The New Jersey governor’s race has a debate tonight:

This fall’s race for governor between Democrat Jon Corzine and Republican Doug Forrester ratchets up a notch tonight at 8 with the candidates’ first televised debate. It’s on the NJN Network.

There should be a webcast at

Meanwhile, Forrester is running ads calling the Democratic Party corrupt:

“Fed Up,” another 30-second commercial for Mr. Forrester, began running this week on cable and on network television stations in New York and Philadelphia.

PRODUCER Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm.

ON THE SCREEN The ad shows close-ups of a multicultural collection of people, identified by name and party affiliation, who appear to share two common traits: they are all Democrats, and all disgusted with the way their party has run state government.

THE SCRIPT “I voted for Democrats almost all my life – but not this time.”… “I’m a Democrat and I am fed up”… “The corruption is out of control” … “It is pathetic”… “It’s hurting our schools”…”The corruption is causing higher property taxes”… “Enough is enough”… “The people of New Jersey, we deserve better” … “It’s time for a change in New Jersey”… “Only Doug Forrester has the honesty and integrity to fix things”… “I’m a Democrat who’s voting for Doug Forrester”… “It’s time to take back New Jersey.”

ACCURACY After a parade of corruption scandals in New Jersey’s state and local governments in recent years, most polls now show that voters of both parties consider ethics a top issue. And two of those scandals have indeed involved educational institutions squandering millions in tax dollars – one involving the Schools Construction Corporation, the other the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. But the contention that Mr. Forrester is the only man honest enough to clean up state politics has been complicated by the fact that he has spent weeks defending himself from accusations that his company, BeneCard Services, received no-bid government contracts, and his campaign might be in violation of a state law that forbids insurance company owners to make political contributions.

SCORECARD This ad attempts to pull off a twofer: reminding people of the state’s disheartening spate of corruption cases while coaxing despondent Democrats to voice their displeasure by voting for Mr. Forrester. Democrats hold a substantial registration advantage in New Jersey, so those crossover voters will be essential for Mr. Forrester to overcome Mr. Corzine’s double-digit lead in most polls. Given the widespread revulsion with political corruption in the state, it could effectively energize voters eager for change – if it can be heard above the lingering questions surrounding Mr. Forrester’s own business practices and campaign finances. One other point: As in “The Doug I Know” commercial, Mr. Forrester never appears in this ad, and the Republican Party is never

Despite the staggering hypocrisy in this ad, it will probably be effective. The New Jersey Democratic party is rife with corruption and always has been. The New Jersey Republican Party has also been corrupt for as long as I can remember. It’s the nature of the state. But Corzine is not a product of the party machine. He rose to the top by spending his own fortune and he is not tainted by associations with the party bosses. Corzine cut everyone who matters a check and was done with it. As Jersey candidates go, Corzine is as clean as they come, and it is one of his selling points. Forrester is wise to try to paint Corzine as just another corrupt politician (like himself).

He’s also wise not to show his face or mention the Republican Party in his commercials. Democrats might use this strategy in some deep southern states.

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