Key insiders of the governor’s race come to Rider

By Amber Cox

The Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics is continuing its efforts to make history by bringing in the key strategists from November’s gubernatorial race.

Ben Dworkin, director of the Rebovich Institute, said that this is an effort to retrace the steps of last year’s very important race.

“There were only two states in the whole nation that had governor’s races last November, Virginia and us,” he said. “We were the only game in town. Wewere one of only two races in the nation with tremendous national attention, national money and support on both sides.”

Although the election is over and the winner is in, Dworkin feels that bringing in these key people is an important step for Rider University to take.

“No other institution in New Jersey produces this kind of post-mortem on the campaign,” he said. “This is our second year of doing this kind of conference and we expect that it will continue to be a Rider tradition. This is for history.”

Last year, the institute held a three-part panel examining the different aspects of the 3rd Congressional District’s 2008 race between state Sen. John Adler (D) and Medford Mayor Chris Myers (R).

The conference begins on Thursday, Feb. 11, and continues into Feb. 12. The first session is titled “Polling the Electorate” and begins with Adam Geller, Gov. Chris Christie’s pollster and President/CEO of National Research, Inc.

“This conference is dealing with a very specific goal,” Dworkin said. “We begin with the pollster in an effort to understand what was the lay of the land in terms of public opinion and to begin to get some insights into how things [changed].”

The second session, titled “Mobilizing the Party,” includes the Hon. Jay Webber, member of the state Legislature, who is also Republican State Party Chairman, and the Hon. Joseph Cryan, member of the state Legislature and former Democratic State Party Chairman.

“The third panel is then the top strategists for each side,” Dworkin said. “How they began to take these resources they were getting from their party, the lay of the land in terms of political operation and beginning to create a pathway to win. What was the road to victory? Each of them had one, and one worked and one didn’t.”

Mike DuHaime, the lead strategist for Christie, and Maggie Moran, campaign manager for Jon Corzine, will be leading the third panel.

“Friday morning, we begin with the people who had to implement the plan,” Dworkin said.

The panel is entitled “Campaign Management,” and includes Bill Stepien, campaign manager for Christie, and Kevin Drennan, statewide field director for Corzine.

The final panel involves the media consultants and includes Brad Lawrence, Corzine’s lead media consultant, and DuHaime.

“All of this is sort of a progression in order to break down and understand beyond what we know from news articles,” Dworkin said. “What were people thinking? What we’re trying to do here is establish a historical record about what happened, why it happened and why it worked or didn’t work. The best people to explain this are the insiders who made these key decisions.”

Dworkin continued to emphasize the importance of what the institute is trying to accomplish by bringing in the key insiders to the campaign.

“There have been other programs around the state that have analyzed the election, but this is the only one that gets in this deep and talks exclusively to the people who were the decision makers,” he said. “We’re retracing the steps in the campaign because the lessons learned from 2009 will impact 2010 and beyond.”

For a schedule of events, go to www.rider.edu/16195_856.htm.

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