New Jerseyans are paying a lot of attention to whether Christie will run or not, resign or not, win the primary or not, and win the presidency or not. Like a sports season there are plenty of variables and much excitement. The possibility of a second New Jersey governor as U. S. President whets our appetite. A resignation could be imminent, prolonged, or never happen, and Christie could successfully win the race or drop out along the way.
Currently we are being left in the lurch by a governor who spends little time governing and who is losing respect of the governed. Key decisions including pension reform, financing our transportation trust fund, strengthening our economy, helping Atlantic County, and reforming the NY/NJ Port Authority are being delayed. Today’s Eagleton/Rutgers poll shows how low the approval level is of the job Christie is doing: Economy/Jobs: 35%, Taxes: 31%, Education/schools: 42%, Sandy Recovery: 53%, Crime/Drugs: 46%, State Budget: 32%, and State Pension Fund Situation: 24%.
New Jersey is stuck with huge problems now and may have a new governor as soon as next year. In an ideal world this is what should be happening:
Christie should buckle down to the job he is being paid for and implement sound policies. It appears however his attention span and policy decisions will be dictated by the presidential race.
With the possibility next year of Christie resigning and there being a special election, it is not too soon for gubernatorial candidates to announce their interest and stake out their positions on key issues. Senator Steve Sweeney appears to be a candidate, and as Senate President his views on many issues are known. Phil Murphy, former Goldman Sachs executive and U.S. Ambassador to Germany, and Steve Fulop, Jersey City Mayor, appear active and have been talked about, but less is known about their platforms. Others Democrats who want to be in the mix should not be shy.
Presumably Republican Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno is interested, and even if she is not, she would assume the mantle at least temporarily. She is given a short leash by her boss, but she should come out from under his shadow. Other would-be Republican contenders should also let the electorate know of their interest and where they stand.
So potential candidates ideally should announce early and explain their positions. Each candidate, however, has his or her own strategies and what might be ideal for voters is not necessarily what candidates do.
Of course maybe Christie will decide not to run and will complete his term of office. In such an event there is no guarantee of better performance, but at least he will have more time to work on N. J. issues. Also potential successors will have more time to lay our their positions.
In the meantime it might be helpful if the NJ press and electorate focused more on our current and future governance and less on “will he or won’t he” which often looks like a survivor type reality TV show.