New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has many conflicting sides to his public image. Some recognize that he is a dedicted family man--a committed husband and father. Yet, others will cite his cutting of social programs, including Medicaid Funding, which limits medical services for many poor and elderly people in New Jersey.
He demonstrates his determination to improve public education in New Jersey. Yet, his detractors have cited his policies regarding school funding, charter schools and private special education schools that, they maintain, are draining resources away from public schools. Although he has worked to limit the salaries of public school superintendents, the directors of many charter school and the special education private schools are making exorbitant salaries--some as much as three hundred thousand dollars per year.
There is no question that Chris Christie has led an exemplary private life, devoid of any scandals, In addition, he has served as a role model for other husbands and fathers to follow. Furthermore, he has been determined to end public corruption in our State, wherever it may be. The Governor’s record before taking office bears this out. He convicted former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski, former Essex County Executive James Treffinger, former State Senate President John A. Lynch, and former Newark Mayor and State Senator Sharp James of bribery, mail fraud and tax evasion charges. All four went to jail, further demonstrating Christie’s policy of zero tolerance toward corruption in Government. Perhaps most importantly, the Governor has convicted both Republicans and Democrats, alike.
Yet, the Governor has taken some questionable executive actions. During the opening days of his first term, Christie decided to set a new precedent by being the first Governor to fail to-nominate a member of the New Jersey Supreme Court in the history of our State Constitution. John Wallace, a Harvard-trained lawyer, was deemed to be too liberal for Christie’s liking. For the first time, a sitting Governor had “Politicized the Judiciary”.
On the plus side, the Governor has surprised many people recently by his agreement to give the children of illegal immigrants “In State” status, thus lowering their college tuition rates.
The Governor reached a working agreement with the Democratic controlled Legislature in forming a 2014 budget back in June; thus supporting his boast that he has attained bi-partisan support for his policies. However, the majority of Democrats have rejected Christie’s actions and denounced the Democrats who have supported the Governor. Nevertheless, his re-election included the votes of many Democrats and may have created a split in the Party. In contrast, the Governor is receiving more national media attention than ever.
The thought of the Governor’s second term elicits several questions. If he attempts to be the National Republican nominee in 2016, he must survive the national primaries. However, primary voters tend to be the extreme ideological members of their Party. In Christie’s case, primary voters will be the most conservative member of the GOP. As a result, will Christie become more conservative during his second term than he has been in the first? Will programs in education and health care be in jeopardy? In any case, the Governor’s national profile will be established during his second term.
Christie comes across to our state’s voters as a true “Jersey Guy." The question now is, “Will the Governor serve a full term or throw his hat in the ring in pursuit of the White House?” A second question is, “Will the Jersey Guy persona appeal to voters across the nation?”
Within the next few coming months we may have the answer.