Christie kicks off campaign for governor

February 4, 2009 8:13:30 AM PST
Former federal prosecutor Christopher Christie kicked off his campaign for governor of New Jersey Wednesday, saying he's the man to fix a broken state government. Addressing about 200 Republican supporters at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, Christie pledged to cut taxes and limit spending and borrowing. He says he has a four-year plan to return opportunities to the state.

Christie's two-day campaign rollout includes diners stops in Hamilton (Mercer County) and Westville later in the day. The candidate plans to pick up endorsements and attend a campaign rally on Thursday.

The 46-year-old Mendham resident must defeat three Republican opponents in the June primary before he can run against incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine.

A new poll released Wednesday shows Republican challenger Chris Christie leading Gov. Jon Corzine in New Jersey's race for governor.

The Quinnipiac University poll found Christie, a former U.S. Attorney, topping Democratic incumbent Corzine, 44 to 38 percent. The election is still nine months away.

Clay Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said the top federal prosecutor who served under President Bush could prove a strong competitor against Corzine.

"In less than four months, he has come from trailing the governor by six points to leading him by six points - a 12-point shift," said Richards. "In that time, Corzine's approval rating has slipped only a couple of points, but Christie's favorability ratings have jumped by 9 points."

Corzine led Christie by 6 percent in a mid-November Quinnipiac Poll.

In the latest survey, Christie is buoyed by support of 49 percent of independent voters, compared with 24 percent for Corzine. The poll shows men and white voters break for Christie, while women and black voters prefer Corzine.

The poll shows the other three Republicans - former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, Assemblyman Rick Merkt and Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine - far back.

Christie planned to officially kick off his run for governor Wednesday with a nine-stop, two-day bus tour of the state. The campaign kickoff was to start with a policy speech in Newark, followed by diner stops in central and southern New Jersey. Christie planned to pick up endorsements and host a rally on Thursday.

A majority of voters polled say Corzine does not deserve to be re-elected. Nine percent say conditions in New Jersey have improved under Corzine, compared with 45 percent who say they've gotten worse and 43 percent who say they're the same.

Corzine also registered a negative 49 percent to 41 percent favorability rating, meaning more people think negatively about him than positively. Christie's favorable/unfavorable rating is a positive 31 percent to 7 percent, according to the poll.

The telephone survey of 1,173 registered voters was taken Jan. 29 through Feb. 2 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. The survey includes 385 Republicans with an error margin of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

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