There’s Trouble Busting In from Out of State

Steve Kornacki has a fascinating piece on the decline of the New Jersey Democratic party, and he pins it on Jon Corzine and his money:

“They want to go with Corzine,” a Pallone aide was quoted saying. “They are dazzled by the money.”

For rank-and-file Democrats, the advent of Candidate Corzine was never actually all that exciting. His positions were boilerplate liberal, no different from Florio’s—but at least Florio could articulate them with some punch. And at least Florio had a history of delivering results. A familiar storyline took hold: Corzine would cut a check and win a major Democratic group’s backing, but when he’d actually show up to visit with the group, the party regulars would be disappointed, even resentful.

“He is pulling up to towns with a dumpster filled with bags of money and leaving two bags here and five in Jersey City and Newark,” one Hudson County Democrat complained to a reporter.

The whole thing is worth a read, because it’s a beat reporting tour de force by someone who clearly knows Jersey politics.

(via Jim Newell)

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33 replies
  1. 1
    aimai says:

    That was an incredible piece. I read it through the Kos link and it blew my mind with its detailed but racy account of New Jersey Politics. The only comfort I draw from it is that despite what it argues about Christie I honestly think that Christie has reached his own top tier. He can’t move far enough right for the Republican mouth breather primary and still retain his liberal voters–heck I don’t think he can do it while retaining his popularity and his likeability both of which are based on his ability to control the room and appeal to people in some mysterious personal way. When he has to really get ugly to appease the Republican base he isn’t going to have the emotional or personal skill to swing backwards to appeal to the goo goo blue blues who seem to buy his shtick. He’s all killer asshole all the time.

  2. 2
    Baud says:

    I’m not sure why a Christie win, even in a landslide, necessarily spells doom for the rest of the party running for other offices. Reagan always had to deal with a Democratic House, and there are numerous other examples of voters who ticket-split. Anything’s possible, of course, but that was one part of the piece that wasn’t explained well. Otherwise, very interesting.

  3. 3
    aimai says:

    I thought the implication was that in New Jersey people don’t ticket split (unlike here in MA where they traditionally do) but rather that the state’s voters tend to vote a straight ticket. If they are coming out for the Republican at the top of the ticket the machine that is turning them out is able to get their votes all the way down the list.

  4. 4
    Baud says:


    That may be right. I just didn’t notice an explanation, and I’ve become wary of doom-and-gloom possibilities being regarded as certainties.

  5. 5
    Arrik says:

    Huh. All this time what I heard was “There’s trouble bussin’ in from out of state.”

  6. 6
    Ed in NJ says:

    As with most Republicans, Christie will overreach. Look at the reaction to the minimum wage veto. By the time the campaign is in full gear, and there is a nominee (most likely Barbara Buono) we will see the true Christie come out and Democrats will be motivated to, at the very least, ensure the legislature stays in Dem control.

    ETA: Do not underestimate the power of the unions in NJ, especially fire, police and teachers, who all have been waiting 4 years to take down Christie.

  7. 7
    Steve says:

    @Baud: There are a lot of voters who will either vote Democratic or they won’t vote. If it feels like the Democrat running against Christie doesn’t have the chance, many of those people will simply not bother to show up and vote for the state legislature and other offices.

  8. 8
    MattF says:

    It’s hard to predict how Christie will play outside of NJ. My guess is that Christie will have trouble getting financial backing from the usual Republican fat cats– whatever else he may be, he’s not pliant.

  9. 9
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Ed in NJ:

    ETA: Do not underestimate the power of the unions in NJ, especially fire, police and teachers, who all have been waiting 4 years to take down Christie.

    Two friends, liberals like me to begin with, teach in NJ and they say that even the most conservative of their brethren want to take out Christie because of what he’s done to public education.

    The Dem base will be extremely fired up to take down Governor Creosote.

  10. 10
    Chyron HR says:


    That was from The Boss’s lesser-known album, Arkansas.

  11. 11
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Ed in NJ: One of the police unions has already backed Christie, I believe. I’m going to guess that the teachers are going to stand alone on this one.

  12. 12
    Chris says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    Yeah, I was going to say – don’t police and firefighters’ unions have a history of stabbing their non-uniformed partners in the back in exchange for special considerations (which may or may not actually occur) from the Republicans?

  13. 13
    gene108 says:


    I thought the implication was that in New Jersey people don’t ticket split

    If NJ voters didn’t split ticket, Christie would have a Republican legislature, which he doesn’t.

    I don’t know how strong Christie’s coattails are going to be. The Republican Party is still strongly associated with Christianist-rednecks and when you get down to brass-tacks, Christie is about funneling money to the rich and cutting services to the poor.

    @Suffern ACE:

    One of the police unions has already backed Christie, I believe.

    Corzine pissed off a lot of traditional Democratic groups. Christie’s also pissed of a lot of traditional Democratic groups.

    The difference is Christie’s a Republican and doesn’t need turn out from those groups to win re-election, unlike Corzine in 2009.

    Other than teachers, I don’t think Christie’s really gone after other government unions, though he has gutted the hell out of state government jobs, has as many hangers-on as Corzine ever did, but he’s “likeable” enough that these things don’t damage him the way they did Corzine.

    In some ways Christie is the “Teflon Governor”. There’s a lot of stuff that would turn off voters, but somehow hasn’t damaged him.

    I think the overall improvement in the economy helps more than people want to calculate. I know people, who voted for Christie in 2009 simply for the sake of change, because the economy sucked.

    Also, too the “man-crush” on Corzine also reflects how sexy people thought Wall Street was until the crash of 2008. They were pioneering a new economy, where people got rich by investing in the stock market and finance became an oversized portion of the economy.

  14. 14
    dedc79 says:

    Corzine was a disaster. But let’s not forget McGreevey and Toricelli and the damage they did, as well

  15. 15
    Mike in NC says:

    Steve Buscemi should run for governor of NJ.

  16. 16
    Suffern ACE says:

    I did like the article. I don’t live in Jersey, but I work there and can spit across the border from my house, so I do have to keep up on those things. I think he is correct – the Democratic Party in New Jersey was fairly corrupt and money made it worse. Imagine what the Republicans have to go through with so many billionaires funding them.

    I thought the article was spot on about McGreevey and the politics at that time. Appointing his lover (or perhaps not lover) to the homeland security post was probably the least politically hashy appointment he had to make, probably because that post was new, he hadn’t promised it to someone else. He got a free appointment and he ended his career with it.

  17. 17
    Capri says:


    Don’t be so sure. One of the things he did when attorney general was dismiss a lawsuit that would have cost Murdock millions. He and Rupert go way back.

  18. 18
    gene108 says:


    I think the overall improvement in the economy helps more than people want to calculate.

    Just to elaborate. In 2009, typical middle class reliably Democratic leaning voters felt the ground slipping away from under their feet.

    For people, who made it through the recession, without getting laid-off, they feel the ground’s steady under their feet. They may not have a lot of upward mobility, but they aren’t scared about losing everything either.

    Makes wanting to dump the incumbent harder.

    Also, too Obama’s “tough talk” that pissed off Wall Street types may swing some voters towards Christie, who generally support Democrats on social issues – abortion, prayer in school, etc. – but since they didn’t see much difference between Democrats and Republicans on economic issues voted for Democrats. There’s good chunk of people, who’ll vote Christie for their perceived problems with the Democratic economic agenda.

    Also (three) – Menendez destroyed his Republican opposition in his Senate re-election campaign. So I don’t think the Democratic “brand” is as badly tarnished as the article makes it out to be.

  19. 19
    Cluttered Mind says:

    @Chris: Police, yes. Firefighters, not so much. Totally different types. From what I’ve observed and read over the years, firefighters tend to be far more liberal than police officers. I think part of that is because it’s a firefighter’s job to arrive on the scene and not care how the crisis started or who is to blame, they’re just there to fix it and save as many people as they can by putting themselves at risk. Whereas these days it feels like the job of a police officer in many places (not all by a long shot, but many) is to show up and tase everyone while screaming “stop resisting!” and call it a day. I’ve known a few sadistic assholes over the course of my life who joined the police force solely so that they could legally hurt people (not necessarily physical hurt). The majority of police probably aren’t like that, but I would say that they get far more assholes on their force than firefighters do. You only become a firefighter if you really are dedicated to safety and helping strangers by putting yourself in harm’s way. That’s not quite a natural constituency for the modern Republican party, is it?

  20. 20
    Maude says:

    Corzine is seen as the devil in NJ.
    A good Den candidate running for gov will beat Christie. There are a lot of parents with kids in schools in NJ.
    The Republican brand is stalling.

  21. 21
    Xenos says:

    @Arrik: Me too – for years I have been trying to picture a small army of gangsters descending on New Jersey by way of Greyhound Bus.

  22. 22
    Cluttered Mind says:

    @Xenos: Gangsters would be somewhat hard to picture doing that. On the other hand, this seems more likely:,2339/

  23. 23
    Karen in GA says:

    Springsteen’s website says “busin.'”


  24. 24
    Svensker says:

    Corzine was a complete shit. He was all for Corzine and he didn’t care about “his” state at all. When he jumped ship from the Senate to knock out an excellent lt-gov and take over the state, I knew his interests were only his. I always figured he wanted to run for Pres and thought being Governor would help him more than being a Senator.

    The Democratic machine in NJ backed Corzine against an excellent gubernatorial candidate — who would have won! — because of Corzine’s money.

    Northern NJ is also saddled with a wacker Tea Party nutjob, Scott Garrett, because the Dem machine won’t back liberal candidates against him who’ve had a real chance of winning because those candidates weren’t in the club.

    It’s very screwed up. And, as a result, we have Christie — who, IIRC, made sure not to go after the cop union when he was union bashing. Scott Walker did the same thing.

    There is a LOT of money in NJ. Ask Jon Corzine, who stole millions and got away with it scott-free, pig bastard.

  25. 25
    Arrik says:

    @Chyron HR:

    I would buy it…

  26. 26
    Yutsano says:

    @Mike in NC: Zac Braff. He made a decent movie about his home state.

  27. 27
    gene108 says:


    He was all for Corzine and he didn’t care about “his” state at all.

    But Corzine did push through things that helped the poors. He put in a millionaires tax, to pay for those things.

    Corzine pushed NJ into becoming the #2 state in solar cell/energy production behind California, by creating government subsidies for producing and using solar power.

    In 2009, to boost the economy, he allowed interest free loans for people to outfit their homes, with more energy efficient windows, furnaces, etc.

    From a policy standpoint, Corzine did some good things and wasn’t as bad as people want to make him out to be.

    He was a dick. He pissed off the wrong people. The economy in 2009 didn’t help matters.

    He just wasn’t as bad, from a liberal/Democratic policy perspective, as people think.

  28. 28
    gene108 says:


    Corzine is seen as the devil in NJ.

    I think his handling of MF Global has made him radioactive and not just as a politician, who lost a re-election campaign in a bad year for incumbents. A good politician could bounce back from that.

    His total clusterf*ck handling of MF Global has nailed the door shut on him doing anything again, other than swim around in the piles of gold he has from his GS days.

    A good Den candidate running for gov will beat Christie. There are a lot of parents with kids in schools in NJ. The Republican brand is stalling.

    There’s a lot of stuff Christie has done to hurt people in NJ. It’s just the impact on the middle class and rich ain’t that great. The poors got the shaft, but will they bother to vote/organize for a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2013? I don’t know.

    Eliminating the millionaires tax and balancing that out by cutting $800 million from the education budget was highly unpopular at the time.

    The issue is are people’s memories long enough to remember that or will they vote for the incumbent, because they adjusted to the “new normal” and aren’t feeling threatened by a collapsing economy.

  29. 29
    Svensker says:


    Oh, I agree, he wasn’t a complete dick. He is/was vaguely liberal and not a cretin so he couldn’t help but do a few things that were decent. But his ultimate goal was to aggrandize Jon Corzine and he really didn’t care very much who got trampled on the way.

    One of my last acts as a NJ resident was to vote to re-elect Corzine, who was about to try to enact some pro-gay rights stuff. When Christie won, that all went by the wayside, of course. But, had Corzine not been such a dick, he would have won and that pro-gay rights stuff would have become law.

  30. 30
    Dave says:

    “I think the overall improvement in the economy helps more than people want to calculate.”

    It’s not so great in NJ. Unemployment beats the national average and has been ticking up last I checked.

    Thing is there’s a damning argument to be made against Christie, who has done *nothing* good for the state, and plenty to hurt it.

    No one is making that argument, though. Maybe Barbara Bono will in her campaign? She’s good. Hope she swings it.

    Corzine, though, fuck that guy for everything he’s ever done, forever.

  31. 31
    Joel says:

    @Yutsano: I hated that movie.

  32. 32
    mak says:

    I’m with Dave @30, there’s plenty of ammo to use against fatboy if somebody has the means to use it. Vetoing the minimum wage hike is just the most recent offense. Before that, there was the gay marriage thing, gutting education while cutting taxes for the wealthy, marginalizing medical marijuana, the Rutgers/Rowan debacle, and lingering property tax issues which were a major issue in the last couple campaigns and which will only get worse in the wake of Sandy. And, as someone’s already said, unemployment in NJ sucks – it’s presently 9.6%. Plus, let’s not forget that Chris Christie is a colossal dooshbag.

    The real question is whether the Dem candidate, presumably Buono, will have the wherewithal to make the arguments heard. It seemed to me that the main point of the Kornacki piece is that the North and South Jersey bosses, Adubato and Norwood, first dumped Codey for Corzine’s money, then, when Corzine started to stink the place up, made a deal with Republicans to let Corzine twist in the wind and Christie win. I didn’t see any indication from the Kornacki piece that Norwood and Adubato have dumped Christie or are fully behind Buono.

  33. 33
    Boehner's Plan B says:

    Of course the lyric is busing. As in, large numbers of hired goons/muscle being brought in. Gotta bring ’em in somehow, hence, bus. Headline is just wrong, not the first time.

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