As NJ election nears, voters rapt on World Series
Fastballs or fundraisers? Team bus or campaign bus? Stump speeches or stolen bases? New Jersey is about to become fixated on a World Series featuring two teams that play just minutes outside the state. And the Fall Classic probably will mean less fixation on the state's other big event: a bitter gubernatorial election to be decided Tuesday, the scheduled day off between Games 5 and 6. For Republican Chris Christie, Democratic incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine and independent Chris Daggett, the big game adds to the challenge of getting the attention of voters where the big red state-blue state question these days is about Philadelphia Phillies red and New York Yankees blue, not Republicans and Democrats. "The World Series will have a very serious impact on this campaign because nobody's going to be focused," said Brigid Harrison, a political scientist at Montclair State University and a Phillies fan. Harrison said the World Series probably will be featured during times at the top of newscasts in New York and Philadelphia that otherwise may have been devoted to politics, including the New Jersey governor's race. The same goes for daily newspapers around the state - especially their front pages, which are also full of baseball features these days. Mike DuHaime, a consultant for Christie, said it's just another challenge of running a campaign in a state dominated by stations in New York and Philadelphia, the nation's largest and fourth-largest media markets. The series also may be a strikeout or a grand slam for the campaigns in terms of advertising. "If everybody from Mahwah to Cape May is watching the same thing at the same time, this is the ideal," said Ben Dworkin, a political scientist at Rider University. But it's not clear which, if any, of the campaigns will be able to take advantage of the built-in audience. The campaigns won't say whether they will pay for the airtime. Harrison said she expects only Corzine, who is running a Yankees-style, sky-high payroll kind of campaign, to be able to afford TV time during the games. He's spent more than $23 million so far on his re-election effort - almost all of it his own money. The other two are accepting public money, which comes with a spending limit of $10.9 million. Christie will be able to spend that much, but Daggett's fund-raising fell far short. The candidates - all of whom say they're rooting for the Yankees - are trying traditional ways to reach voters. Christie and Daggett are both touring the state in buses. Corzine also is making plenty of campaign appearances, including one with President Barack Obama on Sunday.