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Rothenberg One of the nation's top political analysts, Stuart Rothenberg, dissects politics at the congressional and statewide levels.

Stuart Rothenberg: Key races in New Jersey, New York

June 14, 2000
Web posted at: 4:42 p.m. EDT (2042 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Wall Street executive Jon Corzine's comfortable 58 percent to 42 percent victory over former governor Jim Florio in the June 6th Democratic Senate primary was costly -- Corzine spent at least $34 million according to most estimates -- but the former Goldman Sachs executive has plenty of more cash in his pockets.

That wealth, and the Democrat's willingness to use it, has Republicans wondering whether their nominee, Rep. Bob Franks, will be able to raise enough cash to get in and stay in the game.

The early polling gives Franks, a veteran of the state Legislature and a former state party chairman, some reason for optimism. A June 2-4 Mason-Dixon poll of 423 likely voters, conducted just before the primary, showed Corzine holding a 43 percent to 36 percent lead over Franks. That's not a large margin considering the amount of advertising (and visibility) Corzine had compared to Franks.

The same poll showed Corzine's name identification at 89 percent to Franks' 64 percent.

But Florio once held a commanding lead over Corzine, so the early numbers don't necessarily indicate what will happen by the time November rolls around.

Republicans hope that Corzine's spending will cause a backlash against him. But that didn't happen in the primary, and there is no empirical reason to believe a backlash will occur in the fall. Franks' better avenue of attack may well be the Democrat's ideology, which is far more liberal than most New Jersey voters.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, that line of attack requires Franks to slam Corzine in paid media, and it isn't certain that the congressman will have the resources to come close to matching Corzine's advertising.

While the Republicans have the candidate with greater political experience and savvy -- a moderate who fits the state well -- the Democrats have the candidate with far, far deeper pockets. In a case like this, where one candidate can outspend the other by at least six or seven times, the candidate with the deeper pockets has a big edge.

New York 2nd Congressional District

Some New York and Washington Democrats were ecstatic when Rep. Rick Lazio became the GOP's Senate candidate, replacing New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was forced to withdraw from the race.

That's because Lazio represents a Long Island congressional district that looks ripe for the picking by a Democratic House candidate.

But while the district remains competitive and a priority for the Democrats, New York Republicans may well have figured out how to keep the 2nd C.D. in the GOP column. And Democrats are scratching their heads wondering what to do next.

Suffolk County Republicans chose Islip Town Clerk Joan Johnson, 66, as their nominee. If she wins in the fall, the popular African American would be the first Republican black woman ever elected to Congress. Johnson describes herself as a fiscal conservative who is pro-choice on abortion and pro-gun control.

Republican insiders insist that the party has polling data that shows Johnson far ahead of potential Democratic opponents, and Republicans seem absolutely gleeful about their choice, believing as they do that they have outwitted the Democrats.

To make matters worse for the Democrats, they are headed for a September primary between Suffolk County legislator David Bishop and Huntington Town Board member Steve Israel.

New Jersey 7th Congressional District

When all of the votes were counted in the June 6th primary, Democratic insiders found that primary voters had handed them a surprise: Maryanne Connelly. The former AT&T employee and mayor of Fanwood upset Union County manager Mike Lapolla, who had the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and every county party organization in the congressional district.

Connelly, who was dismissed by critics as a relatively weak contender, found herself suddenly as the party's choice to steal the 7th C.D. from the Republicans. GOP Rep. Bob Franks, the incumbent, is running for the Senate.

Connelly will face Mike Ferguson in the fall. A conservative who lost to Rep. Frank Pallone (D) in a neighboring district two years ago and who was in the middle of another challenge to Pallone, Ferguson immediately changed races after Franks announced his Senate bid.

Ferguson won the Republican nomination in the 7th C.D. rather easily, beating the son of former Gov. Tom Kean, an Essex County state legislator, and a former Capitol Hill staffer.

The Connelly-Ferguson match should be interesting, since neither candidate has much of an advantage over the other, and both parties have activists who didn't support their nominees. And the competitiveness of the district, along with the fight for control of the U.S. House of Representatives, should guarantee a spirited race, with outside groups very active.

Electoral College outlook: Al Gore (D) versus George W. Bush (R).

Needed to elect: 270

  • Safe/Likely Bush:
    Alabama (9 elec. votes)
    Alaska (3)
    Idaho (4)
    Indiana (12)
    Kansas (6)
    Mississippi (7)
    Nevada (4)
    Nebraska (5)
    North Dakota (3)
    Oklahoma (8)
    South Carolina (8)
    South Dakota (3)
    Texas (32)
    Utah (5)
    Virginia (13)
    Wyoming (3)
    Safe/Likely Bush Total: 125

  • Advantage Bush
    Arizona (8)
    Colorado (8)
    Florida (25)
    Georgia (13)
    Kentucky (8)
    Montana (3)
    North Carolina (14)
    Ohio (21)
    Advantage Bush Total: 100

  • Total Bush: 125 +100 = 225

  • Safe/Likely Gore
    California (54)
    D.C. (3)
    Hawaii (4)
    Maryland (10)
    Massachusetts (12)
    Minnesota (10)
    New York (33)
    Rhode Island (4)
    Tennessee (11)
    Safe/Likely Gore Total: 141

  • Lean Gore
    Connecticut (8)
    Maine (4)
    New Jersey (15)
    Vermont (3)
    West Virginia (5)
    Lean Gore Total: 35

  • Total Gore: 141 + 35 = 176
  • Toss-Up
    Arkansas (6)
    Delaware (3)
    Illinois (22)
    Iowa (7)
    Louisiana (9)
    Michigan (18)
    Missouri (11)
    New Hampshire (4)
    New Mexico (5)
    Oregon (7)
    Pennsylvania (23)
    Washington (11)
    Wisconsin (11)
    Total Toss-Up: 137

  • Totals
    Bush 225
    Gore 176
    Toss-Up 137
    ELECTION 2000


    If you need to know who's up in 1999 or 2000 and what seats are open launch this quick guide.

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    Wednesday, June 14, 2000

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