And you probably thought that Chris Christie had appointed himself governor-for-life. Of course, I wouldn’t put it past him, but his approval ratings are even lower than Trump’s, so he’ll need to leave next January. And with all the fun and excitement going on in DC these days, I can’t really blame you if you haven’t been paying attention to the upcoming election here in the Garden State. The primary is on June 6, though, so it’s time to wake up.
Remember that just last year at this time we were considering the idea that Governor Christie might be the Republican vice-presidential nominee or some other important appointment in case (never happen) Donald Trump got elected president (shudder). Now the governor is scuffling toward the exit with little more than a final-year push to address opioid addiction. You know, the kind of help that people desperately need but that won’t necessarily be covered in a Trumpcare health plan. It’s a remarkable fall for such a large personality and for someone who craves the attention, affirmation and fealty from those around him.
As usual, though, there is no shortage of contenders, And the Republicans and Democrats do differ sharply on the issues. Christie’s Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guagdano, has the unenviable task of hoisting the successor’s flag, all the while running away from Christie and towards Trump. Sort of. Guadagno can’t run as an outsider because she’s been an insider for 8 years, and over that time she really hasn’t made much of a public impact. On the Democratic side, the race will likely come down to one between Phil Murphy and John Wisniewski, although Jim Johnson was impressive in the debate earlier this month.
The big issues are property taxes, which continue to increase despite Christie’s cap on municipal spending, and the increasing difficulty of getting from one place to another in the state dues to a crisis in infrastructure. All of the candidates are suggesting that the school aid formula needs to be addressed, with the Republicans saying that public workers need to pay more for their health insurance benefits and that schools in the suburbs should get more state aid at the expense of urban districts. The Democrats, especially Murphy, are trying to protect benefits, and all of them support cleaner energy and higher taxes on high earners. The Democrats also favor legalizing marijuana and taxing it to get more money for the state.
The most immediate need, though is money to improve the state’s roads and rails because both systems are at their breaking points. Traffic in the Garden State has always been terrible, but road repairs are needed to keep what’s moving moving. The trains are going to be a nightmare this summer as Amtrak shuts down tracks in New York’s Penn Station after the derailments of the last few months. This will cost billions and will remind people that Christie vetoed the plan for a new tunnel to Manhattan early in his term because, as a potential national Republican candidate, he couldn’t be seen as raising taxes or spending on anything that’s necessary.
The train problem is also likely to make the car problem worse because people still need to get to work, so they’ll get into their cars if mass transit is spotty. And it will be. The other answer is to take the bus, but that would mean more buses, more gridlock and more traffic. It doesn’t look as though federal help will be arriving anytime soon as health care, taxes and defending oneself against legal attacks will be keeping Washington busy until at least the beginning of next year.
As for the schools and property taxes, the divide in New Jersey pretty much mirrors the divide in Washington. The Republicans want more money for school choice programs and Charter Schools, and they want public workers to pay more for their pensions and benefits because, well, they have better benefits than everyone else. Of course, the real benefit would be to get every worker the type of benefits that public workers have, rather than taking a livable retirement away from them. But you know Republicans; they think that unions are destructive and that management knows best.
Of course, Democrats were not much better, especially those who sided with Christie in the benefits reform bill of 2011 which resulted in a massive reduction in take-home pay for public workers who were already employed when the bill was passed. This is a main reason why middle class recovery has been slower in New Jersey than in other states. The Democratic candidates running now say they will protect worker’s benefits and improve the pension system, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
New Jersey should be a Democratic pickup come the fall, but I’ll also hedge that bet a little until I see who wins the primaries.
Get out and vote on June 6.
Chris Christie will go down in New Jersey history as one of the most unpopular, least effective, self-serving governors this state has ever had. And given our history, that’s saying a lot. But for someone with the political skills he has and the ability to connect with everyday people, having a 17% approval rating is shocking. He spent all of his political capital on Hurricane Sandy and thought that he would be the big mouth with the righteous anger in 2016, but that didn’t work out either.
And now he seems to have disappeared. OK, not entirely. He is spending his last few months highlighting the problems of drug addiction and is stumping for more money for treatment programs, but otherwise, he doesn’t have much else. His school spending plan is pretty much dead on arrival and Trump has taken all of the available space and oxygen in the politician realm. Christie was passed over for a cabinet position, but I can see him taking over after one of Trump’s originals flames out, which will happen sooner rather than later. Heck, if Christie can hang on, he could become VP if Trump does something high-crimish or misdemeanorlike in the next two years, which is also looking somewhat possible given that he can’t stand criticism and thinks that everything that goes against his family is unfair.
Even Christie’s Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guagdano, is fleeing Trenton and is running to succeed her boss. It will be interesting to see how she’s going to separate herself from him since we didn’t see much of her leadership style for, well, eight years. And that includes the time when the state got smacked with a blizzard when Christie was on vacation and Guagdano was the acting Governor. Not a peep. And the state ground to a halt. Talk about laissez-faire.
The Democrats are in much better shape in this state than nationally, but they are still going to have to round up votes in the traditionally Democratic urban and suburban areas. Right now Phil Murphy is the front-runner and has already been endorsed by party bigwigs and some unions. John Wisniewski is also running and he actually has state-level governing experience as a member of the State Assembly for the past 20 years. He’s trying to run as an outsider, but if Trump is any guide to how an outsider runs a government, Wisniewski might want to run as the trusted, sure hand who can actually govern.
But this is all for the future as we’re in the money-grubbing phase of the election until springtime, and the primaries aren’t until June. Another election. Fun.
Somebody is lying. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has maintained that he knew nothing of the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, lane closures carried out by his closest administration officials. But testimony after testimony cast more and more doubt on Christie’s claim.
In bombshell testimony Friday, Bridget Anne Kelly said that she told New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) that access lanes to the George Washington Bridge would be closed for a traffic study a month before the plan actually was carried out in September 2013.
The former deputy chief of staff testified that the governor approved the study, which prosecutors allege actually was cover-up for a revenge plot against a local Democratic mayor.
Christie has long maintained that he knew nothing about the lane closures that brought traffic in the town of Fort Lee, New Jersey to a days-long standstill until he read about them in the press in late September or early October 2013. Yet Kelly and other former Christie allies have contradicted what Christie’s said about what he knew of the lane closures and when throughout the federal trial investigating the so-called Bridgegate scheme.
Telling her version of the saga for the first time from the witness stand Friday, Kelly testified that former Port Authority official David Wildstein informed her on Aug. 12, 2013 that he was moving forward with a traffic study that he said would create major traffic problems in Fort Lee, according to WABC. Kelly testified she then informed Christie about the study, and alleged he said he was alright with it.
“He said, ‘All right.’ He didn’t really react. He said that’s fine. He said, ‘How is the relationship with Mayor Sokolich’ of Fort Lee?” Kelly testified, according to Philly.com. “And I didn’t know. I really didn’t know.”
The next day she sent the email that would cast a shadow over Christie’s administration for years to come: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” she wrote to Wildstein.
Can you believe it? Just like you I am totally shocked that Chris Christie found something disgusting about Donald Trump.
The former Republican presidential candidate stood with Trump through thick and thin, even getting ridiculed by many for his undying support of Trump’s foolish positions.
But Christie drew the line after hearing the things Trump had to say in the infamous 2005 tape, where Trump condoned grabbing women by their genitalia and trying to have sex with a married woman.
Christie called Trump’s comment, “completely indefensible.”
“Appearing on WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton,” the governor told Craig Carton that the 2005 video of Trump is “completely indefensible and I won’t and haven’t defended it.”
Christie also said that Trump’s apology was inadequate.
“He should have been much more direct and focused on just saying sorry and only saying sorry,” said Christie. “When you’re going to make an apology like that, you need to be focused on it (alone.)”
Christie, a father of four, also said he wondered if Ttump was the right person for the job of President.”You certainly have to think about it,” Christie said.
Christie admitted that explaining Trump’s remarks to his children was “the hardest thing.” He said tryimg to find an explanation got “a little tough.”
Even with that though, Christie still endorses the Republican nominee. Go figure.
Don’t you just love politics and politicians? Here’s a group of people who seemingly do not ever consider that what they say about their opponents will even happen to them. And yet…
This week’s ridiculousness comes, not surprisingly, from the Trump-Christie branch of what used to be one of America’s great political parties; the GOP. These days it’s difficult to see how they were able to elect George W. Bush, much less get through a week without one of their candidates self-destructing.
The once-and-never-again national candidate, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is on even thinner ice (consider that image) concerning the traffic jam at the George Washington Bridge that not only killed his presidential chances, but is also resulting in crater-like approval numbers across the state. Now we have some evidence that Christie “flat-out lied” when he said that his political team knew nothing of the bridge closure. He’s denying it of course, and I can’t see that this would lead his leash holder, Donald Trump, to dump him as his transition boss since at this point it looks like Trump’s transition might be to a different floor on Trump Tower, as opposed to a move-in at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The bigger issue, though, is that it was a during Christie’s speech at the Republican Convention that the crowd chanted that Hillary Clinton should be locked up for, well, unspecified crimes against, um, someone. Now Christie has leapt the queue and is looking more likely to be the one facing an actual indictment. Not that I expect one, but still. Christie has no one to blame but himself after endorsing Trump and tying his political future to a man who, at best, will lose the presidency for himself and the Senate for his party. Christie’s fall is a monumental one, and after November he will be the lamest duck in the land as the Democrats jostle to pick someone to replace him.
In the meantime, the road projects are still stalled, NJ Transit still has one train track in and out of Manhattan, the public employee pension system is still massively underfunded, property taxes are sky high, and social services are lagging. Yet Christie still finds time to campaign for a candidate who accused Christie of knowing about the bridge closure and who Christie hopes will save him from a life of retired bliss in…Mendham. A nice town, to be sure, but certainly not where Chris thought he should be.
Outside the state, Donald Trump is mystifying the political press with his antics, which include saying that president Obama and Hillary Clinton founded ISIS, then saying, as most ignorant people do, that he was just being sarcastic, questioning the need to get his supporters out to vote in November, saying again that the only way Clinton can win, this time in Pennsylvania, is by cheating, and by traveling to those hotbed competitive states, Maine and Connecticut instead of, say, Ohio or Florida where Trump absolutely must win in order to be elected (shudder).
If anything, these two gentlemen deserve each other, and it looks like they’ll destroy each other in the process.
In case you missed it, Donald Trump had a terrible week that saw any lead he had after the GOP Convention in Cleveland completely evaporate in a climate-changing blast of heat and parch. Not only did he dive into the empty pool of stereotype, anti-Islamic rhetoric and sexism, he ended the week by questioning the sanity and mental awareness of Hillary Clinton. She’s gone from being corrupt to evil and unhinged in his eyes. It is certainly true that Hillary has spent a great deal of her campaign time attacking Trump for being unfit to be president, but when he acts the way he did last week, she has a point. If that’s the way he’s going to react after a political attack from the Khans, then how will he react when things go badly if (shudder) he wins the White House?
Republicans are running away from Trump in larger numbers than those he might have gained from disaffected Democrats, and his late week endorsement of Paul Ryan and John McCain’s primary fights came far too late to be seen as sincere. And to think we’ve been told that Trump is a different person in private. Would it kill him to show us that side?
I don’t have evidence, which is what makes personal blogging such a joy, but I can’t help but think that Chris Christie, the now-popularly-challenged (30% approval) governor of New Jersey, is failing in his attempts to influence the Republican standard-bearer. Christie was done in because of texts and emails related to the GW Bridge scandal, and Trump’s tweets seem to be having the same effects on his campaign. But where Christie acts like a politician, Trump defies convention. If Christie is supposed to be running Trump’s transition team, he’s either not doing a very good job or, more likely, is having little effect on Trump’s sense that he really needs to start focusing on Clinton’s weaknesses in a coherent fashion.
Of course, having someone who’s broadly disliked advising another person who’s broadly disliked is not a recipe for success. Yes, Hillary also suffers from underwater favorability, but that’s changing, if this new ABC news poll is any indication. We’re still in Hillary’s convention bounce window, so let’s see what’s happening with the polls once the Olympics are finished.
In the meantime, letting Donald be Donald doesn’t seem to be a winning strategy.
I sort of forgot that Chris Christie was still the Governor of New Jersey and an active politician until this week, so quiet was he on policy and bombast.
But now he’s back.
His first foray was to emerge with a set of checks made out to suburban school district students for $6,599 each. This was his way of solving the school funding problem that has vexed governors for the better part of 40 years. Christie’s solution was, in essence, to tell the students who live in New Jersey’s cities to either go to a Charter School, move, get different parents, or suck it up and try to learn in a class with 34 other students because Christie’s plan would mean a bunch of school closures.
To the suburban districts, the message was much less harsh: Your property taxes will go down and you can continue to have fine schools. What I really like is that the amount of aid isn’t a round number. In fact, I think if Christie had consulted Donald Trump, the price would have been $6,599.99. The pennies add so much class.
And speaking of Christie and Trump, the other information that emerged this week is that the Governor is being vetted for the Vice-Presidency. Yes, I’m still scared of ISIS, but this potential pairing comes in a close second (and tied, by the way, with the thought of Newt Gingrich being VP). Christie has evidently been giving Trump political advice ahead of the GOP’s Cleveland Convention, weighing in on the recent firing of Trump’s campaign manager and moderating Trump’s speeches so they include more substance and less invective. OK, that last one isn’t working out too well, but Christie is taking his job as manager of Trump’s transition very seriously.
Which brings us to this weekend’s crisis in New Jersey over the Transportation Trust Fund which, I am told, is out of money because the Legislature hasn’t raised the gas tax to fund it. Of course, it’s really Christie’s problem because instead of agreeing to the gas tax increase in return for an end to the inheritance tax, which Christie has been running on forever, he tried to make a different deal to agree to the gas tax, but lower the sales tax by 1%. That would create a huge hole in the state budget. When the state Senate balked at the deal (both Republicans and Democrats opposed it), Christie threatened to shut down road projects over the weekend. Which would throw a bunch of people out of work. And seriously compromise driver safety. And make him less popular than he already is.
In years past, even though I didn’t agree with much of what the Republican politicians wanted to do, I could at least see their arguments and follow their thinking. Not this year. The party’s done blowed itself up. And Chris Christie has his hand on the dynamite plunger.