GOP dominating in New Jersey, Virginia 2009 races

The nationally viewed 2009 election season mainly consists of the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia which, at the moment, appear to be headed into red territory. For New Jersey, incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine is unsuccessfully trying to fend off a challenge from Republican Chris Christie. Virginia is shaping up to be a mirror of the 1993 political climate with Republican Bob McDonnell looking to reclaim Virginia’s highest elected office. Here’s a little snapshot of both races.

First, a look at the Virginia governor’s race between Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell.

To say Deeds has run anything but a reasonably incompetent campaign thus far is putting it lightly. The Washington Post, a liberal paper which endorsed Deeds, has even pointed out Deeds has now unequivocally stated that he will raise taxes if elected.

The WaPo reports:

Democratic state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds declared pretty definitively to a full house at a debate in Tysons Corner on Thursday that as governor he would not support higher taxes.

“I’m not going to raise taxes,” he said.

But gubernatorial candidate Deeds (Bath) also said that he would gladly sign a transportation plan that identifies new revenue to fix roads. A tax increase is one option on the table, he said.

When asked to explain the apparent contradiction, Deeds said he would not raise taxes for the general fund, the account that pays for such government functions as schools, prisons and social services. The gas tax goes to the transportation trust fund, and Deeds would look at that and other options for roads.

If Deeds looks as though he is dancing around the tax issue, it isn’t the first time. It wasn’t that long ago that he wasn’t willing to say he would raise taxes for roads; his promise was to keep “all options” on the table and to bring lots of people together to forge a bipartisan solution to improve traffic across Virginia.

Deeds’s Republican opponent, former attorney general Robert F. McDonnell, repeated his pledge not to raise taxes for roads or anything else. McDonnell also stood by his opposition in 2004 to a tax increase promoted by then-Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers to bolster state spending on schools, public safety and other core services.

Here’s the video of Deeds having a “John Kerry” moment on taxes:

Rest assured Virginia, if Deeds is elected, your taxes will be raised even if Deeds can’t figure out what kind of taxes he’s raising.

Here’s a look at the current poll average from RealClearPolitics for Virginia 2009:

The race has tightened, as expected following Labor Day, but McDonnell still maintains the lead and each new poll has confirmed this.

New Jersey is shaping up to be an interesting story as well.

Republican candidate Christopher J. Christie is battling incumbent Democrat Tom Corzine and it has been a very bitter-fought race thus far.

Some background from the Philly Enquirer:

One of Gov. Corzine’s personal investments has become the latest fodder for attacks in an increasingly bitter race between the Democratic incumbent and Republican candidate Christopher J. Christie.

Accusing Corzine of a “colossal error in judgment,” Christie says the governor is invested in a hedge fund related to funds that have interests in four Atlantic City casinos and do business with the state pension system.

Corzine’s campaign says the Republican charges are without merit.

“This is a wild-eyed conspiracy cooked up by the Christie campaign to distract from his own pattern of ethical failings,” Corzine campaign spokesman Sean Darcy said yesterday.

Corzine invested in a hedge fund called TPG Axon. The funds involved in the casinos and pension system are in the Texas Pacific Group (TPG) family of funds. They are independent of one another, a company spokesman said.

“Gov. Corzine doesn’t have one penny tied up” in the funds operated by TPG, Darcy said.

Republicans say if there is no relationship between the funds, Corzine has at least shown the appearance of a conflict of interest.

They point out that the state Casino Control Act forbids many New Jersey officials, including the governor, from having any financial interest in gaming companies. And state ethics laws prohibit officials from profiting from state work.

It is highly likely these arguments will show up in attack ads against the governor before the Nov. 3 election.

Corzine could have avoided this attack had he put his fortune in a blind trust, as many elected officials have, according to Seton Hall political scientist Joseph Marbach.

He said the governor has to ask himself “what’s more important, running the state or running your portfolio?”

Truth be told, Corzine has done such a poor job in managing New Jersey that much of Christie’s popularity has a lot to do Corzine’s incompetence.

Here’s a snapshot of the latest polling:

Christie maintains a comfortable lead as he has for months. Very little has changed and Corzine has been unable to overcome his own abysmal record in the state.