"Let's send them a message." That's the refrain most often heard this campaign season in New Jersey. Unfortunately it's also the phrase uttered most often by those who are planning to vote for Independent gubernatorial candidate Christopher Daggett.
People are fed up with property taxes, unemployment, fiscal mismanagement, and corruption. Voters want something to change. But for something to change, you have to do more than "send a message" - you have to vote for someone who can defeat Jon Corzine on November 3. Nothing changes if the governor remains the same.
I personally like the idea of third-party candidates. I voted for Ross Perot - twice! But a vote for an independent candidate can not be a protest vote. You have to believe that your candidate has a real plan that will work, or that the two traditional party candidates are each so awful that there is no choosing between them.
Daggett loses on both criteria. Firstly, there is no way a plan that sends an additional $4 billion in taxes each year to Trenton can possibly make our state government any leaner and lead to lower taxes overall. Secondly, can any Daggett supporter who has lived through four years of Jon Corzine truly say that Chris Christie would be no better? And don't you realize that the only thing reigning in Jon Corzine, at least a little bit, has been his need to be elected to a second term? What will happen in the next four years if he gets in again?
The reality is that the real protest vote - if that's how you want to frame it - is a vote for Chris Christie. That's the vote that will really send a message to Trenton.