Exposing Chinks in Christie’s Armor

Two interview-based pieces in this weekend’s newspapers – by Jenna Portnoy and Melissa Hayes – give us an idea of what’s currently on Gov. Christie’s political mind and insights into priorities he might lay out on Tuesday in his annual State of the State message.  Regarding the former, about his upcoming gubernatorial race, he blusters, he won’t be satisfied unless he trounces the opposition by a bigger margin than any Republican in a generation. His priorities include Sandy recovery, signing a tax cut, reducing spending, eliminating payouts to public employees for unused sick time, and preventing towns and school districts from circumventing the 2 percent cap on local tax increases. He states Sandy recovery is a top priority, but he remains faithful to shrinking state government by reducing taxes and spending – an approach that will not stimulate our economy, preserve a safety net, nor meet the needs of a hurricane-battered state.

He has every reason to be cocky about his re-election prospects, and if the voting took place next week he would win in a landslide. However, the election is still 11 months away and a lot can happen by then. Below are matters that can expose his vulnerabilities.

  •  Sandy Reconstruction – Christie made Sandy his issue. We will see by summer and fall how his efforts pan out. He can thank Obama, excoriate Boehner, and act in a commanding way, but getting back to pre-Sandy will take longer than expected and may well leave New Jerseyans less than satisfied.

  • Budget –  He proposes the budget, sets the anticipated revenue level, and like most governors gets most of what he wants. In this year he will have to deal with two budgets and the pitfalls they entail. In the weekend articles he seems optimistic that he might not have to reduce the current budget, but with a revenue hole before Sandy, poor results in November and pessimistic projections from OLS, he is only having a pipe dream. And it will be an outright nightmare in next year’s budget when he has to include  large additional mandated outlays, including to the pension fund. There will have to be cuts, and the degree to which they appear unfair to the poor and the middle class will dictate how Democrats and moderates view his electability.

  •  Economy – After four years in office he owns the economy. Even before the hurricane economic growth was paltry and unemployment way high. He will be measured not only by data in our state but also by comparison data with the U.S. as a whole and our neighboring states. He will be found wanting.
  •  Social issues – For progressives he will continue a disappointment on a host of matters ranging from women’s health to marriage equality to Supreme Court nominations. However, he does not care about our concerns nor count on our support.

    The first three issues above play to a particularly broad audience and will reduce his job approval level and expose chinks in his armor. By taking such a strong position on matters that may not turn out so well, Christie might be hoisting himself by his own petard. Nonetheless, I’m sure that Blue Jersey bloggers and many others will expose those armor chinks with relish.  

  • Comments (3)

    1. ConnectingDots

      He’s reading too much of his national press, forgetting that R’s don’t win landslides in statewide NJ races. (A lot has changed since the Kean-Shapiro race and I don’t recall Kean relishing the divisive game plan the way this Governor does…)

      So when he sets out looking for the really big win and maybe just narrowly pulls it out, that national press will focus on the chinks even more.

    2. A New Jersey Farmer

      Kean was a statesman and a genuinely nice guy. If you have to prop up Christie as Fran Wood did in the Ledger today by saying that he’s “our bully” then you got problems with what actually makes a successful politician these days.

    3. work witch

      You’re so right. He is the great distractor! My take on the Boehner bashing …  workwitch.blogspot.com  


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