Giuliani campaign scores big victory in N.J. procedural vote

New Jersey Republicans just made Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign a little easier.

Typically, New Jersey delegates are assigned to the winner in each of New Jersey’s 13 congressional districts. But under the “winner-take-all” rule that the Republican State Committee adopted tonight, the candidate with the largest statewide vote will get all of New Jersey’s delegates come the 2008 Republican Convention.

For Giuliani, who’s sometimes referred to as a “pseudo son” of New Jersey, this means he won’t have to spend time and money campaigning in the few local congressional districts that he doesn’t already have locked down. Instead, his campaign can funnel the money he would have used here into more contentious states.

There’s no question that the new rule helps Giuliani. But what it means for New Jersey voters and the state Republican party is not as certain.

Backers of the new rule argue that tying the local party to Giuliani can only help, as his visits to the state will focus more on fundraising for local candidates instead of for himself. And the beleaguered local party may be able to ride his coattails to some local victories in the 2008 general election.

“New Jersey will benefit greatly from winner-take-all, because Mayor Giuliani will be victorious,” said Giuliani campaign manager Michael DuHaime, who attended tonight’s Republican State Committee meeting. “Mayor Giuliani will carry New Jersey in such a way that the benefits will ripple right down for our party.”

Critics of the winner-take-all rule, some of them supporters of other primary candidates, echoed State Senator Joe Kyrillos’s recent Asbury Park Press editorial – that the point of New Jersey moving its primary ahead to February 5th was to make the state more competitive and influential in the selection of the next President. Locking up the state for Giuliani may get local Republicans in his good graces, but would fail to attract other candidates.

“The only chance we have of making New Jersey a battleground, the barrel open at both ends, if you will….. is to give the other candidates an opportunity to win something,” said David Norcross, who represents New Jersey in the Republican National Committee and is Mitt Romney’s New Jersey State Co-Chair. “If there is an opportunity to pick off a congressional district or two or three or four, it may be worthwhile to come here.”

"This meeting is entirely off the record. Until somebody leaks it."
—Michael Kempner, addressing a roomful of Democratic powerbrokers organizng for Hillary Clinton