Republicans have been suggesting that they might just have a shot in New Jersey. But the former governor and pugilist James Florio knocked that idea down for a TKO in an interview with Salon as he checked into Boston's Parker House with the enthusiastic delegation from the Garden State. "Sure they do," he said, "and I have a shot at being Bill Gates in my next life." Florio predicted that John Kerry would take the state by 10 points. He also said that "a substantial number" of moderate Republicans will defect to support the Democratic candidate. "Many New Jersey Republicans are uncomfortable with the national GOP philosophy." Florio is now teaching public policy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.
New Jersey was once a competitive state in presidential contests, even one that tended to lean Republican. But after a long spell of Republican voting New Jersey swing Democratic beginning in 1992 for Bill Clinton and has voted Democratic in the last three elections since. Former Republican governor Christie Whitman, a quintessential moderate who defeated Florio, was named by President Bush as director of the Environmental Protection Agency, but she quit disillusioned with Bush's policies. She remained quiet about how she was shunted aside in policy councils, but Paul O'Neill, former Secretary of the Treasury, in "The Price of Loyalty," recounted her humiliation at the hands of Vice President Cheney. Kerry leads Bush in the latest poll in New Jersey by six points.