- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2000

NEW YORK Republican Rep. Bob Franks and political neophyte Jon S. Corzine are sprinting to Election Day tomorrow in a whirlwind of appearances across New Jersey, leaving no diner, train station, nursing home or Dunkin' Donuts deprived of their message.
The campaign to replace the retiring Democratic Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg one of five open-seat races in the U.S. Senate has centered on Mr. Corzine's spending habits. Both men have devoted substantial time and effort talking about the financier's vast personal fortune, an estimated $60 million of which has been spent on this Senate race.
"I'm running against a human ATM machine," Mr. Franks has said of his Democratic opponent, a former co-chairman of Goldman, Sachs and Co., the Wall Street investment house.
Most polls indicate Mr. Corzine is leading in the 11th hour and most political observers agree that any momentum perceived by Republican forces may be too late in coming.
In a Star Ledger/Eagleton Institute survey conducted among 432 likely voters late last month, Mr. Corzine led Mr. Franks 46 percent to 37 percent, with 17 percent undecided. The latest Quinnipiac College poll conducted last week has Mr. Corzine ahead of his rival, 47 percent to 39 percent.
Mr. Corzine, who spent $40 million on his primary campaign against former Gov. Jim Florio and $2 million on primary election day alone, has defended his spending, claiming he is, above all, an independent candidate. "I'm going to be unbought and unbossed in this process, not beholden to the special interests, and I think that is a bigger concern among voters than how much I spend of my own money," he said.
Mr. Corzine claims he is so immune to outside influence, he has pledged to put his portfolio $400 million of which is tied up in Goldman Sachs stock that he cannot sell because of a contractual agreement into a blind trust once he reaches the Senate. Such a trust, Republicans argue, would hardly be blind.
Mr. Franks will have spent about $5 million by tomorrow.
Each party has sent its heavy artillery into the state. Mr. Franks campaigned with Sen. John McCain of Arizona last week in an effort to reach independent voters, and even borrowed his Straight Talk Express bus, which he is expected to ride until Election Day. Mr. Franks, 49, was one of the original sponsors of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform legislation, a version of which already has passed in the House.
New York Gov. George E. Pataki also has campaigned with Mr. Franks, as has New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is popular in northern New Jersey.
Mr. Corzine said he hopes to have President Clinton stump with him before Election Day.
Editorial boards of several newspapers, including the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Post, have endorsed Mr. Franks, citing his opponent's spending habits. The New York Observer gave its endorsement to Mr. Corzine, noting, "It's his money, after all."
Mr. Corzine, 53, who grew up on a rented farm in Illinois, has concentrated on blue-collar voters, minorities and the elderly. A classic liberal, he advocates "universal" health care coverage and a general expansion of government-funded programs. He also is looking for a strong turnout from labor's rank and file, actively courting unions and pledging to advance their causes.
At a recent stop in downtown Newark, the Musicians Guild of Essex and Morris Counties endorsed Mr. Corzine. In return, he pledged to support increased funding for the National Endowment for the Arts if he is elected to the Senate.
On Election Day, the financier is set to mount a massive get-out-the-vote effort. Mr. Corzine is banking literally and figuratively on paid "volunteers" to help him. The New York Times reported that residents of homeless shelters and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in North Philadelphia are being bused into New Jersey for $75 a day plus coffee and sandwiches to work on getting out the vote for Mr. Corzine.
For his part, the multimillionaire Democrat has no problem with busing the homeless and addicted, but he would have preferred that they lived in New Jersey. "It has nothing to do with cash payments," he said. "It's about the normal process of getting people out to vote."
The Franks camp has charged that Mr. Corzine is set to spend as much as $10 million on Election Day alone. State Democratic officials say the Election Day budget is $3 million, $2 million of which will come from Mr. Corzine's campaign. The state GOP is expected to spend a mere $750,000 to get voters to the polls.
Cliff Zukin, director of the Eagleton poll, said he sees a clear victory for Mr. Corzine. "It's not going to be within a few points," he said, adding, "Corzine was able to get there first and define himself and then define his opponent as a conservative Republican."
Exit polls from 1996 indicated that Democrats made up 38 percent of the electorate, Republicans 30 percent and independents 32 percent. Some political observers expect the number of Democratic voters to increase, believing a shift to the Democratic Party was evident in 1997 when Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman won by a razor-thin margin over James E. McGreevey.

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