Donald Lambro

To give you an idea of the state's turbulent political environment under Corzine's soak-the-taxpayers governorship, when Quinnipiac asked "How satisfied are you with the way things are going in New Jersey today?" only 3 percent said "very satisfied," while nearly 70 percent said "dissatisfied."

While the level of complaints on the issues can vary widely from state to state, New Jersey's property tax revolt mirrors complaints in other states where it is a looming though underreported issue -- including Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

For Corzine, who won the governorship last year on a promise to enact property tax relief, his inaction thus far, followed by his sales-tax hike, has turned much of New Jersey's heavily Democratic electorate against him.

Only 39 percent of voters approve of the overall job he is doing, and 70 percent say they now do not believe he will reduce property taxes as he pledged in his campaign.

"For two years now, we've been polling on this issue and found New Jersey's voters consider property taxes the worst tax of all, and time and again they have been promised relief and nothing has happened," Richards told me.

Corzine's tax troubles recalled the experiences of another New Jersey Democrat, Gov. James Florio, whose $2.8 billion tax hike in 1990 led to his defeat in 1993 at the hands of Republican Christine Todd Whitman.

Corzine won't be up for re-election until 2009, but New Jersey voters can send him a message in November by rejecting Menendez and putting Kean in the Senate. A little more than four months before the election, polls show a close race -- a sign that the tax issue is playing in the GOP's favor.

Meanwhile, Hastert's plan to hold field hearings around the country on the widely differing House and Senate-passed immigration bills is nothing more than a delaying tactic to avoid any further votes on this issue until after the midterm elections.

House Republicans have staked their ground on border enforcement only, one that leaves their party's base happy and keeps the Senate's broader guest worker/earned amnesty bill at bay. No one in the House GOP's leadership wants to risk angering its conservative base in a volatile election year by seeking a compromise with the Senate that now seems impossible to achieve anyway.

Better, say Republican leaders, to put the immigration reform issue off until next year when the elections are safely behind them.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.