Republican, Governor of New Mexico
New Mexico has some major ethics hurdles to overcome. For this, voters can thank the stateâ€™s Democratic Party, which has plagued politics in New Mexico, most recently with a slew of arrests and convictions on a range of corruption charges that included an investigation into Bill Richardsonâ€™s involvement in a pay-to-play scheme (which led to his January withdrawal from consideration to be Obamaâ€™s Secretary of Commerce).
FOX & Friends hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade spoke earlier this year with Seton Motley of the Media Research Center on the Democrat-led scandals that have festered deep in politics all across the country â€“ including the Richardson investigation â€“ and how mainstream, liberal-leaning media has failed to cover Dem disgraces with the same fervor dedicated to conservative controversy.
For New Mexico, the answer to unfettered corruption may be found in the candidacy of Republican Hispanic-American Susana Martinez â€“ known to be a quick-witted, tough District Attorney. Â Â Of this candidate, one small New Mexico newspaper says â€“
“She has demonstrated the leadership and earned the accomplishments required to make the changes in Santa Fe voters are demandingâ€¦ She has prosecuted corrupt public officials, sending a message that the status quo is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Tough on crime â€“ yes. But having only entered the race days ago, little else is known about Martinez as a candidate for the state’s top executive office. Education is a priority issue for the candidate and mother, according to a Facebook note in which she cites the disturbing statistic that only 54 percent of New Mexico students graduate from high school.
Martinez showed signs of a sharp political mind when she issued recently a well-reasoned assessment of the profound irony exposed in an op-ed written by her opponent, New Mexicoâ€™s Democrat Lt. Governor Diane Denish.
“Todayâ€™s op-ed by Diane Denish on the corruption taking place in Santa Fe fails to acknowledge the obvious, that New Mexicoâ€™s lieutenant governor has stood by and watched as taxpayer dollars and public funds have been abused and fraudulent activity has run rampant in state government. Only now â€“ as she seeks higher office â€“ does Denish speak out in favor of reforms and a â€˜culture of responsibility.â€™ Denishâ€™s call for â€˜responsibilityâ€™ cannot be taken seriously until she takes responsibility for her own administration.”
But before Martinez can focus on a head-to-head with Denish, she must first battle for the partyâ€™s nomination as she has at least two fellow Republican contenders in the primary, including current state Republican Party chairman Allen Weh.
Democrat, U.S. Senator for Illinois
In November 2006, 30-year-old Alexi Giannoulias became the youngest State Treasurer in the nation. The young Illinois Democrat hopes to be voted into the U.S. Senate next year at a mere 34 years of age, which would make him the youngest member of the Senate â€“ perhaps following in the footsteps of fellow Democrat, Vice President Joe Biden, who when first voted into the U.S. Senate met the age requirement of 30 by only one month and 14 days.
Despite his youth, Giannoulias has clearly been chosen by the Democrat elite as the next young star of the party. Shira Toeplitz, columnist for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, wrote recently that â€œGiannoulias will [likely] be Democratsâ€™ anointed candidate in the 2010 Illinois Senate race.â€ And the candidate is slated to get a significant endorsement from the Illinois state chapter of the Service Employees International Union. He has already garnered the endorsement of the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association.
Giannoulias is vying for the seat currently held by Sen. Roland Burris, whose controversial appointment by ousted Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich led many to call for Burrisâ€™ immediate resignation. Burris defied these calls, maintaining the legitimacy of his appointment. And up until July, he had intended to run for a full term in the Senate.
Undoubtedly, Burrisâ€™ questionable entrance into the U.S. Senate will continue to linger in the shadows of Illinois politics at least through the 2010 election, until a popularly-elected candidate assumes the Senate seat left vacant when Barack Obama assumed the presidency.
In January, Burris boldly/arrogantly declared to CNNâ€™s Wolf Blitzer that if he ran for election in 2010, he would win, saying, â€œIâ€™ve never lost a race to a Republican.â€
But, seven months later, Burris announced he would not continue to campaign for election due to an apparent failed venture at fundraising. Although Burrisâ€™ ego will not allow him to admit the obvious, inability to raise adequate campaign funds is usually a good indicator of a widespread lack of confidence in and support for a candidate.
Republican, Governor of New Jersey
Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie is proving to be a formidable opponent for incumbent New Jersey Democrat Governor Jon Corzine.
Christie possesses a strong grasp of the pressing issues of the state, and holds his own on CNBCâ€™s Squawk Box, in which fellow guest Rudy Giuliani begins by stating his support for Christieâ€™s campaign. The programâ€™s host, Joe Kernan â€“ in contrast to the often politically-biased behavior exhibited by CNBCâ€™s hosts â€“ does an immense favor to viewers by initiating the conversation, then stepping back from it to let Christie speak at length on New Jerseyâ€™s problems and his proposed fixes in an engaging back-and-forth with Giuliani.
Christie has an advantage among voters still steaming over the July corruption sweep that ended a two-year investigation with 44 arrests that included three New Jersey mayors and two state assemblymen. This massive corruption/money laundering scandal is yet another odious blemish on Corzineâ€™s tenure as governor, and a marked indicator of his inability to reign in corruption.
Corzineâ€™s poor judgment landed him in hot water early in his term as governor when it was learned he made a significant and undisclosed loan to former girlfriend Carla Katz, who also happened to be the head of New Jerseyâ€™s largest union â€“ the Communications Workers of America.
Despite repeated trivial swipes from Corzineâ€™s camp, New Jersey newspaper the Daily Record recently reported on one example of how Christie has maintained his sharp sense of humor so far –
On Thursday morning, the Christie campaign sent out a “breaking news” alert and admitted that the candidate had swiped a penny from a penny tray in a convenience store. The release included a YouTube video with an announcer breathlessly reporting the bulletin.
Christie’s point is not a bad one. It’s that the campaign of Gov. Jon S. Corzine is raising trivial issues while the state’s economy continues to flounder.
The paper also reported a recent Rasmussen poll that showed Christie with an 11-point lead over Corzine.
Check out my previous installment of Candidates Corner, where I talk about Meg Whitman (California), Michael Williams (Texas) and Creigh Deeds (Virginia), at http://newsrealblog.com/2009/09/07/candidates-corner-sept-8/.