Is Chris Christie Pandering to the Moderates?

Every action that Chris Christie takes is filtered through the lens of his political ambition.  Whether it’s his stance on hot-button issues like gun safety and marriage equality, or his top-caliber cadre of social media propagandists, the governor has one goal in mind – 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Some of his recent actions may indicate that he’s given up pandering to the extreme wing of his party and is hoping that the dying breed of moderate Republicans may come out victorious among the dozen or so contenders for the nomination.

A few days ago, Christie surprised us (and probably his dirty energy backers) by announcing that he thought global climate change might be man-made. And on Friday, his Department of Environmental Protection stepped in to a controversy about destroying hundreds of acres of forestland in the Six Flags Amusement Park to install solar panels. The DEP made an offer to purchase the land from Six Flags in order to save the trees.

Of course, these two actions in isolation don’t make Christie a moderate. He’s still in favor of draconian cuts in Social Security and has shown no empathy for state workers whose deferred compensation is being stolen to balance the budget.

By acknowledging the role that environmental protection pays in the life of the planet and its citizens, Christie is bound to anger many of the ardent science deniers that dominate his party and his donors. Maybe he sees his born-again moderate stance as the only realistic path to the Presidency.

Time will tell. Senator Sweeney has re-introduced a fair-share tax surcharge for millionaires. Will Christie veto it once again, or will he “evolve” to realize that while the millionaires tax is not a panacea, it is absolutely necessary for New Jersey. How will Christie act when the New Jersey Supreme Court rules on pension payments? Will he react bombastically and irrationally as he has done before, or will he act presidential and state that the courts have ruled and that he will work with the legislature to find an equitable solution?

If Christie acts like Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, he is sure to lose the nomination. After all, the more extreme members of the GOP delegation would vote for the real thing over (in their eyes) a phony RINO from a blue state.

Christie’s actions as governor over the next few weeks will tell us if his strategy to grasp the nomination has changed. And even though he’s a phony, it may be the best thing for New Jersey that has happened in a disastrous administration.

Comments (6)

  1. Bill Orr

    to the primary for Christie is best as a “moderate,” particularly because in some early primaries he can not defeat evangelical, Tea Party, and other far-right Republicans. Jeb Bush controls that moderate path now with fistfuls of cash. Both Christie and Bush have baggage weighing them down. Christie keeps trying to walk a tightrope of conservative but not too conservative or moderate but not too moderate – all of which puts him in peril of falling. As whatever he does in NJ is now through a primary election calculus, let’s hope he gives up that quest. Then at least presidential politics don’t drive his agenda.  

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  2. JeffO Teaneck

    I don’t know how different Christie’s recent statement on climate change is from some supposedly farther-right Republicans like Marco Rubio, who has acknowledged that there’s climate change but adheres to a convenient agnosticism on whether it’s “man-made.” Christie may have inched a little into recognizing that human activity has something to do with it, but has said the extent to which it has caused or contributes to the problem needs “further study.” How much further study and for how long before public policies actually address the problem, he doesn’t say. So not to worry, Exxon, keep those contributions coming to the guy who got you a sweet settlement on NJ’s $8.9 billion lawsuit.

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  3. JeffO Teaneck

    I hadn’t heard about it until now, but it’s certainly sounds like an interesting conundrum for proponents of clean energy. And for Christie, it’s a great way to come across as a tree-friendly “environmentalist” while scotching what might have been a huge shot-in-the-arm for the competitors of dirty energy.  

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  4. marshwren

    primaries since 1968, and find Christie is running one of the most unfocused, scatter-shot, issue-inconsistent campaigns ever (even worse than Juli Ruidani’s 2008 effort).  And beyond that, he’s prone to making pandering statements he almost immediately has to walk back.

    There are two reasons for this:  right now, he isn’t pitching his candidacy to voters, but donors, and tailors his opinions according to which plutocrat and/or special interest will give him the most for mimicking the donor’s agenda or complaints.  The other is a near-total lack of holding any with a modicum of sincerity.

    Thus he’s saddled himself with the worst of both worlds:  pandering to the loony-tune base alienates the moderates without converting the loons.  Trying to sound moderate alienates the loons without convincing the moderates.  Overlay that with his self-obsessed malignant narcissism, obnoxious personality, entitlement mentality and anger management problems, his illusions of grandeur and delusions of adequacy, plus a record as governor as criminal and corrupt as it is incompetent, and it’s no wonder his polls keep dropping.

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  5. Tom Paine

    This is the result of following the news and the press releases instead of following the policy.

    Chrisite has a robust record, after 5 years, on the environment, as does DEP Commissioner Martin.

    That records NOT moderate.

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  6. Bob h

    is that Republican leaders and paymasters come to the realization that their field of candidates is bat*&(* crazy.  Christie is not crazy.

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