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.