An art teacher who rocketed to YouTube stardom after she questioned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) during a 2010 town hall meeting won a Democratic primary for a state legislative seat Tuesday in a competitive district.
Marie Corfield, an art teacher from Flemington, defeated Princeton Deputy Mayor Sue Nemeth for the Democratic nod in a state Assembly special election in a central New Jersey district, the Star-Ledger reports. This is Corfield's second race for the Assembly, following a narrow defeat in the same district in 2011. Corfield will face off against Assemblywoman Donna Simon (R-Hunterdon County) who was appointed to the seat after the death of Assemblyman Pete Biondi (R-Somerset County). The race is for the remaining year on Biondi's rem.
Corfield gained fame in September 2010 when she questioned Christie over the impact of his education cuts during a town hall meeting. Corfield argued during the town hall that Christie was cutting vital services to schools and unfairly attacking teachers. Christie said that his education spending cuts were needed to plug a budget hole caused by former Gov. Jon Corzine (D) and that he was not attacking teachers, but rather the teachers' union leadership.
Both Christie and Corfield have used their encounter to make political hay, with the governor posting the video on his state YouTube account. Corfield has discussed the video with the media in part to define her position as a vocal Christie opponent, including during appearances on "The Ed Show," Fox News and political radio shows.
She narrowly lost as a Democrat in 2011 to Biondi and Assemblyman Jack Ciattatelli (R) for the two seats in the district which includes parts of Hunterdon, Mercer, Somerset and Middlesex Counties. Simon was appointed to fill Biondi's seat until November when a special election must be held for the rest of the term.
The district is viewed as the most competitive of the three Assembly special elections occurring in New Jersey this year. Assemblywoman Betty Lou DeCroce (R-Morris County) and Assemblywoman Gabrielle Mosquera (D-Gloucester County) are viewed as frontrunners in their districts. Corfield was backed in her primary by Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex County) and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen County).
Clarification: This story has been edited to reflect that, while the video itself has not been promoted by Corfield's campaign, the encounter with Christie in the video has been a frequent topic of conversation in her interviews with the media.