Sunday, May 17, 2009

Round II: Edge Christie, Barely

Steve Lonegan outperformed Chris Christie for much of the second televised debate of the gubernatorial campaign, which was broadcast today. If the nomination hinged solely on this debate performance, Lonegan would be the nominee.

However, the nomination hinges on what happens over the next two weeks.

Lonegan fell into a Christie trap which the former U.S. Attorney will use relentlessly to raise doubts about Lonegan on the stump, in mailers, and in radio and TV ads.

Lonegan said, in his answer to Christie's question, that he would allow terrorists presently detained at Gitmo to be jailed in New Jersey, should President Obama close the terrorist detention center in Cuba. The former Bogota Mayor almost avoided the trap in his initial answer, but took the bait, hook, line and sinker, when Christie pressed for a yes or no on follow up. Watch Christie's reaction closely to Lonegan's answer. He put the answer in his pocket as if it was what he came for.

Except for that one gaffe, Lonegan performed much better than he did in the NJN debate last Tuesday. He staid on message and used every opportunity he could to contrast his message to Christie's. Not once did he say he agreed with Christie, as he said several times in the previous debate, after declaring that he would use that debate to make a clear case that he was the best candidate.

Lonegan scored some points in defending his flat tax plan, which has become the focal point of both campaigns. By revealing that "the independent analysis" that said the flat tax would raise taxes on 70% was written by the same former State Treasurer, Peter Laurence, who advocated the ill advised 9% state pension increase given to state workers the last time Republicans controlled Trenton, Lonegan painted Christie as a member of the Whitman/DiFrancesco establishment. Christie contributed to this impression by referring to the analysis as "ours" where he has previously referred to it as "independent."

If the rest of the campaign is like the last couple of weeks, a debate about Lonegan's flat tax plan, Lonegan could gain ground as he explains it and raises doubts about Christie for his lack of specifics about his tax plan. However, Lonegan assured that he will be fighting at least a two front war over the last weeks of the campaign when he gave Christie the terrorist detention issue to hammer him with.

For Christie's part, with a lead in the polls and more money in the bank, he appeared to be running out the clock for much of this debate. He was less animated than he was on Tuesday and didn't "hit any out of the park." His self-depreciating joke, that he went to law school because he was not good at math or science, will be the subject of some Lonegan material, but it was not nearly the gaffe that Lonegan's terrorist answer was.


Chris said...

I watched and I was hoping for some good news from Christie, but unfortunately there weren't more than 2-3 answers that were better than Lonegan's for me...

As for the Gitmo detainees issue, the administration can send anyone to any federal prison in NJ without having to ask the Governor.

Now if Lonegan can convince me he can rally the NJ republicans and beat Corzine, he's got my primary vote.

Baba O'Riley said...

Fat chance, Chris.

He openly criticized the Senate Minority leader on a vote.

You can disagree too, but when your a Gubernatorial candidate tasked with leading the party in November, it may help to not insult the Senate Minority Leader and have a consultant who openly despises the Assembly Minority Leader.

You may not agree with the votes of Tom Kean Jr. or his positions, but there was no need for Lonegan to go out of his way to take a shot at him and Senator Kyrillos as well. This is exactly why he can't win. Because nobody will follow except his current supporters. Kean Jr. was the first prominent Republican to jump to Lonegan's defense after Corzine's lackeys arrested him outside the toll hike protest, and this is what he gets in return?

stopthesocialists said...

Absolutely Baba O. Lonegan's whole strategy of attacking and denigrating anyone who supports Christie is not the way to build a coalition of support. That is why our only hope in November is Chris Christie, who only went after Lonegan to defend himself against the avalanche of negative ads. I find it very disappointing that Steve thinks this strategy will make him anything more than this year's sacrificial lamb should he get the nomination.

Anonymous said...

Round II edge to Christie, Barely? What, are you off your meds? Lonegan kicked him all over the joint. He showed Christie for what he really is, an empty suit put up by the RINO leadership. Christie has no plan, no ideas and no clue on how to fix the problems in Jersey. Like Lonegan told him, "You can't lawyer your way out of these problems".

Vin said...

I have yet to see a Chris Christie sign anywhere in Monmouth County - yes, i see a Lonegan sign on just about every single street in every town in monmouth county, even in asbury! an observer, doesn't Christie have a field operation here?

Baba O'Riley said...

Lawn signs don't vote....

RussOCNJ said...

Anyone who has followed the election more than a couple months sees how Christie simply steals portions of the Lonegan plan as his own. People come in at the end and they don't realize what happened.

I just watched Hannity and I saw Christie use Lonegan's answer in the debate about not accepting stimulus money. Christie changed his position after he saw support for the Lonegan position. I don't believe anything Christie says after watching this. Lonegan keeps with the plan he wrote in his book from 2007, Putting Taxpayers First. I believe Lonegan, his story stays firm.

Most people don't care about Tom Kean and Republican loyalty. It is just a different group of people ripping them off. Wasn't Kean the guy who recently was whining because Corzine cut arts funding? These people are a joke and I want someone who rips these people.

It is Lonegan or I am taking my money to another state and you can all sit around voting for the Tom Keans of world in your socialist paradise (that is until the pensions come due).

Anonymous said...

am with ya, Russ, but there aren't enough of us!

Chris said...

Vin is right, there's only Lonegan signs around Middletown, Holmdel, Red Bank... Signs don't win elections, but for the regular person who doesn't read blogs or watch debates on Channel 62, Lonegan is getting good name recognition.