Today Gov. Christie is probably putting the finishing touches (after a massive rewrite?) of tomorrow’s State of the State Address. In the opening comments of last year’s address he said, “Just three months ago, we were proceeding normally with our lives … Then Sandy hit.” His entire speech was about Sandy, the indomitable spirit of New Jerseyans, what his administration was doing about it, and how he was leading the way.
Tomorrow I doubt he will say, “Just four months ago we were proceeding normally with our lives … Then Bridgegate hit.” It is unlikely his entire speech will be about lane closures and the subsequent cover up. Christie has to be extremely careful about what he says as another 1,000 pages of e-mails will soon be released and Transportation Committee Chair John Wisniewski has said he is about to release document and appearance subpoenas to former Campaign Manager Bill Stepien and former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly. New Jerseyans may have an indomitable spirit but they are being sorely tested by the revelations of nasty politics at play.
Hopefully Christie will tell us what his administration is doing about this callous abuse of power and how he is leading the way. In his press conference on Thursday he said, “I’m not completed with those interviews yet, but when I am, if there is additional information that needs to be disclosed, I will do so.” Beyond the four close associates who have already lost their jobs, there are six other inner circle Christie colleagues who received Bridgegate e-mails at different points and could be complicit in a cover up (or of providing Christie with knowledge, before or during the lane closings, which he has denied). They are David Samson, Michael Drewniak, Charles McKenna, Maria Comella, Regina Egea, and Christina Renna. Chief of Staff Kevin O’Dowd, who has not been mentioned in the emails, served as Bridget Anne Kelly’s boss and hence seems either complicit or incompetent.
Regardless of what Christie says tomorrow he also stated during the Thursday press conference, “My promise to the people of the state is that if there’s any other evidence that comes forward that requires action to be taken, I will take it.” Let’s remember that statement and hold him to it.
In the State of the State speech he will undoubtedly pat himself on the back regarding Sandy and jobs, neither of which is as rosy as he might portray it. He continues to seek tax reduction. He staunchly wants to “ensure each and every child receives the quality education they deserve,” which means more vouchers and charter schools. He might rail against the New Jersey Supreme Court and blather about reducing the size of government.
Christie can be full of surprises so tomorrow he might try to divert attention away from Bridgegate toward some new media-worthy proposal. He has built up a brand (himself) and he he will try to burnish it. He also knows his speech will garner national attention. While he addresses concerns about New Jersey he will continue to promote himself as the ideal Republican candidate for the presidency. Not an easy task now.
Today: Both the Senate and Assembly hold voting sessions with some 60 bills on each agenda. The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider seven Superior Court judge nominations including that of Robert Hanna, head of the BPU and previous nominee for the Supreme Court. Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee will consider a revised bill making changes to Jersey City’s pension fund. For more information go HERE. Tomorrow both the Senate and Assembly hold their reorganization meetings, and the 215th Legislature Second Annual Session becomes history.