On the way home from school this afternoon, JT casually mentioned what he had read in the Star-Ledger today. For the uninitiated, the Star-Ledger is a leading newspaper here in the Garden State. And my fourth grader was reading it as part of his social studies lessons this year.
Allrighty then. No excuses for ignorance about local politics will be tolerated at Sassafras House. Thus it is that we are sitting in front of the telly tonight, watching incumbent Democratic Governor face-off against two challengers: Republican Chris Christie and Independent Chris Daggett.
JT's opening observation: "If these guys were a cartoon, Christie would be the fat guy, Daggett the really skinny guy, and Corzine the in-between guy." True that.
And then JT notes, "They're all bagging on Corzine."
Daggett mentions raising the gas tax (NJ's is the lowest in the nation). The proceeds could be used to repair our roads. JT's assessment: "good idea." That's my boy.
For the non-Jerseyans among you, Incumbent Corzine is facing a bit of an uphill challenge. For many Democrats, his failure to reform the Jersey political system has been a disappointment. And governing in a recession hasn't been particularly easy, either.
Christie was a federal attorney in New Jersey and he has record of prosecuting corrupt politicians on both sides of the aisle (and there is no shortage of corruption in this state). But Christie was a Bush appointee, no asset in blue Jersey. And he's very conservative, also out of touch with the state. He led this race for a while, but the August arrival of Independent Chris Daggett, who regularly polls in the 10% range, has closed the window of Christie's lead.
The race has tightened considerably and though Corzine is still behind, it's only by a few points. Turns out that Christie's support was pretty shallow.
Christie has been asked to justify his traffic-ticket dodges (there have been a few). The question: "Is there a different standard for your behavior?" JT says yes.....Christie says no.
And JT notes that Corzine isn't fit to discuss traffic violations either (Corzine was in a high-profile traffic accident a few years back; it was the result of speeding and the Gov was not wearing his seat belt).
9 year olds have no patience with hypocrisy on either side of the political divide.
Daggett calls for state employees to accept salary cuts (they already have) and changes to the pension and insurance plans for public employees. Christie agrees. Corzine pays lip service to fixing the NJ pension plan. None of these guys is willing to point out that state employee unions won't just lie back and accept these cuts.
And now we go to questions from the public. The first one: how will you cut the budget and close our 8 billion dollar budget gap? "That's a lot of baseball cards," the boy notes.
Christie proposes kicking people out of the state health insurance plan. JT does not approve.
And now the topic of abortion comes up. Because that's what I want to explain to my son on a Thursday evening. We're pro-choice around here and that's what I explained to JT.
Suddenly talking about property taxes sounds much more appealing. JT notes that property taxes have been high in New Jersey forever. He's right.
Medical marijuana: yea or nea? Corzine says yup. Daggett thinks it might be okay. Christie says he's down with a little pot if safeguards are in place. JT thinks smoking is bad.
The debate still has 30 minutes to go but bedtime looms....JT is going to cast his ballot for Corzine. His second choice would be Daggett and his third choice one of the many other small potato candidates in the mix. Sorry Chris Christie.