It happened so quickly and so quietly that I wasn’t sure exactly what transpired, but it appears that the Chris Christie era in New Jersey is over!
Yes, I know we have to officially endure the Governor until January of 2018, but most of that time will find him drowned out by the presidential race, and by the time that’s over it will be time for candidates to begin announcing their intentions ahead of the June 2017 gubernatorial primaries.
Chris Christie was the main architect of his own downfall, though of course he will blame everyone except himself for his not still competing for president or the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal that has his style written all over it. He banked on being the rude loudmouth in the 2016 race but it turns out that he’s only a piker compared to Donald Trump, Christie’s take-down of Marco Rubio showed that he could use the bully part of the bully pulpit, something that New Jerseyans always knew, but that the rest of the country had to actually see to believe.
The capstone to Christie’s fall, though, was his very quick and very ugly endorsement of Trump not three days after leaving the GOP race. The way he looked standing behind the Donald will be an enduring, iconic image for approximately the next thousand years and will serve as a warning against candidates making major decisions while still in the throes of Stages 1,2,3 and 4 of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s continuum of the terminally ill.
And his move to Stage 5, acceptance, came last week when Christie didn’t just blink, he all but sent a message that he was going through political torture at the hands of NJ Senate Majority Leader Steve Sweeney and the rest of the Democrats, when he appointed a Democrat to the State Supreme Court, ending six year political battle by, well, giving up (although the new nominee is evidently a financial backer).
All was not terrible for Chris Christie, though. He was able to use political cronies of both parties to get a state employee pension and benefit reform package through the legislature that has contributed to a four-year reduction in take home pay for a significant slice of New Jersey’s middle class. And he can also point to the fact that he didn’t ask the wealthy to contribute more to solve some of New Jersey’s problems, arguing that they would leave the state. Meanwhile, less-than-wealthy people have left the state because they couldn’t afford to live here.
And then of course there’s that confounded bridge.
Chris Christie will go down in history as a failed governor because he wasted his political capital on his White House bid, when he could have done much more and run in, say, 2020 with a fuller record of accomplishments. He has, though, paved the way for a Democratic sweep in 2017. Bank on that.