Corzine cashes in, and wins

The New Jersey millionaire scores a nomination while Republican Jack E. Robinson gets on base in his race against Ted Kennedy.

By Alicia Montgomery

Published June 7, 2000 7:30PM (EDT)

Jon Corzine, a former Wall Street financier, poured more than $30 million of his own money into campaigning for the New Jersey Democratic nomination for Senate. It paid off. The New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that Corzine cruised to victory against former Gov. Jim Florio in what many thought would be a closer race. "To the people of New Jersey I say thank you," Corzine told supporters. "My candidacy has taken a next step, a very big next step, but it is not the final step. The final step is on Nov. 7 ... Let me make very clear we have only just begun." Despite the bruising primary battle, Florio was gracious in defeat and vowed to vigorously back Corzine's bid. "We are all going to work to make sure that we have a Democratic senator for this election in November," Florio said in his concession speech. "I agree with him a lot more than I would agree with any of those Republicans ... I am a Democrat and I will be working very hard to elect Democrats."

In addition to Corzine's walloping wallet power, Florio suffered from a rain-depressed turnout and residual resentment regarding the historic $2.8 billion tax increases he approved as governor. Elsewhere in state elections, the Associated Press reports that Rep. Bob Franks won the GOP senatorial primary, while long-serving Republican Rep. Marge Roukema turned back a conservative challenger.

Home run for Jack E. Robinson
Another deep-pocketed novice politician proved victorious in Massachusetts. The Boston Herald reports that Republican Jack E. Robinson earned the right to battle Sen. Ted Kennedy in the fall election. A lengthy examination of Robinson's nomination paperwork found that the former businessman had collected 10,139 valid voter signatures, only 139 more than the number required for a spot on the ballot. "We never lost faith," Robinson said after the final validation. "The reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated." The GOP all but abandoned Robinson after he revealed several unsavory elements of his personal history in a preemptive strike, Robinson said, against a prying press. Robinson's disclosures included a drunken-driving arrest and a restraining order issued against him by a former girlfriend.

Pro-choice Republicans walk the plank
Though George W. Bush claims to be a new-style Republican, his party stands by the old-style anti-abortion language in its platform, according to the New York Times. Gov. Tommy Thompson, chairman of the GOP platform committee, has pledged to leave unchanged the party's promise to outlaw all abortions, and support the appointment of judges "who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life." While pro-choice forces within the GOP expressed disappointment, Republican Pro-Choice Coalition co-chairwoman Susan Cullman did find a silver lining in the defeat. "We certainly feel better than we did in '92 or '96. Then, we were totally stonewalled out of the process," she said. "It's true, these are small victories, but they're not unimportant."

Nader's raiders chasing Gore
Green Party candidate Ralph Nader is a growing threat to Al Gore, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Disaffected liberals and globalization skeptics, who are looking for a home away from the Democratic Party, are swelling the ranks of the consumer activist's grass-roots supporters. "The Democrats are turning into a crypto-Republican Party," Nader said from his Washington headquarters. "If you can't rely on them to save you from the Republican right, then what good are they?" Though he led a largely symbolic presidential effort in 1996, signs are that Nader means business this time. His campaign has set a fundraising goal of $5 million, a paltry amount compared with the Republican and Democratic coffers, but an exponential increase over the $5,000 Nader spent in his last run.

Bill and Al's excellent adventure
The vice president has finally won the support of his primary foe, Bill Bradley. The Associated Press reports that the former New Jersey senator cast a ballot for Gore during his state's primary, but still resisted making an official endorsement. "I said I'd give him my full support, and that's what I will do," Bradley told reporters. As for a more dramatic Democratic reconciliation, ` la McCain-Bush, Bradley said no such plans are in the works. In fact, he displayed a McCain-esque enthusiasm for his party's likely nominee. When asked whether his planned campaigning for Democratic candidates included some Gore events, Bradley replied, "Uh, that's ... sure, yeah, by all means."

Democrats plan Gore air raid
Though Bradley remains a bit cool to Gore's candidacy, the Democratic National Committee plans to heat up the race with a barrage of political ads, according to the AP. Gore will be featured in $25 million worth of television spots aimed primarily at Midwestern and swing states, but none will specifically target Bush. Instead, the ads will tout Gore's biography and record, highlighting his stands on healthcare and Social Security.

The sunny-side attitude doesn't impress Bush, who accuses Gore of breaking his earlier pledge to steer clear of soft-money advertising. "It sounds like to me they're laying out a smoke screen to provide an excuse for Al Gore to break his promise," the Texas governor said during a campaign stop. Gore has always conditioned his pledge on the GOP's joining the Democrats in abstaining from such ads.

Soft money stuffs coffers
Even after an ad blitz, both parties will have plenty of soft money left, reports CNN. According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, Republicans have collected $86.4 million in unregulated soft-money contributions, compared with $77 million for Democrats. Those figures represent an increase of more than 90 percent from the last presidential election cycle. Though John McCain led a highly publicized charge against these types of donations, there is still, as Gore once said, "no controlling legal authority" to monitor them.

Pitchfork Pat skewers press
Though he proved victorious at a raucous Reform Party convention in California, Pat Buchanan is still on the warpath, this time targeting the press. On Monday, Buchanan sent the Washington Post's executive editor, Leonard Downie, a scathing letter, blasting the paper for "transparently one-sided" coverage of his California conflict. The Reform Party hopeful specifically cited a June 4 article about his troubles and what he considered a dearth of information about his ultimate victory. "The Post, which had trumpeted the threat, ignored our triumph. Not one word," Buchanan complained. He further implied that the paper could doom his presidential effort with an anti-Buchanan slant. "The Washington Post owns and operates one of the key polls that is charged with measuring whether our campaign has reached the 15 percent threshold for participation in the presidential debates," he wrote. "So, we are, to an extraordinary degree, dependent on fair and comprehensive coverage."

On Tuesday, the Washington Post ran a short item documenting Buchanan's victory in California.

Poll positions

Presidential race (previous):

  • Bush 46 to Gore 41 (Zogby May 10-13)
  • Bush 47 to Gore 39 (CBS News/New York Times May 10-13).
  • Bush 49 to Gore 44 (ABC News/Washington Post May 7-10).
  • Bush 51 to Gore 43 (Los Angeles Times May 4-7).
  • Bush 46 to Gore 45 (Pew Center May 2-6).
  • Bush 48 to Gore 42 ( May 1-3).

    Vice presidential preferences (previous):
    Preferences for Republican vice presidential candidate among Republican voters (NBC/Wall Street Journal April 29-May 1):

  • Colin Powell, 39 percent
  • Elizabeth Dole, 19 percent
  • John McCain, 18 percent
  • Christine Todd Whitman, 5 percent
  • Fred Thompson, 6 percent
  • John Kaisch, 4 percent
  • Tom Ridge, 3 percent
  • Other, 1 percent
  • Not sure, 5 percent

    Preferences for Democratic vice presidential candidate among all voters (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll March 22-23):
  • Bill Bradley, 27 percent
  • Dianne Feinstein, 10 percent
  • Bob Kerrey, 6 percent
  • Bob Graham, 5 percent
  • John Kerry, 4 percent
  • Bill Richardson, 4 percent
  • Evan Bayh, 3 percent
  • Other, 6 percent
  • Not sure, 35 percent

    On the trail
    Bush: Texas.
    Gore: California.
    Nader: To be announced.

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  • Alicia Montgomery

    Alicia Montgomery is an associate editor in Salon's Washington bureau.

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