STATE – Unpopular incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine will face liberal Republican Christopher J. Christie in November after both men secured primary wins Tuesday.
At his victory celebration, Christie told a crowd of supporters, “I am honored by the confidence you continue to show in me. I will work hard each and every day, just like all of you do, to prove to you that your confidence was well-placed.”
Christie defeated his more conservative rivals, former Bogota mayor Steve Lonegan and Assemblyman Rick Merkt. With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Christie led Lonegan 55 percent to 42 percent, with Merkt drawing just 3 percent of the vote.
Corzine, who won an easy victory in the Democratic primary after facing only token competition, officially kicked off his re-election campaign with Vice President Joseph Biden in West Orange Tuesday night.
“Barack Obama and Joe Biden are committed to Jon Corzine’s re-election. Period. End of sentence,” Biden said just after polls closed at 8 p.m. “We need Jon Corzine at the helm.”
Corzine accepted his party’s nomination for a second term. “Being governor of New Jersey is the highest honor of my life,” he said. “Serving the people is my highest calling.”
Corzine, who had a 53 percent disapproval rating in a recent Quinnipiac University poll, will face a tough challenge in his re-election bid. A series of polls has shown him trailing Christie, a former U.S. attorney under former President George W. Bush.