It is remarkable that in the state of New Jersey, two of the biggest personalities in all of American politics could be competing against each other for the governorship. Chris Christie and Cory Booker could be vying for the presidency at some point over the next decade. With the future of the Garden State, and potentially the nation, at stake, who would win this race?
Christopher J. Christie
Education: University of Delaware (B.A), Seton Hall University Law School (J.D)
Political Affiliation: Republican
Previous Experience: Morris County Freeholder (1994-1997), United States Attorney for the state of New Jersey (2002-2008)
Current Office: Governor of New Jersey
During his tenure in office, Governor Christie has championed fiscal responsibility by successfully balancing the budget of New Jersey over the last three years. Although many are quick to point out that balanced budgets are a constitutional requirement in NJ, former governor Jon Corzine left the state with an $8 billion budget deficit. Christie’s tactics for closing the gap included confronting the teacher’s union on public education spending, and proposing reforms to the pension system. This approach has created a sharp divide among voters.
On the other hand, his handling of the devastating super storm Sandy increased his support statewide to 69%, including for the first time a majority of households with at least one public worker. Governor Christie has enacted tough reforms over his four years, but his prospects for reelection are high.
Cory A. Booker
Education: Stanford University (B.A, M.A), Oxford University (M.A), Yale Law School (J.D)
Political Affiliation: Democrat
Previous Experience: Newark City Council (1998-2002)
Current Office: Mayor of Newark, New Jersey
After his first unsuccessful bid in 2002, Cory Booker became the mayor of Newark, NJ in 2006 with an agenda focusing on reducing the city’s crime rate, and improving the city’s finances. Mayor Booker has had substantial success combating crime in Newark, as the city had the largest reduction in violent crime nationwide from 2006-2008. Booker, in contrast to Christie, has pursued raising taxes and increasing the number of public employees in Newark as his means of combating the city’s economic woes.
If he decides to run in 2013, Booker presents a very formidable campaign challenge to the governor as he raised $7.5 million for his reelection bid in 2010. His rapport with celebrities as well as his popularity in Democratic circles will definitely provide him enough funding to legitimately compete for the governorship.
Although the poll numbers are in Christie’s favor (a recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll puts him ahead of Booker 53% to 34%), much of this can be attributed to the governor’s handling of Sandy. Simultaneously, Christie’s budget battles and reputation within New Jersey provides him with significant political capital that will help him in reelection. Booker provides the Democrats the best chance of winning the New Jersey governorship in 2013, but it will be an uphill battle to defeat Christie.
The governor would win this hypothetical match-up, but do not be surprised if this election results in a narrow victory. Nonetheless, if this potential contest comes to fruition, the nation will be captivated by two of its premier politicians.