By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog
Back in 2010, when things in Christie world were looking bright and promising, The National Review congratulated the new governor on its cover for “winning the battle of New Jersey.”
My, how times change.
On Wednesday, Politico reported that the preeminent conservative publication founded by William F. Buckley in 1955 would go hammer-and-tong after Governor Christie in its next edition for failing to revitalize New Jersey’s economy. The story itself is a guest piece from City Journal contributing editor Steven Malanga, a familiar name to Garden State news consumers. The headline, scrawled across a cartoonish depiction of the former RGA chief sinking in the Delaware River dressed as George Washington, is “Chris Christie’s New Jersey problem.”
I can’t argue with the title, Save Jerseyans, even if we can debate the full extent to which the Governor is to blame for failing to transform Trenton.
“[S]ince winning reelection easily in 2013, Christie has watched his reputation tumble both in New Jersey and nationwide,” Malanga wrote. “This is partly the result of the political fallout from the so-called Bridgegate scandal … But, in addition, the governor’s efforts at cleaning up the state’s multitude of fiscal messes and recharging its economy have stalled, prompting criticisms that he isn’t doing enough to revive New Jersey.”
But a sluggish economy, in this context, could easily be explained by the Democrat legislature’s refusal to cut taxes. It’s more than that. Much more. Regular readers know I’ve been talking about “Christie angst” for far longer than the national media, warning that his intrastate political strategy would doom him before Bridgegate ever could.
To fully understand why Gov. Christie stalled in New Jersey, we also need to revisit the particulars of HOW he won reelection, a point which too many commentators gloss over. Nixon was doomed the day he won reelection in 1972 without any coattails. Similarly, Governor Christie’s agenda never stood a chance of surviving November 2013 given the zero net change in the legislature’s partisan composition. They were afraid of facing him down in 2013 so many Democrats backed him, openly or behind closed doors. After the votes were cast? They no longer had any incentive, whatsoever, to play ball on big items. Blame redistricting, inside deals, differing campaign strategies between the Front Office and the legislative leadership… it doesn’t matter now.
The die is cast.
Hobbled but not silenced by collapsed (not -ing, already -ed) poll numbers, Team Christie is already preemptively responding to National Review via social media:
The Governor is also back on the town hall circuit, a tactic which helped him tremendously in Term #1, continuing with a Somerville event next Tuesday, March 10th at the Van Derveer Elementary School Gymnasium.
Today? He’s out of town for the rest of this week, visiting the deep South to raise money for his national leadership PAC.