Christie wins heated election in Garden State
PARSIPPANY — Republican challenger Chris Christie was declared winner by a 4 percent margin, according to reported election results.
"Hey New Jersey, we did it," Governor-elect Christie said at the New Jersey Republicans' election party at the Hilton Parsippany.
As the state's precincts reported their returns when the polls closed last night, Christie, a federal prosecutor, never fell behind.
"The governor [has] called me to congratulate me on winning," Christie said. "His call was gracious, and he pledged a smooth transition for me."
He thanked the two former Republican Governors Christie Todd Whitman and Tom Kean who supported him and his family.
"This election is not about me, not about you, it's about everything we love about the state of New Jersey," Christie said. "We've already had a great New Jersey life, but what we want to make sure is that everyone in New Jersey and our children have a great New Jersey life."
He said the same people that say he will not be able to lower taxes are the same people that say he cannot free New Jersey from corruption.
"Tomorrow we begin to take back New Jersey," Christie said. "Tomorrow we have a great deal of work fixing the state of New Jersey. [Lt. governor-elect Kim Guadagno] and I are up to the task. … There are no easy answers to the problems we face."
Christie said he would approach problems in a bipartisan manner by accepting ideas from both parties.
"Everything said about the race before today still remains true," said Associate Director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics John Weingart. "The economy was an important factor and made the last four years very difficult to be governor. The Republicans chose a very articulate candidate with a great record as U.S. attorney, and Gov. Corzine had never really connected with voters."
Ron Holden, president of the Rutgers University College Republicans, said Christie would go to Trenton to do a service for the state.
"We can finally bring everything we've been fighting for to the state of New Jersey and undo the things that … Corzine did and everything [President] Barack Obama does," said Holden, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
Alex Cohen, a Christie Coalition organizer for the University, said every week the College Republicans made more than 1,000 phone calls to people across the state.
"We started ‘Get Out the Vote' in Rutgers University last Wednesday," said Cohen, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. "We were in Woodbridge, South Plainfield [and] New Brunswick knocking on doors [and] making phone calls. Rutgers had six to seven people per effort, but we had between 75 to 100 across the state."
He said endorsements would not have been a deciding factor in this race.
"The state of New Jersey has spoken. They've responded to all the troubles of the state of New Jersey such as corruption and high property taxes," Cohen said. "This wasn't Republicans that won this race, this was a bipartisan effort. Barack Obama came, [Vice President] Joe Biden came, [former President] Bill Clinton came, but no one can save [Corzine] from himself."
Holden said the College Republicans are looking for more members at the University and more visibility.
"The Republican efforts reflect at Rutgers — we've had higher turnouts [and] we've had a spike in membership," he said. "We got fired up last semester. There seems to be a new conscious sentiment in everything that's going on. There's more going on in events. There is something winnable."
He said the College Republicans would be more visible in the University.
"We will be legitimatized in Rutgers and reflect that we have a positive message," Holden said. "We have a legitimate, good message and [are] not crazy as some Democrats or Corzine would have you believe, and I think that is a motivating factor for people to join us."
During the campaign, Corzine outspent Christie by double, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. Christie spent $11.7 million while Corzine spent $23.6 million.
The important part of the campaign was building on the foundation in the streets, said Jay Webber, New Jersey Republican Party chairman.
"Out on the streets, they're just building on the tremendous success that we've built up throughout the campaign," he said. "Rutgers students, especially in New Brunswick, have been working for months, and they were one of the most energetic call centers, and some our most successful volunteer nights came out from Rutgers."
He said they have been very satisfied of the efforts of the Scarlet Knight Republicans.
The Republicans won a landslide victory in the Virginia's governor race early in the night, but Webber said it was not relevant to the outcome in New Jersey.
"Jerseyans are making their minds up according to the issues important to them," he said.
In analyzing the Christie win, Weingart said Christie would have a huge set of challenges over the next four years.
"New Jersey finances are still in serious trouble, and all candidates, including Christie, were pretty vague about how they would address that," Weingart said.
Democrats have a sizable majority in both houses of the legislator in New Jersey, and it would be interesting to see how Christie would work with Democrats in the legislature, he said.
"More will be made nationally than warranted. It seems to me that New Jersey voters were thinking [more] about specific candidates than about party labels or national issues," Weingart said. "There were so few races this year that national parties and press are likely to overanalyze today's outcome."