Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) probably will not run for President this year, though many elite Republicans want him to.
The national Chris Christie buzz
All the buzz about Chris Christie has come from national media. CBS News, Fox News Channel, and The Wall Street Journal all have weighed in. All seem to say that many famous Republicans, including those who give the most to campaigns, want Chris Christie to run. CBS named a few: Henry Kissinger, Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush. A rumor surfaced a week ago that he had formed an exploratory committee. (The Federal Elections Commission has no record of any such committee.) Today another rumor surfaced that Christie is already forming a campaign team.
The biggest case for Chris Christie is the reputation he made for himself as New Jersey’s governor. He did defeat a Democratic governor in Barack Obama’s first year in office. Obama campaigned heavily for Christie’s opponent, Jon S. Corzine; that came to nothing. (The Democratic Party also fielded a spoiler in the race; that came to less than nothing.) After that, he slowed the growth of the state’s budget below the trend line. Democrats—and especially the public-employee unions—have screamed loudly about that, and still do. He also canceled a big public-works project that Corzine had broken ground on—the “Access to the Region’s Core” Tunnel.
The case against Chris Christie
But Chris Christie would have many problems if he did run. He could count on no support from Tea Party activists in New Jersey. One activist (and CNAV contributor) wrote over the weekend that Christie was not a genuine conservative, but a “Trojan horse.” Part of the problem: Christie’s support comes from the very “money-bag” men whom the Tea Party loathes and despises. Another part is Christie’s seeming ignorance of key issues that affect human liberty. Those issues include gun control, radical Islam, immigration, and “global warming.”
After confronting Chris Christie prior to his election regarding the Second Amendment, your humble reporter quickly recognized that he didn’t have any idea about firearms or the purpose of the Second Amendment. He didn’t know what an assault weapon is or how it functions. The Governor was and still is an enthusiastic supporter of Bill Clinton’s assault weapons ban. So if you’re in favor of gun control, then Governor Christie is your man.
In the one test that Christie faced on gun control, he commuted, to time served, the seven-year sentence of Brian Aitken. Aitken ran afoul of New Jersey’s gun laws while transporting a pistol, that he had lawfully bought in Colorado, to his new Hoboken apartment. Christie could have granted Aitken a full pardon, but he did not.
Chris Christie’s record on other issues is ambiguous at best. He refused to reappoint Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace. Wallace, he said, was not respectful enough of the State constitution. But Christie never considered making a recess appointment or otherwise fighting hard to fill what is still an empty chair on that court.
The worst failing that Tea Party activists cite Christie for is that he never joined any of the lawsuits against the health care reform bill. The Florida case (the multi-State commerce-clause case) will come up in the US Supreme Court’s “Friday meeting,” perhaps this week. But New Jersey has a case of its own, that raises fifteen separate counts against the bill. The plaintiffs in that case want to know why Chris Christie did not join that case, if he’s serious about defending the US Constitution.
Practical problems with a Chris Christie run
The Star-Ledger (Newark) sensibly mentions one historical reason why Chris Christie will not run. In 2005, he refused to run for governor when James B. McGreevey had disgraced his office. He said that he was not finished cleaning up the State as United States Attorney. He meant what he said. By the time he ran for governor in 2009, he had put several prominent and powerful Democrats behind bars. (He also had Essex County Executive James W. Treffinger, a Republican, hauled out of his office in handcuffs.)
So now, The Star-Ledger Statehouse Bureau says, Christie is busy being governor. He wants to finish the job before he runs for another.
Even national media people admit that Christie might not be able to run effectively now—he has waited too long. Technically, he could still qualify for the early primaries. But Florida wants yet again to hold its primary first. In response, Iowa (the one caucus State) and other early primary States are moving their primaries up. That would force Chris Christie to campaign during the end-of-year holiday and football playoff seasons. Or (The Wall Street Journal wonders whether the Republican elites are ruining their party’s chances by trying to settle the nomination so fast.)
Even without this problem, Christie risks enjoying a run of popularity, then losing it very quickly. Rick Perry had this problem (and, say New Jersey Tea Party activists, for the same reason). John McCain told Fox News about this hazard. Herman Cain hinted at it: he said that Chris Christie would get a lot of media attention early on. Cain graciously declined to say that Christie would fall from this peak.
Featured image: Chris Christie as United States Attorney. Photo: US Department of Justice
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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