The last thing this liberal member of the media elite -- as perceived by many of our readers -- ever expected to do was vote for a Republican like Chris Christie for governor and reject incumbent Jon Corzine (pictured). But in my home state of New Jersey, the Democrats are more often part of the problem rather than the solution. My disgust with the party of my registration is a long time coming.
Why should Republicans be the only ones to dislike high taxes, corruption and fiscal mismanagement?
Taxes in New Jersey are unbelievable: My monthly tax bill is equivalent to half my mortgage payment. New Jersey's state/local tax burden of 11.8% of income is the highest in the country, well above the national average of 9.7%, according to the Tax Foundation, which says the state's business-tax climate ranks 50th, that is, dead last in the nation. The Star Ledger of Newark reports that the average property tax bill is now $7,045, which eats up about 10 percent of the annual income in the average New Jersey household. The state budget is projected to be $8 billion short for the next fiscal year.
Corruption is horrendous. Dozens of people were recently arrested in one of the biggest scandals in years. In July, former State Sen. Wayne Bryant, once one of the most powerful people in Trenton, was sentenced to four years in federal prison for trading his clout as budget chairman for a job at a state medical school that required little work to boost his taxpayer-funded pension.
Former State Sen. Joseph Coniglio reports to prison Nov. 9 to serve a 30-month sentence on federal corruption charges. The mayors of Secaucus and Hoboken resigned after being caught up in corruption scandals. Former Gov. Jim McGreevey grabbed worldwide headlines for his admission that he had an affair with a man. His lover -- who claims McGreevey sexually harassed him -- was given a job overseeing homeland security in the state, something he wasn't remotely qualified to do.
Attack Ads and a Fizzled "Comeback"
Corzine came to office in the wake of the McGreevey scandal, promising to restore fiscal discipline to Trenton. Though he was caught in a mess left by other governors, the former Goldman Sachs (GS) chairman and co-CEO always seemed aloof and oddly detached whenever he tried to connect with the state's citizens. He was no stranger to backroom deals with political bosses to get things done.
And his campaign ran some of the nastiest political commercials in the state's history including one attacking Christie -- who weighs about 300 pounds -- for being too fat.
For a little while, the tactic worked. Corzine even pulled ahead of Christie in some late polls after trailing badly at the campaign's outset. Just last week, I dubbed the former banker the "comeback kid." That nickname was premature. For a second, I forgot that Barack Obama wasn't on the ballot in this election. The same applies to Virginia, where Republican Bob McDonnell defeated Democrat Creigh Deeds, by many accounts a terrible candidate.
This election, though, should be a warning to the Democrats to take no one for granted, not even someone like me -- who knocked on doors for their candidate during the presidential election.