WASHINGTON, October 10, 2013 — Chris Christie is almost guaranteed to win re-election for New Jersey’s upcoming gubernatorial race. Where does he go from there?
As a one-term Governor he’s already had some success, aided by political bi-partisanship and tolerance from his adversaries on the left. He’s slowly made progress as a Republican with Black voters, with policies tailored to appeal to New Jerseyans rather than simple retail politics. Christie, unlike most Republicans, has earned a lot of street credibility, which is resulting in an unusual likeability amongst non-traditional voters.
Christie’s success with a strongly Democratic State Assembly, which he’s remarkably been able to govern, already makes the Newark native stand out from most governors. So what’s the recipe of his success?
Christie’s done plenty of things that most Republican governors just won’t do, which has slowly reclaimed a few once alientated conservative base voters. If nothing else, the GOP might not be so quick to condemn a candidate like Christie who has the respect of non-traditional political circles. Much of his appeal makes the GOP standout in New Jersey, and every Republican candidate would do well by studying the political strategies that Christie uses to govern the Garden State.
Could Christie ever be a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination? It depends. Unfortunately, when conservatives discuss him on the national scene, there’s still an ill-willed dissatisfaction from some that the Governor who decided to put the victims of Hurricane Sandy’s interest over Washington politics.
It’s Christie’s job to govern New Jersey, not play Washington politics. He’s currently at a 70 percent approval rating, and has a strong record of getting things done under the golden dome, which should be a hint to the GOP that Christie could be ready for primetime. At a time when Congressional approval ratings sit below 11 percent, and in the wake of the government shutdown, a potential Christie nomination could still present a problem for those on the far right who do not care for compromise.
Success can come by different paths that lead to the same goal. Winning elections outside red states and demonstrating effective governance could be Christie’s path to success. While other Republican presidential aspirants court conservative activists at events like CPAC, Christie is publicly showing how elections are won and how political division is healed — by simple principled standards.
Few would mistake Chris Christie for a go-along to get-along type of politician. He took on one of the most passionately held issues in New Jersey, education, and remained steadfast in producing school-choice reform. Even when critics on the left pushed back with accusations that he didn’t care about public education, and that charter schools were just a political gimmick, Christie still lead the fight against New Jersey’s teachers unions, which chose to accept failing schools as an option.
The Governor’s secret formula is nothing more than the adoption of common sense principles, which adds a unique quality to a political process that has lost its credibility, especially from Republicans. What’s missing in Washington and from Congress is the desire to negotiate, almost a dirty word in politics today. Let’s not forget that the nation’s founding principles were born in compromise.
Compromise is what Christie has done thus far, and masterfully. As the radical right continues to mock and argue that he shouldn’t be given a chance at the national scene, they should consider the challenges of working with an all Democratic legislature, then governing a state formerly engulfed in corruption, then closing of deep budget gaps without raising taxes. Christie is better than conservative; he’s smart, effective, and right.
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