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New Jersey independent gubernatorial candidate, Chris Daggett

Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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HH: I begin with a focus on New Jersey, the Garden State, which will elect a governor in four weeks. One of the men who would be governor is independent candidate Chris Daggett. He joins me now. Mr. Daggett, welcome to the program.

CD: Good morning or afternoon or evening. How are you today?

HH: I’m great. Are you a Phillies fan by chance?

CD: I’m not a Phillies fan, although for the National League, sure, at this point, possibly. But ultimately, I’ve been a Yankees fan.

HH: Okay, so I just was checking, because the Phillies won today. I thought maybe you’d be a little bit of a celebration going on…

CD: Oh absolutely. That’s a good thing.

HH: All right. Now Chris Daggett, is Jon Corzine, the governor of New Jersey, corrupt, or is he merely incompetent?

CD: Jon Corzine’s not corrupt, but I believe that he hasn’t done a good job as governor, and frankly, I’ve come to the belief that neither party is capable of stepping up to and addressing the problems that face New Jersey, and that’s why I’ve run as an independent.

HH: Jon Corzine is not corrupt?

CD: No, he’s not corrupt.

HH: What about his relationship with Carla Katz?

CD: That…I don’t, frankly, I don’t go and comment on that, because that’s, whatever it is that he’s established, that’s a private matter, and I leave it at that.

HH: Is it a private matter when she’s the head of the communications workers union, and he negotiates a contract with her, and she’s his girlfriend? Is that a private matter?

CD: Well, it was certainly inappropriate to not make that a clearer break in terms of either properly disclosing it, or otherwise not having the interaction he had during the labor negotiations. But the relationship side of it is private.

HH: Yeah, but corrupt goes beyond whether or not a relationship is going on. Some people think that kind of relationship is corrupt, but I’m talking about the bargaining situation. Is it corrupt to deal with your girlfriend when she’s running a union?

CD: I wouldn’t call it corrupt. I’d call it inappropriate, but I wouldn’t call it corrupt.

HH: What’s the difference?

CD: I’ll let your listeners figure that out, but I don’t think it’s corruption. I think people do things that sometimes are bad judgments that just doesn’t make them corrupt. He’s not a corrupt man.

HH: But you want to run the state of New Jersey, and the need to know what the difference is, and I’m on in New Jersey, all across the state, what the difference between inappropriate and corrupt is. Would you ever negotiate with someone with whom you were having a private relationship?

CD: No, and that’s why I said to you it’s inappropriate, but it’s not corrupt.

HH: Have a number of Corzine’s people in his administration done corrupt things?

CD: No, I don’t think…there’s not a lot of corruption in the Corzine administration. We’ve had a difficulty in New Jersey of, we have what I think people refer to at times as a culture of corruption only born of the layers in government we have. But I think ultimately, our goal is to change this to a culture of service rather than a culture of corruption. I think by and large, most of the people that are in government in New Jersey, actually, the overwhelmingly large number of them are hard-working, honest individuals.

HH: Have any members of the Corzine administration been obliged to resign because of corruption?

CD: No, not…well, of the Corzine administration, no. One commissioner stepped down who was actually not charged with anything, but there was an investigation that occurred of other people, and he was asked for information about it, but was never, no charges were filed, and have not been filed since. But he, out of the belief that he should step down, did.

HH: So Chris Daggett, you want to be governor, but you don’t see any corruption in the Corzine years?

CD: No, I wouldn’t say there’s corruption, not in terms of breaking the law. And have people in local government crossed a line and are now under investigation, and have been, are now subject to charges and having to respond to those charges? Yes. But they’re not members of his administration.

HH: Is Jon Corzine responsible for any of that?

CD: No, I don’t believe he’s responsible for any of that. I mean, I’m not sure why he’d necessarily be responsible for somebody else’s transgressions.

HH: And at what point, last question on this subject, at what point would a relationship with someone like Carla Katz become corrupt in your view? What would have to happen for that to be labeled corrupt in your view?

CD: They’d have to break a law, or have to cross the line in a manner that was illegal. What he did might be inappropriate, but I don’t believe anybody’s made the allegation that it was an illegal act.

HH: Now I didn’t say illegal. I asked corrupt. And so you’re defining corrupt as illegal and nothing else?

CD: Yeah, I’m defining as crossing a line. Maybe that’s where we’re having a problem here of defining it. I’m not sure I’d define corrupt. And there are certainly inappropriate activities that people enter into that aren’t in what I’d define as corrupt, and that’s why I guess I’m defining it the way I am. Do I have problems with his administration and whether he’s been an ineffective governor? I have a lot, because, and that’s why I’ve run for governor, but it is not really on a line associated with corruption. It’s more to do with not being willing to step up to and address the very serious fiscal problems that face this state.

HH: Now you’ve got me curious, though. If there’s an area of corruption that’s not illegal, so you’re saying you can do things that are corrupt that are not illegal?

CD: Wow, we’re really getting into a definition of corruption here, huh?

HH: I think it matters in New Jersey.

CD: Pardon me?

HH: I think it matters in New Jersey.

CD: No, here’s what matters, I believe, and that is a number of people who have figured out how to game the pension system and the health care benefits system, and to effectively get on the public payroll in some fashion in a manner that is all within the law, but certainly is what you and I would consider inappropriate or corrupt or wrong, but it’s not in the sense, but it’s what I call corruption, there’s the corruption that occurs that breaks the law, and then there’s the corruption that occurs under the cover of law. And that kind of corruption is when people knowingly game the system to become part of it when they don’t, they really haven’t earned it or shouldn’t be part of it.

HH: And Jon Corzine hasn’t done, has Jon Corzine done any of that latter type?

CD: No, not in the sense that I don’t think he’s done any of that kind of thing, where he’s done things under the cover of law. He’s done something that I thing was inappropriate in negotiating union contracts, and having conversations with his girlfriend. But that doesn’t make him corrupt in the way that I think you’ve been defining here. So no, I don’t think he’s corrupt.

HH: All right, now you are, anywhere in the polls, you’re the independent candidate, you’re between 5 and 13% in the polls. There’s no way you can win.

CD: I just had a poll yesterday, there’s a poll yesterday that came out that had me at 17%.

HH: Well, all the polls that are published that I have been able to see, and I haven’t seen that one, have you between 5 and 13%. There’s no way you can win – none – zero. Why should someone vote for you and waste their vote?

CD: That’s not a wasted vote. The only wasted vote in New Jersey this year is a vote for politics as usual for either Democrats or Republicans to take over when they have demonstrated over the last fifteen years that they have only put us into a deep, fiscal hole through their irresponsible policies. And a vote for either party this year is a vote for the same old thing, and a wasted vote, in my mind. And I do not…

HH: But Chris Daggett…

CD: I don’t agree with you that I don’t have a chance of winning.

HH: Chris, no filibuster.

CD: I’m going to win this election.

HH: You can’t win. There’s no way you can win.

CD: I’m not…what makes you tell me I can’t win? That’s…

HH: Because every single poll indicia out of New Jersey puts you at 12-13%. Even if you have gone up to 17% in a poll that no one has seen, you cannot get to 34% with the other two at 33%. It’s a joke. Why should people vote for you?

CD: Just because you haven’t seen the poll doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There was a poll yesterday that came out through…that had me at 17%.

HH: Okay, so 17%. You’re still 17…you have to double it.

CD: And I need, I only, in a tight race, I need to get to probably 34%, somewhere in there.

HH: Yeah, and…

CD: And this is a very volatile, a political climate where the support for both Jon Corzine and Chris Christie is very soft. Most of the vote is against one or the other. So I’m…

HH: Chris Daggett, is there one major pundit in America that thinks you can win? One?

CD: Pardon me?

HH: Is there one major political observer in New Jersey or New York or Connecticut or Pennsylvania or the national media who has said in print that you can win? One?

CD: Well, you know, I haven’t read all the stuff across the country.

HH: Oh, come on, Chris.

CD: Well, you know, I mean, it’s your opinion versus mine.

HH: No, I’m asking you to tell me. Who thinks you can win except your mom?

CD: I do, and a lot of people who support me do, and a lot of people that are going to vote for me think I can win.

HH: Who has written that down?

CD: Pardon me?

HH: Who has put that…which objective political observer has written that down anywhere?

CD: It’s four weeks out. Let’s see what happens. Why don’t we see what happens.

HH: Well, people start to vote.

CD: I’m not, I don’t live my life by so-called objective political observers, because frankly, most political observers that I run into aren’t very objective.

HH: Are they corrupt?

CD: They have an axe to grind either on the conservative Republican side or the liberal Democratic side, or whatever it happens to be. But they clearly aren’t objective.

HH: Is that corrupt? Chris Daggett, is that corrupt, or merely inappropriate?

CD: Pardon me?

HH: Is a projecting that you can’t win corrupt, inappropriate, or is it just someone doing their job?

CD: No, it’s none of the above. It’s wrong. It’s their opinion, it’s a person’s opinions versus my opinion, and the opinion of many of my supporters who are working day and night to prove that your assumption is wrong.

HH: All right, Chris Daggett, come back next week, we’ll talk to you again. Every week, once a week, I’ll be happy to, because frankly, you cannot win, and I cannot understand…

CD: I’m sorry, but I disagree with you.

HH: I know you do, but I just don’t want to con the voters of New Jersey. On this show, truth matters. Corzine can win, Christie can win, you can’t win.

End of interview.

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