they show the governor cutting down Christie’s lead to four and three points respectively. And the numbers could change further as Corzine, Christie and Daggett debated on Thursday in Trenton.
A Daggett in the heart of Hudson County voters
Christopher Daggett is a former moderate Republican who once worked as deputy chief of staff for Gov. Tom Kean, a Republican. And he was the head of the state’s Department of Environmental Protection under Gov. Jim Florio, a Democrat.
Daggett also has connections to Hudson County, since he is a partner in a company that owns 25 percent of the much-talked about 900 Garfield Ave. development site in Jersey City. That is a chromium-contaminated site in the city’s Bergen-Lafayette section scheduled to be cleaned up by the property’s former owner, PPG Industries, over the next five years before the site can be developed for residential housing.
Does Jersey City, and for that matter Hudson County, have a place in Daggett’s campaign?
Daggett’s spokesperson, Tom Johnson, said there was “no grand Hudson County strategy,” and “I don’t know where we are strongest in Hudson County.”
“We are not targeting specific towns; this is a statewide campaign,” Johnson said. “We are going where we are invited.”
Daggett will be coming not just to the Embankment Restaurant on Tuesday but also to speak to the Jersey City Rotary Club on Oct. 29 at Casino-in-the-Park in Lincoln Park in Jersey City.
Why another option?
Phillip Rivo has been a registered Democrat since he turned 18. One of the reasons he takes issue with Corzine is his inability to come down hard on Democrats locally, such as those who were arrested in an FBI corruption sting on July 23.
“I am not saying Corzine is corrupt, but his silence is deafening about what has happened in Hudson County,” Rivo said.
However, Corzine did push local mayors to resign after they were arrested, including Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano.
Rivo also is concerned with Corzine’s perceived lack of support on issues such as charter schools, which Rivo’s children attend, and dealing with fiscal problems like the state’s pension system.
However, Christie is not the alternative for Rivo. Rivo believes the Republican is “ethically challenged” because of recent revelations about his driving record and his loan to a former subordinate while working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, and “socially out of step” due to his stances on abortion and the environment.
Rivo also doesn’t like Christie’s affiliation with former President George W. Bush, who appointed Christie as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey in 2002.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.