Governor Chris Christie’s courting of national attention has proven dissatisfying to New Jerseyans of all political persuasions.
In a column this weekend, the Star-Ledger editorial board accused him of “roll[ing] over Latinos” to win over GOP primary voters after refusing to sign the state’s version of the Dream Act. “He’s dreaming” if he thinks “voters won’t notice if he promises one thing when running for governor, then another when he’s running for president,” the editorial board argued in its piece.
Christie had promised while campaigning that he was open to something like a Dream Act for illegal immigrants that had not voluntarily come to New Jersey. While Christie’s reason for not signing the bill on his desk last week was that it provided more funding than the federal program and was simply too unwieldy given the debt of the state, the Star-Ledger insisted it was all about presidential ambition. The Star-Ledger is correct in noticing the tidal wave of national attention, but it seems to purposefully ignore that Christie the candidate promised conservative governance even when getting along with President Obama and when working in tandem with state Democrats like Cory Booker.
New Jersey’s largest newspaper has not been a friend to the state’s current governor. Having endorsed third-party independent Chris Daggett over both Christie and Obama ally Jon Corzine, the newspaper’s editors have been relentless in attacking Christie’s tenure.
They followed up their attack on Christie over the Dream Act this weekend with yet another editorial Monday morning arguing that “voters did not endorse Christie’s agenda,” instead giving Democrats the power over the legislature necessary to make it impossible for anything to get done without bipartisan cooperation. In this piece, they accuse Christie of interpreting bipartisan cooperation as “Democrats [yielding] to him,” something they disagree voters want because of the Democratic power in the legislature.
That editorial, like their attack on him for refusing to sign the Dream Act, highlighted a sense in the state that Christie is looking out for himself on a national scale far more than for the state. New Jerseyans are evenly divided as to whether they think Christie would make a good president, and less than half would like to see him try.
The sense that Christie still has work to do, especially as tragedy after tragedy continues unresolved more than a year after Hurricane Sandy, injects a desperation into watching the governor become a national media darling, making jokes on big-name shows, and investing much of his time in running the Republican Governor’s Association. As this concern swells through the months and years of his tenure, the question of his presidential candidacy stops being, “Will the rest of the country accept Chris Christie?” but rather, “Will New Jersey reject him when he needs them to cheer him on the most?”