Friday, October 09, 2009

Lieutenant-Governor Debate: Guadagno a Clear Winner

October 9, 2009 - 1:39am

By Alan Steinberg

I just returned to my home in West Orange from the Lieutenant- Governor debate at Monmouth University. Kim Guadagno was a clear winner.

Kim projected competence, knowledge of issues, and even more importantly, empathy. She has genuine charisma and star quality. Regardless of whether Chris Christie wins or loses in November, she will someday be a Republican candidate for Governor.

Christie Whitman was the New Jersey Republican woman star from the aristocracy. Kim Guadagno is the new New Jersey Republican woman star from the meritocracy.

Frank Esposito demonstrated mastery of issues, particularly on education. Like Chris Daggett, however, he is without populist personal appeal.

Loretta Weinberg is a formidable state senator, but she has one major fault: super excessive partisanship. When this negative quality is on display, Weinberg loses credibility. Two examples of this tonight stand out.

In responding to a question on property taxes, Weinberg first started reciting the tired litany of “eight years of George W. Bush” being the cause of all our problems, including property taxes.

It is one thing to blame the policies of George W. Bush for the recession. Serious economic students know that the current national economic situation also has roots in the Clinton administration decisions to expand subprime mortgages and refrain from regulating credit default swaps. Nevertheless, the current recession began on George W. Bush’s watch, and Democratic candidates are not acting unreasonably in blaming him for our present economic woes.

It is another matter altogether for Loretta Weinberg to attempt to blame George W. Bush for New Jersey’s skyrocketing property taxes. That partisan line of attack is ludicrous on its face.

The other major gaffe by Weinberg was her attempt to rationalize Jon Corzine’s negative commercial attacking Chris Christie for his automobile accident. This irrelevant commercial has backfired badly on the Governor, and Weinberg made the situation even worse by trying to justify a patently offensive campaign advertisement.

Three other thoughts came to mind while watching the debate.

1. Christie and Guadagno are in a stronger political position in blaming New Jersey’s current “crisis of affordability” on Corzine rather than the current economic recession.

It is true that New Jersey’s economy is in worse economic shape than neighboring states, and Christie and Guadagno are wise to emphasize that fact. Nevertheless, politically, Corzine can largely get away with blaming New Jersey’s economic woes on George W. Bush.

Corzine and Weinberg however cannot succeed in blaming Bush for New Jersey’s crisis of affordability. The property taxes and state taxes that are causing economic anguish to New Jerseyans have nothing to do with Bush – and the voters know this.

2. I agree with Chris Christie’s position on mandate free insurance policies, but politically, it has been a disaster for him with women independent voters. He needs to “change the subject” as quickly as possible when this issue arises in debate or otherwise.

Property tax would be the ideal issue to which to change the subject. The fact that Christie has not propounded a property tax platform, however, makes it almost impossible for him to do so.

The mammogram issue has become to the Christie campaign what the gun issue was to Chuck Haytaian’s 1994 U.S. Senate campaign – a distraction which hurts the candidate severely with women independent voters.

3. The Christie campaign should seriously consider having Kim Guadagno do a commercial on behalf of the Republican ticket, to be broadcast during the last week of the campaign. Her ability to project empathy with women voters attempting to meet the challenges of motherhood and career is superb. This would go a long way in bringing back women independent voters in support of the Christie-Guadagno ticket.

And for goodness sake, Christie campaign, once and for all, make Kim Guadagno available to appear on the NJN On the Record show. Her Lieutenant-Governor candidacy is the best decision Chris Christie has made in this campaign.

Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and seven federally recognized Indian nations.

Alan's column was initially published on Politickernj.


Anonymous said...

Kim Guadagno has empathy? Tell that to the unborn children that she would lawfull allow to be murdered in the name of choice. Guadango is a butcher.

stopthesocialists said...

Abortion as a state issue is absurd. While I am anti-abortion, it is a federal law. The change has to come by getting anti-abortion jurists appointed to the supreme court. To hold that against Kim is ridiculous and a distraction from her tremendous performance and everything else she brings to the table. This is the difference between Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats unite behind their candidate regardless of how flawed they are, or how many issues they differ on. The Republicans can agree on 99 out of 100 issues and attack each other on the one. Stupid, and self-defeating.

Anonymous said...

I would have loved Kim to have responded to Weinberg's corruption answer like this

When you were in the State Senate you were silent when Bryant and Sharpe were allowed to continue in office while under indictment for corruption. Their votes for legislation were more important to you than the integrity of the system. You are not an example of how to return confidence of our citizens in our government.

Anonymous said...

Until state government officials get to appoint U.S. Supreme Court judges, the whole abortion debate by the whacko fringe radicals on both sides is ridiculous. The Democrats have used the abortion issue in New Jersey for thirty years. They've been able to do so successfully because the moderate Republicans haven't had the gonads to stand up and say it's not an issue in state elections. That's because of the right wing Kooks trying to control the Republican party through an issue that is completely irrelevant to state politics. Moderate Republicans need to be able to tell the Kooks in their own party to shut up and help get rid of the corrupt Democrats or step aside as being useless and destructive. Then they need to meet the issue head on with the Democrats by calling the issue what it is -- meaningless in a state election.