Gov.'s Wall St. past clouds re-election

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: I sort of can't believe I'm saying this, but campaign season is upon us once again. President Obama spent some time in New Jersey this afternoon. He was stumping for Gov. Jon Corzine. Corzine's in a tough re-election fight as the recession takes its toll on the Garden State. Obviously the economy won't help the incumbent. Neither will what Corzine used to do for a living -- helping run Goldman Sachs. Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson reports.


JEREMY HOBSON: Last time Jon Corzine ran for governor, it was 2005. Being a former Wall Street guy was kind of an asset. My, how things have changed.

CAMPAIGN AD: Governor Jon S. Corzine's reputation as a supposed financial wizard is officially dead. It will take more than a recovery to get New Jersey back on track. It will take a new governor.

That's an ad from Corzine's republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie. Christie's running a standard anti-incumbent, pro-tax-cut campaign. Steve Adubato is a veteran political analyst and author of "What Were They Thinking?"

He says Christie's campaign is echoing concerns a lot of New Jerseyans now have about Governor Corzine.

STEVE ADUBATO: Hey, wait a minute, if you're that good, who cares what the economy's like? That's why we hired you, because you can get us out of this. Well, you don't have the luxury when you're a candidate for re-election to say, "Could you be patient with me?" Doesn't work that way.

New Jersey's unemployment rate is 9.2 percent, far from the worst in the nation. But state residents pay the highest property taxes in the country, at more than 6 percent. And the state is facing a budget deficit of as much as $10 billion.

ADUBATO: You know it's like when you live in New Jersey our slogan should be at least we're not California.

Adubato says Chris Christie hasn't presented much of an economic plan himself, but if things get worse between now and November, he may not have to.

Voters Robert Michelena and Mary Johnson in Jersey City don't think much of Governor Corzine.

ROBERT MICHELENA: He may have come from Wall Street, but he's a classic tax and spend liberal. That's all he is.

MARY JOHNSON: I don't know who should be the next governor, but I'm looking for it to be somebody who can handle what's happening now.

With sentiment like that, and polls that have the governor well behind Chris Christie, Corzine may be considering his Trump card...literally. There's a rumor he'll appoint, as the state's first-ever lieutenant governor, Randall Pinkett. Pinkett is a young African-American and winner of Donald Trump's TV show "The Apprentice."

I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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