Corzine concedes race, congratulates winner
EAST BRUNSWICK — Gov. Jon S. Corzine lost re-election last night with about 45 percent of New Jersey voters to Republican challenger Chris Christie.
Christie, a federal prosecutor, won with about 49 percent of the vote, according to reported election results.
"From the Delaware to the Jersey Shore … it has been an incredible, incredible journey, and I am grateful to all New Jersey for that," Corzine said.
In the state's democratic election party at the East Brunswick Hilton, he said he called Christie to congratulate him on becoming New Jersey's next governor.
"I want you to know that Chris was gracious in his response, and we will work hard together to make sure the transition is smooth and do everything that will serve the people of this state," Corzine said.
He said serving as governor and U.S. senator of New Jersey was an unimaginable joy.
"For citizens of this great state, this is a moment where there is some little sadness, but I must tell you, I have never been more honored," Corzine said, as serving as a U.S. senator and governor has been a joy he never imagined.
His administration had seen tough times, but he made a difference in people's lives, Corzine said. He is proud of them and all those who worked tirelessly on his campaign.
Corzine thanked Independent candidate Chris Daggett for making the campaign a clear and focused race.
Lt. Governor Candidate Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, expressed her gratitude for the hard work of the party throughout the past year.
"There is not one minute of this that I would ever trade in," Weinberg said. "This was the most incredible journey. The people of New Jersey are wonderful. Our Democratic Party is awesome, and we have the most awesome state chair in the world in Joseph Pride."
The state and nation's worst economic recession since the Great Depression and the failed policies of the Bush administration did not resonate well with New Jersey voters, said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ.
"[Corzine] can't do anything about that at all, yet he faces the consequences of it and there's voter anger, and understandably so," he said. "People have either lost their jobs, had somebody in their family lose their job or are anxious about their company keeping their job."
Despite Corzine's loss, Menendez said the former governor clearly communicated his message throughout his campaign.
"How many states can you go and say, ‘I cut the budget $5 billion from when I took office and yet raised education funding?'" Menendez said.
The former governor also was the first in the nation to create his own in-state stimulus package to get citizens back to work, the senator said. Corzine lobbied and testified for the national stimulus package as well.
"He positioned the state to be ready to take advantage of what was being proposed in Congress," Menendez said. "He pointed us in the right direction. That's the best you can do."
But at the end of the day, Menendez said the failed policies of the Bush administration and the national crisis were out of the governor's hands.
Rep. Steve Rothman said Corzine came into office with huge obstacles, but he should be considered one of the best in the state's history.
"He made a lot of good decisions, but ultimately, I think the people of New Jersey were looking for a new energy," Rothman said.
While New Jersey is mainly a Democratic state, Rothman said they are willing to give Christie a chance to tackle the financial crisis.
Although the Corzine campaign brought national Democratic leaders such as President Barack Obama to the state, this was a local race, Rothman said.
"This had to do with how New Jerseyans are feeling about the problems we face here, and it was clear that not all of the Obama supporters came out to vote," he said.
He wished Christie well in office on behalf of both Democratic and Republican Congress members.
School of Arts and Sciences junior Art Nevins was a field operator for the Corzine campaign, going door-to-door to spread the word.
"I think it will be bad for the state because the state's mostly Democratic, so it's a poor decision for the state to support Christie because it's contrary to what [voters] mainly believe in, and they'll be angry in four years," Nevins said.