Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Christie wasted little time in seeking to turn the corruption arrests of several local and state officials to his advantage in the governor’s race. Christie, who as the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey under President George W. Bush started the investigation that led to yesterday’s arrests, released a campaign commercial today highlighting his tenure as a anti-corruption crusading federal prosecutor.
Corzine has been reacting to the arrests as well. He held a press conference with Attorney General Anne Milgram immediately after the indictments were announced to condemn the corruption unequivocally. He also sought and obtained the resignation of the Director of the Department of Community Affairs, a member of his cabinet, and called upon the two Assemblymen arrested, L. Harvey Smith (D-Jersey City) and Daniel M. Van Pelt (R-Ocean County). For Corzine, the objective is to try and avoid being caught in the crossfire of voter anger and disgust at those accused of wrongdoing in the corruption ring.
But the arrests will undoubtedly hamper Corzine’s efforts to climb back into the race against Christie, who leads by as much as 15 points in recent polling. His commercials charging Christie with ethical lapses seem a little out of place now after the exposure of the widespread corruption among mostly Democratic officials. His main avenue of attack effectively blocked, Corzine will have to find another way to shake up the race.