As interested observer pointed out yesterday, Christie’s governorship relies on frequent distraction. And it really relies on distraction in this budget season, with a proposed tax cut for millionaires that can only be funded by ignoring the real revenue projections and, now, massive borrowing to fund transportation projects. Christie is on his way to making Christine Todd Whitman and Jim McGreevey look like masters of fiscal restraint.
Does this signify that Christie isn’t running for re-election in 2013? Here’s the storyline: Christie declares “mission accomplished” and bows out. The next Governor (likely a Democrat) is left to deal with the bill that comes due and Christie’s minions and Christie himself spin it as his or her fault for not following the Christie course. Meanwhile, Christie runs a morning show on Fox News and prepares to run in 2016.
What’s the alternative? The bill might not come due soon enough to hurt Christie in 2013. But there’s a real risk that it becomes a total mess soon after – and one he can’t spin away on the Democrats in the Legislature, while unemployment in NJ remains higher than surrounding states and the Governor’s big money in Xanadu goes bust. Even conservative columnists start turning on Christie.
Of course, it doesn’t necessarily have to happen that way. But there’s significant risk there. Maybe enough so that Christie doesn’t run for re-election.
It’s all speculation at this point – and we probably won’t really know anything until after November. And I could very easily see Christie gambling on a triumphant second term buoyed by a national economic comeback that helps fill the budget holes. We shall see.