About two weeks before the legislative elections, Chris Christie thought he had found the issue that would lead him to “make history” in reducing the Democratic majority.
Judge Linda Feinberg struck down the part of pen/ben applying to judges. And Christie pounced.
He held a rally with fifty Republican legislators and candidates at Trenton’s War Memorial. Christie threw down the gauntlet.
“Which side are Democratic lawmakers and candidates on? New Jerseyans deserve to know whether they stand with public employees and taxpayers or the privileged 432 (judges).”
Derek Roseman, one of the state’s key Democratic strategists, responded:
“As if on cue, New Jersey’s Republicans have called their biennial pre-election confab to pledge their unwavering support for an issue that doesn’t register with the people they are seeking to represent,” Roseman said. “Perhaps our opponents’ time would be better spent walking their districts and actually talking to voters, as opposed to driving to Trenton for photo-ops with their party leaders. If they did, they’d know, like Democrats do, that voters care about their property taxes, their jobs, and the fact that the Republicans who are spending today fawning all over each other care more about giving millionaires special treatment than they do funding schools, ensuring women’s access to health care, or even providing real property tax relief to middle-class families and seniors.”
What happened next – below the fold.
Now the election results are in and… well… it wasn’t exactly a killer issue, with Christie losing every single swing race.
I remember thinking that this was kind of a weird issue – along the line of Roseman’s quote. Who really cares? But I figured that Christie, the mega-strategist, had to have some polling showing that this was actually something that really resonated with people. It didn’t really resonate with me or the people that I know (who tend to focus more on jobs, taxes, and schools). But who knows – maybe in the far corners of some key swing district there are a lot of people who get really fired up about judge-haters.
Turns out the emperor, in this case, had no clothes. And it’s not the first time. According to this analysis, going after activist judges is a loser of a campaign issue. The words mean different things to different people, and, fascinatingly, both liberals and conservatives WANT activist judges (as epitomized by the activist conservatives who want the Supreme Court to strike down the federal health care law). So a campaign against “activist judges” doesn’t really hit home for either party.
How could Christie have been so far off the mark? Perhaps he’s been spending too much time in the national right-wing echo chamber, which loves these kinds of issues. Perhaps he has nothing to say about his lousy jobs record.
But, hey, in case you’re wondering about when that “activist judge” issue might come again – apparently Joe Kyrillos is planning to run for U.S. Senate on it. And Christie shows no signs of letting up, bizarrely targeting the Supreme Court for trying to decide the pen/ben issue too quickly.
I guess deciding cases SLOWLY is the next thing that Christie thinks will resonate with the public?
Good luck with that one.