Despite having the support of President Obama and spending millions on his campaign, Gov. Jon Corzine lost his bid for re-election on Nov. 3. His candidacy didn?t garner much attention on campus partly because the College Democrats decided to divert their previous focus of supporting Corzine in the gubernatorial election to other matters.
In an 11—8 vote on Oct. 5, the group voted to shift the focal point of its efforts from the Corzine campaign to other areas of interest according to Sarah Burdick, club secretary and sophmore journalism major.
According to Burdick the other issues the group decided to focus on include national issues such as health care and gay marriage.
Club members that continued to support Corzine were “still provided with the means to work for the campaign,” she said, adding that she supported Independent candidate, Chris Daggett.
The decision was made shortly after Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Sen. Loretta Weinberg spoke at the College on Sept. 30.
Though Weinberg had scheduled to meet with club leaders prior to the forum, a previously booked event in Bergen County on gang violence prevented her from making it to the College on time according to Brian Block, president of the College Democrats. Weinberg didn?t arrive until 45 minutes after the appointed time of the forum.
When asked if the Senator?s lateness and failure to make the meet-and-greet had any connection with the group?s decision, Block said this was not the case.
“We commend Sen. Weinberg for taking time out to talk with us and students, and in no way did she insult us or feel that we were not worth her time … Essentially we do not as a club endorse Corzine, but we are not against him either, just focused on other matters,” Block said.
Vice President Alex Berger was the former campus coordinator for the Corzine campaign but rescinded the role due to conflicting beliefs with the campaign on the responsibilities of the position.
“We kind of parted on how we wanted to do things on campus. They wanted me to take a more active role in convincing the students and articulate why he was the better candidate, which I would have been fine with, but I felt they had a duty to convince the students by coming on campus,” Berger said.
When asked what he felt prompted the vote in the club, Berger identified Corzine?s declination of the College?s invitation to host a debate with the candidates as the turning point for many students.
“There was a feeling throughout the club and College that Corzine was not a friend of public education,” Berger said. Berger attributed the feelings of neglect to the College?s “middle child syndrome” mentality — the College is ignored in comparison to its neighboring giants Rutgers and Princeton.
Despite feelings of animosity toward Corzine?s cuts in funding and his failure to visit the College, Berger and Block stressed that a majority of the College Democrats still supported Corzine, even if the group no longer collectively focused on the campaign.
“I personally urged the members to vote to continue work on the campaign because of its national implications for the Obama agenda and Democratic ideals in general. Further, in my opinion, if the youth vote doesn?t turn out and turn out for a Democrat, then our vote may not be looked to in the future for key support,” Block said.
Whether or not Corzine?s defeat was a product of disillusioned young voters, the victor of the election wasn?t exactly an overpowering presence on campus either.
Chris Christie, the first Republican to win a statewide gubernatorial election in 12 years, declined to attend a debate at the College in Oct ober following Corzine?s decision to not attend. His running mate for lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, also failed to come to campus.
According to treasurer of College Republicans, Brian Hackett, the College Republicans took an active role in Christie?s campaign by participating in phone banking, sign blitzes and rallies.
“Of course the College Republicans could always be more active on a variety of levels, but we were very busy and did our best to help all our Republican candidates,” Hackett said.
Hackett identified the group?s support of Christie as a response to Corzine?s tuition increases, tax increases and a need for change in New Jersey.
“Jon Corzine and his sycophantic Democrat allies have been a disaster for New Jersey,” he said. “Christie is direct, honest and genuine. I agree with him on most of the issues, and am so happy that he was elected because he is such a breath of fresh air, and a sign of hope for a more honest, leaner, and affordable New Jersey government.”