Trenton (New Jersey): Chris Christie, an aggressive former prosecutor who racked up a perfect conviction rate in public corruption cases and became the darling of New Jersey`s Republican Party establishment, has unseated the deep-pocketed but unpopular Gov. Jon Corzine.
Christie, 47, on Tuesday became the first member of his party in a dozen years to win a statewide contest in heavily Democratic New Jersey. President Barack Obama invested heavily in the race, campaigning with Corzine five times on three separate visits.
With 75 percent of precincts reporting, Christie had 50 percent of the vote compared to 44 percent for Corzine. Independent candidate Chris Daggett, who at one point had been feared as a potential spoiler, had about 5 percent.
Christie accepted public financing in the race against the wealthy incumbent and was outspent by more than $12 million. He did get financial help from the Republican Governors Association and other national Republican groups, which bought television time in the pricey New York and Philadelphia media markets.
Christie ran on a platform of smaller government and relentlessly criticized Corzine for what he called poor economic stewardship — unemployment was 9.8 percent in October and property taxes averaged $7,045 per household, the nation`s highest. But he was criticized during the campaign for remaining vague about how he would solve New Jersey`s chronic fiscal problems.
The physically robust Christie endured an onslaught of personal attacks from the Corzine campaign; his weight even became a central issue at one point.
Christie made a reputation for himself as a hard-charging US attorney who locked up 130 officials without losing a single corruption case.
However, his image as an ethics champion was questioned when revelations emerged that he had lent a subordinate money but failed to report it, and that he`d been involved in a traffic accident but was not ticketed.
In the final days of the campaign, while Corzine was campaigning with Obama and former President Bill Clinton, Christie hit all 21 counties aboard a bus, campaigning with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean.
Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, who was sharply criticized when he yelled, "You lie," during Obama`s health care speech to a joint session of Congress, stumped for Christie in the campaign`s final weekend.