- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 4, 2001

NEW YORK Republican Bret D. Schundler goes into the New Jersey gubernatorial election on Tuesday badly trailing his opponent, Democrat James E. McGreevey, in most polls.
Mr. McGreevey, the mayor of Woodbridge Township, has a commanding lead of 52 percent to 35 percent over Mr. Schundler, the former two-term conservative Republican mayor of Jersey City, in the latest Quinnipiac University poll among likely voters. Eleven percent are undecided.
A New York Times poll on Oct. 26 indicated that Mr. Schundler's pledge not to raise taxes and expand state financing of private schools the main theme of his campaign is not persuading New Jersey voters to vote for him. Most voters believe that taxes will be increased no matter who becomes governor, the survey shows. An estimated 21 percent of voters remain undecided in the poll.
Mr. McGreevey, 44, who came within 26,000 votes of defeating then-Republican Gov. Christine Todd Whitman in 1997, began the race with a 19-point lead over Mr. Schundler.
Mr. McGreevey has attacked Mr. Schundler for his pro-life views and his proposal to allow residents to carry concealed weapons under certain circumstances. The Democrat has also charged that his adversary raised rather than reduced taxes while mayor of Jersey City. Mr. Schundler is widely credited with innovative reforms during his stewardship of the city after winning in 1993 with 68 percent of the vote.
Mr. Schundler has tried to paint his opponent as someone who will raise taxes. But Mr. McGreevey has refused to be cornered on the issue, calling instead for lower auto insurance and reduced property tax rates. Mr. Schundler has also espoused eliminating tolls on the Garden State Parkway.
Democrats perceive Mr. Schundler as so unpopular that even candidates for the state Senate are attacking him in daily radio commercials. There is a possibility, political observers say, that the State Assembly and Senate, controlled by the Republican Party for a decade, could fall to the Democrats.
There are about 4.6 million registered voters in New Jersey. About 1.2 million are Democrats and about 890,000 are Republicans. However, 55 percent of all registered voters claim no party affiliation, according to the state Division of Elections.
Cliff Zukin, professor of public policy at Rutgers University, said that overall there is little attention being paid to the race in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Schundler has been very critical of the state Republican Party's role in the campaign, charging that acting Republican Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco had "hurt the party" by withholding his support.


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