Winners and Losers: Post Election Day edition

As we began to compile our extensive list of Winners and Losers, one question dogged us:  What to do with Gov. Chris Christie?

His candidate for president lost, and he turned the ire of some of the party faithful by cozying up closely to President Obama, providing the Democratic incumbent with a one-on-one photo op denied his republican challenger.

But few believed a Mitt Romney victory would do Christie much good anyway. If Christie has designs on the 2016 presidency, Romney’s loss positions the New Jersey governor to return to the good graces of Republicans irritated with him for embracing President Barack Obama during Hurricane Sandy.

As for all the national campaigning he did for Romney – it was the perfect platform for the Jersey guy to sell himself as a populist alongside a presidential candidate deemed too stiff, removed and rich by the public.

Christie’s candidate for U.S. Senate lost, too. But Christie never acted like his friend, state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13) could win, arguing at the outset that New Jersey Democrats’ 700,000-voter-registration advantage would be hard for Joe to overcome.

Down the stretch of the election, Sandy gave Christie a prime chance to lead the state in the crisis and show bipartisan commitment a year before his own gubernatorial re-election campaign.

In the end, Christie’s own brand prevailed.

Look for his job approval rating to jump in the next poll. Sandy will make more of an impact than Mourdock.

Plus, now Christie has Obama’s personal cell phone number.

So in the end, the jury is out on what the 2012 election will mean for Christie’s fortunes, so we took the easy way out and put him up here instead.

 

WINNERS

 

Mike DuHaime

With Mitt Romney’s loss last night, the respected GOP political operative stands in a good position to run Chris Christie’s 2016 presidential campaign, should one materialize.

Maggie Moran

The Democratic Party power operative’s new firm, M Public Affairs, ran the Ballot Question One Campaign, authorizing the state to issue bonds in the aggregate principal of $750 million to provide matching grants to New Jersey’s colleges and universities. It passed with 60% of the vote and she did it while dealing with the near destruction of Belmar, where she lives and her husband is mayor.

Joe Vitale

The 19th District state senator built a relationship with the mayor of Perth Amboy and forcefully backed her re-election. Seeking a second term, Wilda Diaz prevailed Tuesday night with Vitale at her side.

Bill Pascrell

The Paterson native demonstrated his crossover power in South Bergen, putting up strong turnout numbers on his way to trouncing Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Hundreds of thousands of dollars from Sheldon Adelson’s SuperPAC couldn’t propel the willing Boteach, who lost by nearly 50 percentage points.

Lou Stellato

Badly dented after the 9th District Democratic Primary, the Bergen County Democratic Committee chairman had to bounce back convincingly in the general election, and did last night. Arguably out of his control with Bob Menendez and Bill Pascrell helping to drive turnout models, Stellato nonetheless benefited as his two freeholder candidates won and Democrats regained control of the Freeholder Board. Adam Silverstein helped the boss with mail, TV, messaging, all debate prep and GOTV program. 

Boss Politics

The rainbow coalition looked great on television, but in New Jersey congressional politics, the gerrymandered structures designed by the party machines at the Heldrich Hotel gave big advantages to incumbent politicians – all of whom won comfortably.  A big storyline in the rest of the country Tuesday night was women, including those women pursuing Senate seats, as Missourian Claire McCaskill won re-election, Elizabeth Warren defeated Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Heidi Heitkamp won in North Dakota, and Tammy Baldwin prevailed in Wisconsin. Wilda Diaz’s Perth Amboy victory notwithstanding, women were not as successful here. In our House contests 12 male incumbents provided the state with 12 mostly walk-through victories. “A delegation that is the envy of the country,” declared Democratic State Committee Chairman John Wisniewski.

Wilda Diaz

The state’s lone Latina mayor faced a difficult re-election bid in Perth Amboy but seized on the advantage of a divided field of candidates to win by 1,700 votes.

Bob Menendez

The incumbent U.S. senator wanted a significant victory and got it Tuesday night, destroying Joe Kyrillos by 18 points. Democrats maintaining control of the U.S. Senate and Barack Obama’s re-election win were further pluses for Menendez, who is on a very short list to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the event Sen. John Kerry succeeds Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

Jon Runyan

He all but came into office in cleats and now, with a convincing nine-point win over challenger Shelley Adler, the former offensive lineman can credibly claim the mantle of Congressman.

Julie Roginsky

The sharp-talking Democratic Party operative served as the chief campaign strategist for Mayor Wilda Diaz’s re-election campaign.

Jon Bramnick

The Assembly Minority Leader wanted to hold onto the LD 16 Assembly seat, and did, when Assemblywoman Donna Simon (R-16) narrowly defeated teacher challenger Marie Corfield.

Steve Fulop

Heading toward the 2013 Jersey City mayor’s race, the downtown Jersey City councilman put money down and organized his forces behind Ward F Council candidate Diane Coleman, who Tuesday night defeated the Mayor Jerry Healy-backed Michele Massey. Fulop’s allies see Coleman’s win as evidence that the councilman has organizational ability beyond downtown.

The Elizabeth Board of Education

State Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-20) was able to pry loose one Board of Education seat from the Rafael Fajardo-supported group, but the Fajardo forces maintained a grip on two of the three.

Kristen Antonello

Runyan’s district director served as his campaign manager for the congressman’s second straight winning election.

Pete Botsolas

The classy executive director of the Bergen County Democratic Committee ran the whole show this year.  

Bruce Springsteen

The man from Freehold went all in with President Barack Obama, playing guitar and harmonica at the president’s Iowa campaign finale and contributing “We Take Care of Our Own” to Obama’s short list of campaign songs.

 

LOSERS

Joe Kyrillos

The 13th District state senator ran a safety-first campaign and got crushed Tuesday night by the incumbent. Kyrillos did a good job raising money, but failed to aggressively argue contrast and left voters wondering why they should vote for him. The gentlemanly Kyrillos blamed the media for not understanding, but even his closest party allies acknowledged the campaign was moribund.

Kim Guadagno

It’s a good thing it wasn’t close. Mauled by Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey needed a coherent disaster plan on Election Day. The lieutenant governor didn’t provide one, as she signed off on an email and fax ballot application process that swamped clerks’ offices. She tried to correct the problem by allowing an extension for email and fax voting, which mobilized – not voters – but constitutional lawyers.

Jim Devine

The Union County gadfly tried to play the tough guy by telling Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Diaz she wasn’t smart enough to be mayor. Devine’s ill-placed email was the equivalent of a bugle blast mobilizing the state’s women to rush to Diaz’s defense and give her a boost on her way to re-election.

John Wisniewski

If all politics is local, the State Democratic Chairman – and 19th District Assemblyman – sustained a loss Tuesday night as his candidate for Perth Amboy mayor went down in defeat. This was Vitale versus Wisniewski and Wisniewski came up short.

The Burlington GOP

Chairman Bill Layton can’t take top of the ticket losses like he did Tuesday night and hold onto county seats. Just as in 2008 when he lost two freeholder seats, Layton lost two more Tuesday night as President Barack Obama drove turnout and propelled Democrats to victory.

Bob Yudin

The frazzled Bergen GOP chairman tried to keep focused a party badly mangled by civil war. In the end his efforts proved inadequate as Rob Hermansen and Peg Watkins lost to Steve Tannelli and Tracy Zur and control of the Bergen Freeholder Board swung to Democrats.

The CWA

The Communications Workers of America had a place on the wall right next to former Orange Mayor Eldridge Hawkins for the political head of Wilda Diaz. They poured in some late money for challenger Billy Delgado and had troops in Perth Amboy organizing, and in the end couldn’t oust Diaz.

Pablo Fonseca

The former Chief of Staff for Newark Mayor Cory Booker tried hard but couldn’t summon victory for Frank Salado in Perth Amboy.

George Gilmore

The Ocean County GOP Chairman was up against impossible odds Tuesday night in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and fought to put the best effort on storm election response. County operations hummed admirably given the damage, but Toms River’s first November school board election brought in another wave of change with the election of Ginny Rhine (R), Joe Torrone (I) of Toms River and GiGi Esparza (D) of South Toms River, all beating Gilmore’s allies.

Tom Booth

The Camden County GOP Chairman lost by 2,000 votes in his bid for a Voorhees Township Committee seat.

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