Chris Christie

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Christie makes good traffic jams.
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He signs this amazingly specific executive order allowing one man — the governor of New Jersey — who he himself, through no fault of his own, happens to be. It allows that one person to get luxury trips through foreign governments that he again, surprisingly, in the days after becomes the recipient of. This man is so lucky, he should play the lottery — after signing an executive order saying 'the governor of New Jersey automatically wins the lottery'.
—Jon Stewart[1]

Christopher James "Chris" Christie (1962–) is the former Republican Governor of New Jersey. C.C. attended college at the University of Delaware and Seton Hall University School of Law before becoming a partner in a law firm.[2] In 2002, Christie was appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey by George W. Bush, where he earned a reputation for cracking down on corruption, and later went on to be elected governor of the state in 2009.[2]

Long story short, the state's two previous Democratic governors, Jim McGreevey and Jon Corzine,[note 1] may charitably be described as corrupt slug monsters. McGreevey, elected in 2001, resigned in 2004 when it came out that he had appointed his extramarital lover as homeland security adviser despite a lack of qualifications (the fact that said lover was another man, making McGreevey the first openly gay governor of a US state after he was outed, only made him that much more of a laughingstock), and furthermore faced the possibility of indictment on extortion charges that had landed one of his chief campaign fundraisers in prison. Corzine was a former Goldman Sachs CEO, which basically says it all, and just about got himself killed while in office because, by his own admission, he was too stupid to wear a seat belt. Christie rode into office as a reformer who would fight entrenched corruption — and even then, he only got in with 48.5% of the vote, beating Corzine by less than four points while 5.8% of voters, disgruntled with both their choices, voted for the independent candidate Chris Daggett. When re-election came in 2013, Christie was riding high on that Hurricane Sandy wave and Barbara Buono seemed like she was running because somebody had to. The Democrats in this state just don't even bother.

Christie was term-limited in 2017, and due to his massive unpopularity following Bridgegate, effectively dragged down his lieutenant governor, leading to Democrat and former Goldman Sachs banker Phil Murphy cruising into the governor's mansion. Even if the state didn't have term limits, he'd have to move out of New Jersey if he wanted to win any more elections, due to his rock-bottom approval ratings. (For the bridge thing and also because he's a Dallas Cowboys fan. No joke.)

It's a solid trend in NJ: love them at first, then realize why you hate them. Hmm, guess Gotham really is based on New Jersey.

Bridgegate[edit]

It was a different time in 2013. Barack Obama had just won reelection, Osama bin Laden was two years removed from being dead, Russia hadn't annexed Crimea from Ukraine, gay marriage was only two years away from being ruled legal nationwide in America, Iran and Cuba were beginning to normalize relations with the United States, the Arab Spring was in full swing with multiple dictators resigning or dying, DAESH wasn't conquering land in Iraq and Syria yet, Bernie Sanders wasn't a world-famous name, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and the rest of the Squad weren't in Congress yet, and everyone assumed Hillary Clinton would be president in three years' time. No one thought Donald Trump would even run for president, let alone win. But the 2010s would prove, just as the 2000s before and the 2020s after, the old adage: "There are decades where years happen, and there are years where decades happen."

Years before the primary began, Christie's moderate credentials, deserved or not, made him seem like a real threat for the nomination. People expected a rerun of 2012: a Republican "moderate" defeating a murderers' row of far-right extremists while losing the general election to a centrist Democrat. Had he won, it would have continued a trend of extremist Republicans pretending to be moderate gaining the nomination: John McCain and Mitt Romney were both called RINOs despite McCain supporting the Iraq War and Romney supporting private healthcare. All three were also less socially conservative than their theocratic counterparts (Mike Huckabee for McCain, Rick Santorum for Romney, and Ted Cruz for Christie). It wrote itself, and it was what everyone assumed would happen despite it being three years before the primary. Christie's supposed moderate image took hold because of his gratitude to Obama over Hurricane Sandy relief, when most Republicans wanted Christie to snub the president instead. Next to that, Christie looked like a sensible and reasonable New England Republican, because the bar is that low for American right wingers. Christie won handily against Barbara Buono, and everyone pretty much expected him to run for president in 2016 regardless of what he actually did during his second term as New Jersey governor.

So what did Christie do during 2013? He ordered his allies to shut off two of three access lanes during morning rush hour in Fort Lee, which caused a massive traffic jam in that constituency, because that bridge was used by "the children of Buono voters," Buono being his opponent in the 2013 election. His staffers outright said they didn't care about the kids getting stuck, and many union leaders attributed that to Christie's "callous indifference" via his administration's "contempt" and "hostility toward public schools and the people who work in them." His administration, critics and union supporters say, sees students as "as commodities to help private companies increase profits."[3] The Mayor of Fort Lee at the time, Mark Sokolich, was a Democrat who endorsed Barbara Buono for governor, and that apparently was an impetus for Christie to enact political retribution. Ironically, the majority of the people in Fort Lee voted for Christie, not Buono.[4]

Port Authority chief David Wildstein confessed he only caused the traffic jam because "my job was to advance Governor Christie's agenda." Wildstein claimed that Christie wanted to "look like a hero" by "improving traffic flow." Christie's deputy chief of staff, Bridge Anne Kelly, said Christie gave the "green light" to Bridgegate, and Kelly herself was caught saying "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," where Bridgegate happened. When the two access lanes were closed, New Jerseyans were pissed because they were closed right at the start of the new school semester, and it took nearly a month before anything changed. On September 30th, 2013, Port Authority executive director Pat Foy ordered the lanes reopened despite "furious expletive-laced efforts by Christie's New Jersey operatives to shut them down again." The legislature even got involved, calling people to testify, and local media demanded answers, to which Christie lied about his involvement or knowledge. Eventually, everything unraveled after Wildstein resigned, and it was revealed that the traffic jam really was done as payback against Mayor Sokolich for declining to support Christie, who eventually was forced to apologize to the state for the scandal.[5][6] Christie's approval ratings plummeted, many of his lackeys were fully discredited as partisan hacks, and his chances at winning were completely destroyed.[7][8] Christie reached a meager 6th place during the New Hampshire primary, and he dropped out in humiliating fashion, all while he was still governor of New Jersey (since 2017 was when he would end his term and leave office).

While everyone recognized the significance of Bridgegate as it pertained to Christie, it actually had long-reaching consequences for the entire 2016 Republican primary. Christie cited Bridgegate as the reason Trump declined to choose Christie as his running-mate, who instead chose Mike Pence.[9] If he couldn't be Vice President, Christie instead wanted to be Attorney General, but Trump offered Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, which Christie declined.[10] Nevertheless, in 2020, Christie decided to help prep Trump before the first debate with Joe Biden, but "no one was wearing masks" during debate prep, and Christie became one of many infected with COVID 19, although he survived.[11][12]

Bridgegate also had far-reaching consequences for New Jersey, as Christie's lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, who ran for governor in 2017, was utterly demolished by Phil Murphy, who became Governor of New Jersey with 56% of the vote. Despite being a millionaire with ties to Goldman Sachs, Murphy actually ran and governed as a progressive, restoring subsidies to renewable energy, ordering a temporary ban on fracking, restored funding to Planned Parenthood, legalizing marijuana, limiting solitary confinement in prisons, signed an executive order building a state-owned bank, and even implemented a wealth tax on millionaires, including himself. Murphy won reelection by a hair's breath in 2021, becoming the first Democratic governor of New Jersey to win a second term since 1977. Christie's stench stunk so bad, New Jersey voted for a Democratic governor twice.

Positions[edit]

The bad[edit]

Christie privatized water in New Jersey, thereby giving enormous amounts of dollar-dollar-bills-yo to private water companies, and depriving entire communities of a human right.[13] This is as clear as any window we can give you to show exactly who Christie cares more about, and it's certainly not the people of New Jersey.

Christie is pro-life and believes marriage should only be between one man and one woman,[14] vetoing a New Jersey same-sex marriage bill using the "public referendum" canard.[15] The state courts were in a wrestling match with him on this and he eventually had the decency to end his appeal.[16]

Like Scott Walker in Wisconsin, Christie believes that the way to improve public services, particularly education, is to smash the (already nearly dead) public sector unions. In this, he has an unusual ally — Stephen Sweeney, the Democratic leader of the state Senate and the head of a local ironworkers' union. So much for labor solidarity. He's also a fan of completely destroying working families' chances at having a decent living.[17]

He supports lowering taxes farther than the record-low levels that they are now, and raising the retirement age for Social Security.[2] The intent is to help boost job growth, which is working spectacularly well given that New Jersey currently ranks 49th in job creation.

He has staunchly defended the NSA's surveillance of American citizens, invoking 9/11 as his chief argument and claiming that the (civil) libertarianism of Rand Paul et al. was "a very dangerous thought."[18]

In late 2013, a scandal erupted when his appointees to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey got several lanes on the George Washington Bridge shut down, ostensibly to punish the mayor of the town of Fort Lee (the western terminus of the bridge) for not supporting Christie during his re-election campaign.[19] It would be a surprise if Christie wasn't found to be directly involved with the closures, as he is known to be quite the hands-on govenor.[20]

He rewards his donors with blood-soaked 9/11 rubble.[21] He (along with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo) also tried cashing in on the Ebola scare by quarantining a virus-free Doctors Without Borders nurse.[22] He also wants to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, to help his rich donors.

The economy of New Jersey has, to put it bluntly, sucked under his tenure. While most of the country, including neighboring New York and Pennsylvania, has recovered all the jobs lost during the recession and then some, New Jersey lags far behind, still having yet to recover two-thirds of the jobs lost. The unemployment rate remains a full point-and-a-tenth higher than the national average at 6.5%, despite having been at or slightly below the national average before the Great Recession, and New Jersey has been one of only a few states to see poverty rates consistently go up. The state also sits under a massive debt burden, with the second-lowest state credit rating in the country, behind only Illinois.[23] To be fair, Christie inherited many of these problems; both manufacturing and the pharmaceutical industry (a major employer in the state) had been hit by outsourcing, R&D (another major employer) had been declining in American business for decades, and the woes of near-bankrupt Atlantic City can be attributed mainly to competition from new casinos in the Northeast. However, his policies have also done little to fix them, focusing on austerity in an attempt to close the state's yawning budget gap as opposed to economic recovery.[24]

The so-so[edit]

Christie's environmental record is mixed. On one hand, he tried to weaken the state's Department of Environmental Protection on the grounds that it was killing businesses, and withdrew the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).[note 2] On the other, he believes in green, renewable energy instead of offshore drilling, supporting tax credits for offshore wind farms and allowing the construction of solar arrays on farmland.[2] Yes, a Republican who believes believed in global warming, as hard as that may be to believe.[25] After he entered the 2016 Presidential Race, he said that "I didn’t say I was relying on any scientists. I don’t see evidence that it’s a crisis."[26]

His drug policy is also a mixed bag. While he opposes medical marijuana and the liberalization of drug laws, he does support sending non-violent offenders to rehab rather than prison.

The good[edit]

Despite being a Republican, Christie isn't disturbed by others' religions and has thus earned respect from some liberals.[27]

Christie, as a New Jerseyan and a half-Italian American, has trashed the makers of Jersey Shore and blocked them from receiving $420,000 worth of tax credits to film in the state,[28] meaning that all production costs now have to come out of MTV's pocket. Sure, this may be keeping jobs out of the state, but do you really want to have anything associated with Jersey Shore on your resumé?

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy destroying the Jersey Shore, Christie came down from Bullshit Mountain put partisan politics aside and praised Barack Obama's handling of the recovery (on Fox News, no less), to the point where some felt that he was throwing Romney, who he had previously endorsed, under the bus.[29][30] He has now been effectively declared a RINO.[31]

While he opposes gay marriage (and even then, as previously mentioned, not enough to oppose a court ruling legalizing it in the state[32]), he otherwise has a decent track record on gay rights, including supporting civil unions and making New Jersey the second state (after California) to outlaw the use of reparative therapy on minors.[33] He's also against businesses discriminating against LGBT people.[34]

Christie was also one of only a handful of Republican governors to opt in to the Medicaid provisions in the Affordable Care Act.[35]

In November 2015 his failing 2016 Presidential Run got a bit of traction when he gave some surprisingly enlightened views of addiction, saying that it's hypocritical to be "Pro-Life" and deny addicts treatment.[36]

In summary[edit]

Governor Christie is an East Coast "big city" conservative cut from the same cloth as Rudy Giuliani and Ed Koch — big on national security and economic issues, but moderate-to-liberal on social issues and the environment. During most of his time as a Governor, Christie was seen as a sane Republican, in that he probably would be forced to take more moderate positions if it meant staying in power. He's also not nearly as confrontational as the Tea Party right, despite his reputation for being a boisterous, hot-headed "Jersey bully."

However, he is not a moderate Republican by any means, let alone a RINO (despite the cries of the far-right). Christie is an anti-vaxxer, opposed to marriage equality, wants to abolish Medicaid for the poor, wants to cut Social Security benefits to seniors, supports raising the Medicare retirement age to 69 (Nice.), doesn't see water as a basic human right, wants to escalate the War on Drugs by cracking down on even legal pot, and gleefully tramples on workers' rights while eradicating their environment and contributing mightily to climate change. He may be sane, in that he's not completely opposed to cooperation with Democrats, but he's as extreme as any pro-corporate, pro-Wall Street plutocrat can be.

Presidential run and fallout[edit]

See the main article on this topic: 2016 Republican Party presidential nomination

Many Republicans hoped to see the moderate, straight-talking Christie run for their party's nomination for the 2012 election, but he said no, thereby laying the groundwork for a 2016 run. (Politics.) He endorsed Mitt Romney for President, and gave the keynote speech at the Republican National Convention. The speech turned out to be a plug for himself, somehow.

Ironically, Trump gave $250,000 to the Republican Governors Association when Christie was chairman in 2014.

Do you want fries with that?[edit]

Christie, muddy but unbowed from the bridge scandal, announced his intent to run for President. It was bad enough that donors were openly hedging their bets.[37]

He severely underestimated how much his "bipartisan-moderate" shtick had hurt him in the 3-4 years that followed. So he over-compensated with his hatred for Obama and Hillary, and ultimately turned off all the moderates (who previously liked him) without gaining any support from his own party. He'll always be the hot-shot east coast governor who hugged Obama right before that election.

Christie eventually dropped out and endorsed Donald Trump. The father of Trump's son-in-law, Charles Kushner, was prosecuted by Christie in 2005, resulting in something like a "family feud."[38] At one point, Trump seriously considered naming Christie for his vice-president, but by March 2016, relations had frozen over to the point where Trump humiliated him every chance he got. Christie was forced to skip the funeral of a NJ state trooper who was killed in the line of duty to go campaign with Trump.[39] This is the icing on the cake for all the other problems Christie has to deal with back home. In effect, Trump had become his political life-line. The sickening thing is that Trump completely cut him off at the knees and chose another VP, and there was nothing Christie could do about it.

There was even a (scurrilous) rumor that Trump assigned Christie to go fetch McDonald's for him. These are the kinds of promises Trump knows how to deliver on: finding the best man for the job at hand, and putting that man to work.

How about Secretary of Transportation?[edit]

Christie's approval rating is at record lows after the endorsement, so barring a huge upset in the general election this is the end of the line for him.[40] And yes, appreciate the dark comedy that Giuliani and Christie, who each had the highest visibility of any Trumpkin, were both passed over for cabinet positions. Considering what happened to Giuliani when he came back to the spotlight under Trump, Christie might not be so mad about that anymore.

External links[edit]

Videos[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. Not counting Richard "who?" Codey, the State Senate President who finished out the remaining fourteen months of McGreevey's term following his resignation.
  2. A program among all the Northeastern states (except Pennsylvania and, now, NJ) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a cap and trade program. Pennsylvania acted as an observer, as did the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. More information hereWikipedia

References[edit]

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/06/jon-stewart-chris-christie_n_6628364.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 State of New Jersey: Governor Christie
  3. "Union Blasts Former Port Exec, Christie for 'Children of Buono Voters' Barb," Joseph M. Gerace, Patch
  4. Julie Kliegman, Politifact
  5. "Lawyers on both sides of Bridgegate trial paint Christie as central figure," North Jersey News
  6. A short history of Bridgegate
  7. "With Bridge Case Charges, a Cloud Descends on Christie’s White House Hopes," Michael Barbaro, New York Times
  8. "Chris Christie's 2016 prospects drop amid allegations, new poll shows," Brent Johnson, NJ.com
  9. "Christie: 'I'm sure' Bridgegate was 'a factor' in Trump's VP decision," Nick Gass, Politico
  10. "Christie turned down several jobs in Trump administration, sources say," Brent Johnson, NJ.com
  11. "Chris Christie tests positive for coronavirus, checks into hospital as precautionary measure," Emma Newburger, CNBC
  12. "'No one was wearing masks' during debate prep, Chris Christie says after president contracts coronavirus," USA Today
  13. http://www.ifyouonlynews.com/environment/chris-christie-quietly-signs-water-privatization-law-to-benefit-his-donors-media-ignores-it/
  14. On the Issues: Chris Christie
  15. N.J. governor vetoes same-sex marriage bill, CNN
  16. As Gays Wed in New Jersey, Christie Ends Court Fight, The New York Times
  17. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bailey-childers/5-things-to-know-about-chris-christies-record_b_7699182.html?utm_hp_ref=business&ir=Business
  18. NJ Gov. Chris Christie: Opposing NSA Surveillance Is A 'Strain Of Very Dangerous Thought'
  19. See the Wikipedia article on Fort Lee lane closure scandal.
  20. For Christie, Politics Team Kept a Focus on Two Races, The New York Times
  21. Christie Turned Twin Towers Wreckage Into “Politically Motivated Gifts”, Phillymag
  22. Chris Christie's Ebola Blunder, New York Magazine
  23. Long, Heather. "Chris Christie's problem: New Jersey's ho-hum economy." CNN Money, 30 June 2015 (recovered 30 June 2015).
  24. Hennelly, Robert. "Chris Christie's Jersey nightmare: Why his state hasn't touched the economic recovery." Salon, 13 January 2015 (recovered 30 June 2015).
  25. Where the 2016 GOP contenders stand on climate change, Washington Post
  26. Christie Says He’s Not ‘Relying On Any Scientists’ To Inform Climate Change Views by Emily Atkin (Dec 1, 2015 3:50 pm) Think Progress.
  27. Christie on appointing a Muslim to a superior court. (Don't read the comments section if you want to maintain your faith in humanity.)
  28. Governor vetoes tax break for 'Jersey Shore', Reuters
  29. "Hurricane Sandy: Is Chris Christie Throwing Romney Under the Bus?", Yahoo! News
  30. Romney Has a Christie Problem and a FEMA Problem, The New Yorker
  31. Murdoch calls the whambulance
  32. Chris Christie gay marriage move stirs GOP, Associated Press
  33. Chris Christie signs ban on gay conversion therapy, The Huffington Post
  34. "Chris Christie: 'Businesses Should Not be Allowed to Discriminate'”, Human Rights Campaign
  35. Christie: 'Proud' of expanding Medicaid but costs need better management, The Star-Ledger
  36. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iB4WiCh8Y4
  37. Wall Street Plays 2016 Dating Game as Christie Stumbles, Bloomberg.
  38. "Kushner vs. Christie: The nasty Trump transition fight that goes back a decade", CNN 11.17.16
  39. "Chris Christie Addresses Criticism for Missing a State Trooper’s Funeral", NYT (via Associated Press) 3.15.16.
  40. Alexandra Petri (2 March 2016), "Chris Christie's wordless screaming", The Washington Post, retrieved on 2016-03-04. Petri: "His were the eyes of a man who has gazed into the abyss, and the abyss gazed back, and then he endorsed the abyss."