October 26, 2009


Corzine comes back, but far enough?: Recession adds to New Jersey governor's woes in a race drawing national interest (Karl Vick, 10/26/09, Washington Post)

In much of the state, however, Corzine remains associated with New Jersey's heavy tax burden, especially the onerous property levies that he promised to reduce when campaigning four years ago. Those plans were largely undone by the recession, which left the state with a $7 billion shortfall and the governor's approval ratings mired in the low 30s.

"He's a failure," said Bob Armstrong, 63, an engineer from Howell. "He made promises that he hasn't kept. The state has, if not the highest taxes in the country, we're right there. Property taxes are through the roof."

The revenue pinch also hurt Corzine with state employees, a usually reliable Democratic constituency that was angered when he reopened contracts to remove automatic raises.

"Where he is now has to do with retaliation a little bit," said Andrea Rouse-Baldwin, 35, who formerly worked at the state's welfare division.

The new labor tension overshadowed Corzine's widely publicized romance, while he was in the U.S. Senate, with Carla Katz, head of the local that represented nearly half of state workers. The relationship might have lent Corzine street cred in Jersey politics, but in the end it underscored his wealth: In parting, he forgave Katz a $470,000 mortgage on a condo.

"I think a lot of people felt that he used his money, his own personal money, in ways that are not appropriate," said Marlene Carlson, a retired teacher among several thousand Democrats at a rally last week headlined by President Obama, who urged voters not to blame the governor for the weak economy. The last Democratic governor to serve during a recession, James J. Florio, was swept out of office in 1993 on a wave of anger very much like the one facing Corzine.

"Virtually identical," Florio said in an interview.

...property taxes were the #1 issue to voters when I worked on the '85 gubernatorial...

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 26, 2009 7:09 AM
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