The most optimistic supporters of Barbara Buono’s gubernatorial campaign are quick to point out that the gap between the challenger and the governor in the poll numbers is closing. Let’s assume that this gap continues to get smaller and that Buono loses the election by a small margin, say two percent.
Some Buono supporters will be mildly disappointed, but nevertheless ecstatic. Disappointed because their candidate lost, but ecstatic that she almost toppled the most popular politician in America. Buono’s campaign staff will move on and put this statistical “upset” on their résumés as they seek jobs for the 2014 campaigns.
There’s a saying that goes, “coming close only gets you points in horseshoes and thermonuclear war.”
Don’t ever assume that a close and underwhelming victory by Chris Christie will humble him. Remember when his mentor, George W Bush lost the 2000 election? Despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court decided to disenfranchise Florida voters and the fact that Al Gore won the popular vote, upon taking office Bush acted as if he had a mandate to promote the conservative agenda. Christie will do the same if our election is close. He’ll use state resources in court to fight the anticipated override of his veto of marriage equality. He’ll continue to throw lucrative state contracts to his cronies. And he’ll move further to the right on disenfranchising the poor and middle class in order to enhance his presidential ambitions.
A close loss for Buono is still a loss. Not only for her, but also for the people of New Jersey. That’s why it is critically important to pull off the electoral upset of the decade. Her own party is not helping her, so it’s up to the people to pull out all the stops to send Chris Christie back to his Mendham mansion permanently.
Despite the numerous missteps of Buono’s campaign staff, it’s time for anyone who gives a damn about this state to volunteer for the campaign. You hate making phone calls? Well, do you hate making phone calls more than you hate what Christie is doing to your state? You can’t afford to contribute to the campaign? Well, if you’re poor or in the middle class, the dollars that you don’t contribute will come back to bite you as higher fees and fewer services if Christie is re-elected.
Bush “won” in a close election, and the nation is still trying to recover from the mis-steps and damage he precipitated. A second Christie term will result in similar damage to the state – social, economic, and political – and it will take years to recover. A close election is not good enough. Let’s not make the same mistake twice.