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Tags: Chris Christie

What Happens if Christie Really Never Knew All Along?



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

What Happens if Christie Really Never Knew All Along?

New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s knowing about the bridge lane closures and then giving that “I had no idea” press conference would suggest he was either a nut job or an extremely convincing liar. Having said that, most of us on the Right would not accept a Democratic governor’s investigating himself or an “internal investigation” or an investigation by allies. So a lot of folks, fairly or not, will dismiss this investigation.

Howard Kurtz:

The internal report exonerating Chris Christie in the George Washington Bridge scandal was big enough news that the cable networks went live to the presser during or after President Obama talking about his meeting with Pope Francis.

. . . Let’s assume, for just a second, that the report was largely on target. It was headed by Randy Mastro, a former New York City deputy mayor, who knows that he will look like a dishonest hack if the federal and state investigations find that Christie was in fact involved in the lane closures.

But if Mastro’s central finding holds up — that Christie didn’t know of the bridge fiasco and wasn’t involved in any coverup — how does that change the national media clamor over the New Jersey governor?

What if all the speculation and breathless cable segments, especially on MSNBC, was wrong, and Christie’s denials (beginning at that marathon news conference) were truthful? Even on the charges of a Hurricane Sandy aid shakedown by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, whose account was branded “demonstrably false” by the investigators?

Can you be truly “cleared” after being roughed up in this modern media age? And if he was, would Christie be owed an apology?

Kurtz concludes, “it may be that Christie was innocent in a legal sense but will still pay a huge political price. That may be unfair, but no one ever said presidential politics was fair.” Yes, but notice that certain scandals never stick to certain other figures.

As Brittany Cohan notices this morning, “Today Show talking about Bridgegate. Nothing about gun running, FBI raids, bribery, illegal campaign spending, etc. Because they’re Dems.”

If you’re not familiar with the gun running reference, it refers to this . . . 

[California State Sen. Leland] Yee discussed helping the [undercover FBI] agent get weapons worth $500,000 to $2.5 million, including shoulder fired automatic weapons and missiles, and took him through the entire process of getting them from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines to the United States, according to the affidavit.

The New York Times greeted that news with a one paragraph summary on page A21 Wednesday with the headline: “California: State Senator Accused of Corruption.”

Tags: Chris Christie

Christie Hires Former Assistant U.S. Attorney for ‘Internal Review’



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Chris Christie’s office announced this morning that they are hiring a former assistant U.S. Attorney to “assist with the internal review and cooperate with the U.S. Attorney inquiry.”

Today, the Christie Administration announced the retention of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP to assist with the internal review announced by Governor Christie last week and to further cooperate with the U.S. Attorney inquiry. As part of the review process, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP will review best practices for office operations and information flow, and assist with document retention and production.

“Governor Christie made clear last week that he will conduct an internal review to uncover the facts surrounding the lane closures in Fort Lee. His Administration is fully cooperating with the U.S. Attorney inquiry and other appropriate inquiries and requests for information. To assist in conducting that internal review and furthering that cooperation, the Christie Administration is announcing today that Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP has been retained as outside counsel. Their presence will bring an outside, third-party perspective to the situation, and they will be a valuable asset as we move forward. This Administration is committed to ensuring that what happened here never happens again. That’s what the people of New Jersey deserve.”

Heading up the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP team is former federal prosecutor Randy Mastro. Mastro is a former Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he specialized in organized crime cases and spearheaded the federal government’s landmark racketeering suit that compelled the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to hold democratic elections and to undergo court supervision. Mastro also served as former Deputy Mayor of New York City.

Here’s an interesting irony. The current U.S. Attorney for New Jersey is Paul Fishman, who as a defense attorney represented . . . Carla Katz, former union boss and former girlfriend of Christie’s predecessor, Governor Jon Corzine.

Tags: Chris Christie

HUD IG: No, This Isn’t a ‘Full-Scale Investigation’ into Christie



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Remember this blockbuster news from Representative Frank Pallone (D., N.J.), that the inspector general of HUD was investigating Chris Christie for his “Stronger Than the Storm” ads? “On Sunday, Pallone told CNN that the inspector general conducted a preliminary review and concluded there was enough evidence to launch a full-scale investigation into the state’s use of federal funds.”

The only problem is that it’s not true, according to a statement from HUD’s inspector general issued late yesterday:

On August 8, 2013, this office received a request from Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., regarding the State of New Jersey’s Post-Hurricane Sandy Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Action Plan. Audits of Federal expenditures of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, including disaster-related activities, are something that this office does routinely. The Department granted a waiver to allow the State to use $25 million of its award on a marketing campaign to promote the Jersey Shore and encourage tourism. An audit was initiated in September 2013 to examine whether the State administered its Tourism Marketing Program in accordance with applicable departmental and Federal requirements. This is an audit and not an investigation of the procurement process. We expect to issue our audit report expeditiously. We will have no further comment until the audit report is issued.

A central point of Pallone’s accusation is that the Christie administration picked one advertising agency over another because one would feature the governor in the tourism ads, and the other didn’t. But that accusation doesn’t appear to hold up, at least according to the written proposal for the ads:

“Given widely inaccurate reporting on Stronger than the Storm, we welcome the Inspector General’s report,” the firm shot back in a statement. “It will show that MWW’s proposal included no mention or suggestion of using the governor in the paid advertising campaign. The decision to include the governor was arrived at after the contract was awarded, based on timing, availability, and federal expenditure rules.”

Springsteen and Bon Jovi were on tour and the deadline was tight, among other reasons, so the public relations firm turned to the Republican governor after winning the bid, according to Josh Zeitz, a senior vice president at MWW.

And Christie was not included in a list of New Jersey “icons” featured in the 205-page ad proposal from MWW, according to a copy reviewed by POLITICO.

CNN, which originally reported Pallone’s accusation, noted the HUD IG’s clarification that it was not investigating the procurement process . . . in the eleventh paragraph of its story.

Tags: Chris Christie , HUD , Frank Pallone

Christie Administration: Oh, by the Way, HUD Took Seven Weeks to Respond to Our Request on Sandy Aid



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Yesterday, Representative Frank Pallone (D., N.J.) announced that the inspector general of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development would be launching a “full investigation” of how the administration of Chris Christie used federal disaster-relief funds, four and a half months after Pallone complained about tourism-promotion commercials that featured Christie.

Today, in advance of Christie’s State of the State address, the governor’s office announced it is dedicating an additional $145 million of existing federal recovery funds to two Sandy housing recovery programs. The release says the transfer of funds will allow “1,000 Sandy-impacted homeowners to move off of the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) Program waitlist and more than 1,200 storm-affected families to move off of the Homeowner Resettlement waitlist.”

Deep in the press release is this point:

In light of the significant waiting list for housing recovery programs and an analysis of the State’s business and housing recovery needs, the Christie Administration sought and received the federal government’s approval to transfer $160 million of the federal Sandy recovery funds designated for Grants and Forgivable Loans to Small Businesses to the above-named programs.

After a 14-day public comment period, the Christie Administration submitted the substantial amendment on November 22, 2013 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for its review. HUD approved the amendment today. [bold mine]

The New Jersey Disaster Recovery Action Plan, which was approved April 29, 2013, details how the State is distributing the $1,829,520,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds to help homeowners, renters, businesses and communities impacted by Sandy.

Do you detect a certain tone in the Christie administration’s mention that they submitted the proposal back in late November, and are only getting approval today, seven weeks later? As if they might have a complaint themselves with HUD, and how quickly they’re responding to their requests regarding this aid?

Part of Pallone’s complaint from yesterday: “Even today we have a lot of people in my district and throughout the state who still have not received the funding to help restore or rebuild their home.”

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Christie discussing Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, at the Governor’s Office in Newark, N.J., Nov. 16, 2012.

Tags: Chris Christie , HUD

Blocking Access to a Bridge Is the Worst Act Ever, Right?



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If there’s anything we’ve learned from the media’s round-the-clock, week-long coverage of Bridgemageddon, it’s that limiting access to a bridge is one of the worst crimes imaginable, right?

The above video shows when Occupy Wall Street blocked access to the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2011:

In a tense showdown above the East River, the police arrested more than 700 demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street protests who took to the roadway as they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

The police said it was the marchers’ choice that led to the enforcement action.

“Protesters who used the Brooklyn Bridge walkway were not arrested,” Paul J. Browne, the chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, said. “Those who took over the Brooklyn-bound roadway, and impeded vehicle traffic, were arrested.”

Actually, government officials’ limiting access to a bridge over personal pique or a political grudge is a serious scandal, and worthy of investigation. The firings are justified, and the New Jersey state legislature is entirely within its rights to get to the bottom of it. But the national media is offering an obsessive level of coverage not because the crime is so horrific, because the bridge access-limiting may or may not involve a big-name Republican governor who had been perceived as a strong contender for the GOP presidential nomination. When Occupy blocks access to the most iconic American bridge, it’s not even a blip on the national news. With Christie, we’re in the seventh day of intense, coast-to-coast discussion and speculation.

Thanks to Nathan Wurtzel for remembering that other obstruction of bridge access in the New York City area.

Tags: Chris Christie , Occupy Wall Street

Christie’s Spokesman: ‘Stronger Than the Storm’ Approved by Obama Administration



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Governor Chris Christie’s deputy communications director, Colin Reed, issues a statement about the “Stronger Than the Storm” campaign that . . . er, cites the Campaign Spot:

Good Morning –

If you’re reporting on the “conveniently-timed announcement” from Congressman Pallone this morning, please see the following on-the-record response from me:

“The Stronger Than The Storm campaign was just one part of the first action plan approved by the Obama Administration and developed with the goal of effectively communicating that the Jersey Shore was open for business during the first summer after Sandy. Federal agency reviews are routine and standard operating procedure with all federally allocated resources to ensure that funds are distributed fairly. We’re confident that any review will show that the ads were a key part in helping New Jersey get back on its feet after being struck by the worst storm in state history.”

Attached for your background is the relevant section of the Action Plan showing what the Obama Administration approved in connection with the tourism marketing campaign.

Further, the effectiveness of the ad campaign has already been praised by the Obama Administration at a Senate hearing last November:

In November 2013, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan Said These Campaigns “Are Effective In Growing Economic Development In Those Areas And Therefore They Actually Reduce The Cost Of Recovery To The Federal Government”

SECRETARY SHAUN DONOVAN: “. . . There has been an effort in a number of states, not just in Sandy, but historically as well in many, many prior storms to encourage economic development and we did see a small amount of CDBG money that was used for an economic development campaign to encourage people back to the beaches. . . . The evidence that we have seen is that those campaigns are effective in growing economic development in those areas and therefore they actually reduce the cost of recovery to the federal government. . . . The Community Development Block Grant is a very flexible program. This is clearly within the legal boundaries of what Congress has determined the program can be used for and it was demonstrated to us that this could be an effective tool and actually lower the cost to the federal government.” (Senate Homeland Security & Government Affairs Subcommittee Hearing on Hurricane Sandy, 11/6/13)

New Jersey Voters And Business Leaders Also Praised The Ad Campaign

63 Percent Of New Jerseyans Believe It Is Appropriate For The Governor To Appear In The Stronger Than The Storm Ads. (Monmouth University Poll, 8/21/13)

Robert Hilton, Executive Director Of The Jersey Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau: “It’s good that we have the campaign. We have a message and it’s strong, and people will see that we’re open for business after Sandy despite what they’ve believed,” said Hilton, who added that featuring Christie will help draw tourists because “his popularity is going to help us.” (Bob Jordan, “N.J. governor gets star billing in state’s tourism ads,” Asbury Park Press, 5/20/13)

The Associated Press: “Tourism promoters say the state’s advertising campaign to let people know the Jersey shore was open for business this year was good. . . . Numerous tourism officials all said they liked New Jersey’s ‘Stronger Than The Storm’ ads, featuring Gov. Chris Christie. . . . The tourism promoters did not blame the state for starting the ads too late. But they did say a new campaign needs to be rolled out as soon as possible.” (Wayne Parry, “Marketers: NJ post-Sandy ads good but too late,” Associated Press, 12/12/13)

Finally, Jim Geraghty over at NRO notes the interesting timing of this whole incident:

Could somebody please mention this to that ninny who spent last week insisting I was on a crusade to destroy Christie on behalf of Ted Cruz?

UPDATE: Representative Frank Pallone responds:

Pallone dismissed the assertions of a Christie spokesman that the announcement about the inquiry was “conveniently-timed,” an apparent reference to the revelations that one of the governor’s top aides was involved in a conspiracy to close lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge for what appears to have been political purposes. The congressman said he was informed of the audit in recent days and said there was “no correlation” between the two subjects.

To clarify, the HUD inspector general is asked to investigate back in August . . . four months pass . . . the HUD IG informs Pallone that the investigation will go forward “in recent days” as the bridge controversy dominates national news, and Pallone concludes that means there’s “no correlation”?

Tags: Chris Christie , HUD , Obama Administration

A Conveniently Timed Announcement from HUD About Christie



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The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development leaks word of investigations with amazingly convenient timing.

May 2013: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his family are starring in television commercials that are part of a publicly funded $25 million tourism campaign to encourage people to visit the Jersey Shore after Superstorm Sandy, but Democrats say they are simply taxpayer-funded campaign ads.”

You can see one of the ads featuring Christie here:

August 2013: Rep. Frank Pallone, a Democrat who ran for Senate last year, calls for “an investigation into the contract and bidding process used by Governor Chris Christie for the marketing campaign to promote the Jersey Shore and encourage tourism.”

The public hears little about any investigation for a long while. In November, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) took a jab at the ads in a Senate hearing, declaring, “when people who are trying to do good and trying to use taxpayer dollars wisely they are offended to see our money spent on political ads. You know that’s just offensive.”

Last week: Christie gets embroiled in the controversy over the closing of access lanes to the bridge.

Yesterday: “Pallone told CNN that the inspector general conducted a preliminary review of the spending and concluded that there was enough evidence to launch a full-scale investigation into the state’s use of federal funds. The audit will take several months, and the findings will be issued in an official report, he said. Pallone, a 27-year veteran of the House and vocal Christie critic, said this is not about politics.”

Amazing that the inspector general’s investigation leaks now, generating the headline “Feds investigating Christie’s use of Sandy relief funds” when the governor is at his lowest point, no?

UPDATE: Louise Mensch reminds us of the “California: Find Yourself Here” ads, featuring then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the tourism-promotion video produced by the U.S. State Department in May 2012 that featured portions of a speech by President Obama:

ANOTHER UPDATE: Louise Mensch finds another classic of the genre, from one of Christie’s predecessors:

One can argue that a governor or other elected official appearing in tourism ads represents a form of backdoor political advertising for incumbents, and ought to be discouraged as an unfair or unwise use of taxpayer dollars. But you can’t argue that Christie’s use is uniquely scandalous, and it seems a little convenient for an administration’s inspector general to suddenly treat it as potentially criminal now.

Tags: Chris Christie , HUD

‘Bridgemageddon,’ and the Lost Art of Taking Our Time



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The first Morning Jolt of the week spotlights another big roundup of bad news for the Obamacare rollout and its new enrollees — the kind of news Obamacare fans would prefer to ignore — and then this note about the media’s sudden obsession with BRIDGEMAGEDDON, and what it says about our politics . . . 

The Lost Art of Taking Our Time

So why did the national press decide that BRIDGEMAGEDDON will dominate several news cycles? How much time will we spend discussing toll routes and foul-mouthed e-mails this week, compared to, say, Afghanistan, or long-term unemployment?

Christie is getting covered like he’s a presidential candidate because the national press has decided he is a presidential candidate, even though any official announcement from Christie is probably a year away. Big, national, horse-race coverage is now a staple of journalism large and small, and the beast commands you to feed it. Those hours of cable news aren’t going to fill themselves.

(Reader: “Hey, am I reading a complaint about horse-race coverage from the guy who writes ‘The Campaign Spot’?” Well, yeah, but the point of my blog — on its better days, at least — is that there’s always somebody running for something — governor, Senate, House races, special elections as lawmakers die in office or resign, etc. Campaign Spot doesn’t cover everything, but I hope it manages to provide decent coverage beyond the presidential cycles. Besides, by the time somebody’s running for president, they’ve been covered and profiled to death. On good days, this results in profiles of Marco Rubio back in August 2009, concluding “the smart money might be on Rubio” in a primary against Crist.)

James Poulos packs a lot of wisdom into just a few paragraphs, noting that the relentless pace of coverage is eating away at a once-natural process of leaders building confidence and winning trust:

This isn’t about “conservatism” versus “liberalism.” It’s about the moderate tempo at which our institutions of governance need to move in order not to malfunction. As Greg Weiner explains in the overlooked study Madison’s Metronome, our constitutional architecture is premised on the moral axiom that impulsive impatience breeds misrule. Rather than the anti-majoritarian fetish it is often mistaken for, “temporal republicanism,” as Weiner calls it, simply intends to slow the pace of democratic decision-making to more deliberate — get it? — speeds.

Sadly today we hate that idea. Hate it. Everything else moves at the speed of light, why not politics? Because racism! Or classism, or old boy networks, or fat cats, or the corrupting influence of money on politics — anything answer will do, including correct answers, so long as they elbow out the one scandalous truth: a democracy conducted at light speed will twist our judgments and disfigure our justice. It will give us a government of weapons that kill instantly anywhere, computers that know everything everywhere, and money that can be printed at whim in any quantity . . . 

Why do we suffer such a lack of confidence in our private and public-sector elites? In our big State and our big Market? “For a reason of biblical simplicity,” writes philosopher and urbanist Paul Virilio, “confidence can never be instantaneous. It must be built, earned, over time. Instant confidence, like instant faith, doesn’t work.”

It’s early. We don’t know what the world is going to look like in January 2016, when Iowa holds its caucuses, much less January 2017, when the next president will take office.

The real mission for the next American president may be to persuade us that we can be Americans again. Not this easily distracted, cynical, tuned-out, Balkanizing mob that hobbles along with an economy that hits 3 percent growth at the best of times, is growing acclimated to slogging along in a waist-deep bureaucratic morass, and endures a public discourse that alternates among the nasty, inane, and petty, punctuated by perpetual cycles of offensiveness and grievances of the offended. We deserve better than a government that falters and flails in the face of drug cartels and gang violence but that can come down like a ton of bricks on big sodas and incandescent light bulbs. The history of this nation was driven by those who overcame the siren call of acquiescence, the anti-rallying cry of, “What’s the use?”

Humans are hope-fueled creatures. Anybody who gets up out of bed with a spring in his step does so because he’s got some hope that the next day might be better than the last. Obama’s 2008 campaign tapped into this with remarkable power (and an enthusiastically helpful press). But then again, so did the Tea Party, in its own way. Entrepreneurs, pro athletes — everybody starts by “envisioning a compelling future,” as Tony Robbins, Oprah, and all the lifestyle coaches put it. Hell, even jihadists think that someday they’re going to reinstate the Caliphate and everybody on the planet will think the way they do or be dead.

The Left probably has an advantage here, as their core philosophy is “yes, we can” build utopia, and our core philosophy is, “no, you can’t, and you’ll do a lot of damage trying.”

Tags: Chris Christie , Media , Barack Obama , Conservatism

Tune in Tonight!



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I’ll be joining the panel on Greta Van Susteren’s On the Record on Fox News this evening. We’ll be discussing the contrast between how Chris Christie and Barack Obama handle scandals, and the news that the Obama administration is letting CGI Federal’s contract to handle the Healthcare.gov site expire, and turning the job over to Accenture.

Of course, some may see the departure of CGI Federal as closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. They’ve already collected $93 million on the expiring contract to build Healthcare.gov.

CGI had some serious problems on earlier government tech projects up in Canada. Vermont and Massachusetts are also threatening to withhold future payments and discussing an attempt to get a refund. CGI also did contracting work on the state exchanges in Hawaii and Colorado.

Hope you can tune in.

Tags: Obamacare , CGI Federal , Chris Christie , Barack Obama

Where Does Chris Christie Go from Here?



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Where Does Chris Christie Go from Here?

This just handed to me: Chris Christie’s press conference is still going on.

Okay, not really. And large swaths of it seemed to hit just the right notes of sincerity, embarrassment, contrition and outrage of the actions of the governor’s aides. But . . . we’re left with a guy who had not one bad apple, but several, doing terrible things — that theses bad apples must have believed served Christie’s purposes, or else they’re psychotic saboteurs — and Christie being oblivious to it all. Christie may not be the villain here, but he’s not the hero — and every once in a while Thursday, he seemed a little too focused upon his victimization by his staff. No, the real victims are those Fort Lee commuters and the kids stuck on school buses.

Here’s Hugh Hewitt and Mark Steyn, discussing the consequences:

Mark Steyn: . . . A woman died because the ambulance couldn’t get to her in time, and so she’s dead. And so for me, the important question is not whether Chris Christie can do sufficient damage control to position himself well for the New Hampshire primary or whatever, but how we can stop political staffers from being so myopic in their view of what their job is that they wind up killing American citizens, because when American political staffers are essentially jerking the citizenry around to the point of death, then I think that’s the larger problem.

Hugh Hewitt: Well, that does connect us up to Benghazi, but I don’t think it’s been established, yet, Mark, that she would have lived but for the G.W. closure. I mean, if that’s the case, even the crazy Ashleigh Banfield, who was talking about felony murder today, I mean, way, way out ahead of the story, would be justified.

Mark Steyn: No, no, no, no. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about prosecuting the deputy chief of staff for felony murder or manslaughter or whatever. But I’m simply saying, you know New York/New Jersey. I was in Manhattan, I think it was last year, for the paperback launch of After America, and we were doing a television interview in New Jersey. So the car comes, and it takes two hours to get me to a studio just across the river in New Jersey. At the best of times, a New York–New Jersey commute involving a bridge or tunnel is not a great thing. So to have political staffers actually making it worse for political reasons gets to the heart of what’s wrong, what’s so upside down about politics in this country, and just to back to, you know, it hasn’t been definitively confirmed that she would have lived if they had got to her, in other words, you’re saying that by delaying the ambulance getting to her, it doesn’t, that did not necessarily prove the fatal part of whatever happened to this woman. That’s the wrong way to look at it. These people are supposed to be making the bridge from New York to New Jersey better. That’s why there’s government. That’s the point of government. Government isn’t there for private score settling. Government is supposed to do those things that only government can do, like arranging a transportation system between two states that makes it possible for an ambulance to get to a sick woman in time.

Hugh Hewitt: This, I agree with.

Rick Wilson: “The Acela Republican will always be betrayed by the people who create the Acela Republican.”

But Michael Graham walks away from Christie’s press conference thoroughly impressed:

Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire are unlikely to lose any sleep over the idea of a nominee whose staff enjoys making New Jersey Democrats unhappy.

“I don’t want a Republican ‘Tony Soprano’ who plays rough,” said no GOP primary voter ever.

The liberal media’s desperation to take Christie down just drives up his approval among conservatives. Democrat attacks on Christie merely give Republicans the chance to mock the left for being more outraged over two lanes of traffic than over four dead Americans in Benghazi.

Christie has been given two gifts: The opportunity to look presidential (Hurricane Sandy) and the opportunity to show how he handles mistakes. Assuming his lengthy litany of specifics yesterday about his involvement (or lack thereof) in “Bridge-Gate” was accurate, he’s handled both well.

The story certainly isn’t over yet. But if the facts are as presented, then what we saw yesterday was that rarest of creatures: A Republican politician who is good at politics.

You’ll hear a lot of arguments about whether Christie helped set up a culture within his administration that encouraged this. It’s a perfectly fair question — but his critics over on the other side of the aisle ought to acknowledge the culture that cultivated the IRS abuses, the dishonesty about the Obamacare promises, the culture at the State Department that ignored the warnings about Benghazi, the culture at the Justice Department during Fast & Furious, the culture of accountability and wise fiscal management at the General Services Administration and its conferences . . . 

Mollie Hemingway makes perhaps the best lesson of this mess:

Abuse of power is a completely expected result of government authority. That goes triple for Chicago, New Jersey and the federal government. It’s not our fault. As Samuel Johnson’s Imlac said in “Rasselas,” “No form of government has yet been discovered by which cruelty can be wholly prevented. Subordination supposes power on the one part, and subjection on the other, and if power be in the hands of men, it will sometimes be abused.”

Knowing that essentially all men having power ought to be mistrusted, this leaves us with no other option but to restrain politicians’ ability to make our lives nightmares. Mostly this means restraining our government. Anything that government touches, it can use against us in ways large and small. Perhaps we’d do a better job of keeping politicians in line if the size and scope of government wasn’t so expansive.

It also means demanding transparency over government actions. We know about these conversations out of New Jersey because Democratic lawmakers there subpoenaed the documents. It would be nice to have the conversations that led to the shuttering of the WWII Memorial or the IRS’ actions against political opponents, but our federal government is taking its sweet time responding to Freedom of Information Act and Congressional requests on these.

To me, the real key of whether Republicans should give Christie serious consideration for the 2016 nomination is what he does with all this popularity he’s accumulated. What does he want to do, and what can he accomplish, in that second term? Is he just waiting around until he can kick off the presidential campaign? Or will he be able to enact reforms that the rest of America would want to see enacted on the national scale?

Tags: Chris Christie

Christie: ‘I am responsible for what happens under my watch.’



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The key headlines coming out of Chris Christie’s press conference:

• Christie declared that his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly, lied to him about the bridge closure, allowed him to go out and give false denials to the public, and that he fired her by 9 a.m. this morning. (The recipient of Kelly’s “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” message, David Wildstein, resigned in December.)

• Christie declared he was “disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude, callous indifference, that was displayed in emails by my former campaign manager,” Bill Stepien, and said he has instructed Stepien to remove his name from the running to be chairman of the state’s Republican party and has also asked him to step down from his consultancy role with the Republican Governors Association.

• Christie says he will travel to Fort Lee, apologize to Mayor Mark Sokolich face to face, and apologize to the people of Fort Lee.

• Christie says he and his administration will cooperate with state investigations of the decisions leading to the road closure.

Large stretches of Christie’s press conference made for a textbook example of authentic, emphatic expressions of contrition, including a raw, refreshing bluntness about his long ties to the aides in question, and direct, quick action to ensure consequences for wrongdoing. But there was a somewhat troubling aspect in that Christie remained to insist that not one but several members of his team behaved in reprehensible manner, abused the state’s authority, and were willing to lie to him about it. He may not have known about their actions, and may have been left in the dark the whole time . . . but he apparently has terrible judgment in who he hires and trusts.

Tags: Chris Christie

Fort Lee Mayor Says Christie’s Story Lacks Credibility



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Fort Lee, N.J., mayor Mark Sokolich told me on last night’s Kudlow Report that New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s statement regarding the politically motivated closure incident at the George Washington Bridge lacks credibility. Here’s the video of my conversation with Sokolich, as well as a report on the interview by CNBC’s Ross LeClair.

Fort Lee Mayor: Holes in Christie’s Story

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he was unaware of the decision to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September that gridlocked traffic in a town run by a Democratic mayor.

The governor, who is contemplating a run for the Republican presidential nomination, made the statement after the release Wednesday of communications that provide more evidence that his office planned the closures, apparently because Fort Lee’s mayor did not endorse Christie’s re-election bid.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow that Christie’s statement issued after the release of the emails lacks credibility.

“There’s definitely, I think, some holes in that statement,” Sokolich said. “The governor had convened a meeting with his top staff not too long ago, and promptly after the meeting proclaimed that no one on his staff knew about it.”

Sokolich added that he was personally making phone calls after the traffic jam in an attempt to get answers from the Port Authority as to when and why the closures were planned.

“I think we’re documented 20 calls during that four-day period, I can assure you it was a lot more than that,” Sokolich said. “You may rest assured that the excuse that ‘Yeah I missed your call, sorry about that’ isn’t plausible.”

Despite his anger, Sokolich does not want the governor to apologize to him. He says the apology is better directed at the people who were impacted by the traffic jam.

“If calls are going to be made, call the families that waited two to three times longer for an ambulance to arrive while their loved one was clutching their chest because of chest pains,” Sokolich said. “Call the thousands of parents that couldn’t get their kids to school on time on the first day of school and the three or four days thereafter.”

In his statement Wednesday, Christie said: “What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.”

Ultimately, Sokolich says his job is to protect the people of Fort Lee, not to speculate about Christie.

“I’m not rooting for him to have known about it,” he said. “My job is to worry about Fort Lee.”

Tags: Chris Christie

Fort Lee Mayor Says Christie’s Story Lacks Credibility



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Fort Lee, N.J., mayor Mark Sokolich told me on last night’s Kudlow Report that New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s statement regarding the politically motivated closure incident at the George Washington Bridge lacks credibility. Here’s the video of my conversation with Sokolich, as well as a report on the interview by CNBC’s Ross LeClair.

Fort Lee Mayor: Holes in Christie’s Story

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he was unaware of the decision to close lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September that gridlocked traffic in a town run by a Democratic mayor.

The governor, who is contemplating a run for the Republican presidential nomination, made the statement after the release Wednesday of communications that provide more evidence that his office planned the closures, apparently because Fort Lee’s mayor did not endorse Christie’s re-election bid.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich told CNBC’s Larry Kudlow that Christie’s statement issued after the release of the emails lacks credibility.

“There’s definitely, I think, some holes in that statement,” Sokolich said. “The governor had convened a meeting with his top staff not too long ago, and promptly after the meeting proclaimed that no one on his staff knew about it.”

Sokolich added that he was personally making phone calls after the traffic jam in an attempt to get answers from the Port Authority as to when and why the closures were planned.

“I think we’re documented 20 calls during that four-day period, I can assure you it was a lot more than that,” Sokolich said. “You may rest assured that the excuse that ‘Yeah I missed your call, sorry about that’ isn’t plausible.”

Despite his anger, Sokolich does not want the governor to apologize to him. He says the apology is better directed at the people who were impacted by the traffic jam.

“If calls are going to be made, call the families that waited two to three times longer for an ambulance to arrive while their loved one was clutching their chest because of chest pains,” Sokolich said. “Call the thousands of parents that couldn’t get their kids to school on time on the first day of school and the three or four days thereafter.”

In his statement Wednesday, Christie said: “What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.”

Ultimately, Sokolich says his job is to protect the people of Fort Lee, not to speculate about Christie.

“I’m not rooting for him to have known about it,” he said. “My job is to worry about Fort Lee.”

Tags: Chris Christie

Christie: ‘I am outraged and deeply saddened . . . I was misled.’



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Governor Chris Christie today issued the following statement:

What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions.

Christie’s comments in early December, when questions about the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge arose, were . . . quite different in tone, joking, “I worked the cones. Unbeknownst to anyone, I was working the cones. . . . Just because [Democratic state legislators] John Wisniewski and Loretta Weinberg are obsessed with this . . . it just shows you they really have nothing to do.”

Tags: Chris Christie

Time for Some Problems in the Chris Christie 2016 Campaign



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Time for some narrative problems in the Chris Christie 2016 campaign:

Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly, one of three deputies on Christie’s senior staff, wrote to David Wildstein, a top Christie executive at the Port Authority, on Aug. 13, about three weeks before the closures. Wildstein, the official who ordered the closures and who resigned last month amid the escalating scandal, wrote back: “Got it.”

Lanes on the George Washington Bridge, connecting New Jersey and New York, were reduced from three to one for four days in September, resulting in awful traffic problems in Fort Lee; the official explanation was that the lane closures were part of a traffic study. Democrats contend that the lane closures were a form of political retribution aimed at Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich, for not endorsing Christie during his reelection campaign. Christie offered a blanket denial:

“I don’t ever remember even meeting the mayor of Fort Lee and I certainly don’t remember getting any briefings at any time from campaign staff that this was someone who was on our radar screen as a potential endorser,” Christie said. “That’s why none of this makes any sense to me and I think in the end what it will be shown to be is rank speculation from folks who want to play political games.”

If the allegations are true, the lane closures would represent a petty and obnoxious abuse of authority, one worrisome in a potential president. Some may erroneously insist this is a display of toughness or hard-nosed political power, but the form of the vindictiveness punished Fort Lee commuters of all political stripes, not just the mayor. The state isn’t given the authority to shut down road lanes as a tool for enforcing political loyalty, and it’s rather shocking that this point needs to be made.

In other news, I am informed that objecting to this means you would prefer “a Sharon Angle-type” as the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, and that it is “absurd” to “link” Christie to e-mails sent by his deputy chief of staff.

Perhaps this is all the work of rogue low-level employees in the Cincinnati office.

Tags: Chris Christie

Scarborough: ‘Hillary Clinton is the biggest neo-con that there is out there.’



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The third and final part of my recent chat with Joe Scarborough, host of Morning Joe, about his new book, The Right Path: From Ike to Reagan, How Republicans Once Mastered Politics — And Can Again.

Geraghty: For a while, you stood out from most Republicans in your views on foreign policy. You would describe it as non-interventionist, I’m sure you’ve had the term “isolationist” thrown at you. It does seem there’s been a shift in the party — you see in dealing with Syria, an exhaustion with Iraq, a frustration with Afghanistan. How different is your idea of a good noninterventionist policy from what President Obama is doing now, and how big an issue will this be in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, for Americans who want to find an alternative to what we experienced under Bush but also may not be happy with what they’re getting with President Obama?

Scarborough: I actually think the biggest fight is going to be within the Republican party — and I say fight, I really mean debate, and it’s going to be a positive debate.

Hillary Clinton is the biggest neo-con that there is out there. Democrats are basically going to be putting a candidate out there who’s going to be in agreement with my friend [former Bush official and Romney-Ryan advisor] Dan Senor the majority of the time. So we’re going to try to figure out whether we want to do what Bush said he would do in that second Inaugural Address, and end tyranny in all four corners of the globe, or whether we’re going to be tough realists like Ike was, and yes, like another Republican general, Colin Powell, was. He followed up on the [Caspar] Weinberger Doctrine that the United States of America only sends troops into battle as an absolute last option. And when we go in there, we go in with overwhelming force. As Colin Powell said in the 1990s, we don’t want a fair fight. We want to go over there, we want to kill the enemy, we want to achieve our objectives, and we want to bring our sons and daughters back home.

I think it’s funny that the New York Times and the other progressives will attack George W. Bush for eight years about being a neo-con, and then the second that Republicans start talking about restraint, suddenly we’re isolationists. What I’m talking about is not isolationism. It’s realism. We can’t keep spending $2 billion a week in Afghanistan, which we’ve been doing for years now, and rebuilding Afghanistan instead of rebuilding our own country.

Geraghty: The costs of interventions are crystal clear in a situation like Iraq, where we spent a great deal of blood and treasure, and then see inconclusive or dissatisfying results. But there’s also a cost of not intervening, and you see it in places like Syria, where we’re not involved, and the death toll has passed six figures and it’s getting messier. Is America, and or the world, ready for the consequences of a world with a non-interventionist America?

Scarborough: We’ve got to choose our strategic targets carefully. Afghanistan was doomed to fail from the beginning when we moved beyond what George W. Bush had [originally] planned for Afghanistan to be, which was an anti-terror campaign. When it stopped being an anti-terror campaign, and began being a counter-insurgency campaign, and we started trying to rebuild Afghanistan instead of hunting down the terrorists who blew up our buildings on September 11, killing them or bringing them to justice, then we had mission creep. Then Obama tripled the number of troops. That’s insanity. I said it in real time, and I’m still saying it today.

You brought up Syria. If you look at a map of the Middle East, over the past 25 to 30 years, you see our two enemies — and I use that term specifically — have been Iran and Syria. There are times where there are strategic battles to be fought. If Barack Obama had gone into Syria six months ago, nine months ago, a year ago, things would have been different. If the president had actually had a plan to do that, I would have been supportive of it.

I wasn’t supportive of him going into Libya. I wasn’t supportive of it, because I didn’t see that as central to U.S. foreign-policy interests. I do see Iran and Syria and the checking of those regimes as central, not only to long-term U.S.-foreign policy objectives, but also to our biggest ally in the region, Israel.

Geraghty: I live in Virginia, where Ken Cuccinelli just got demolished on the airwaves, accused of wanting to ban birth control, ban divorce, and so on. Are social issues a liability for the GOP? Is it just a matter of avoiding Todd Akin moments, or do they have to approach these issues differently?

Scarborough: Avoid a Todd Akin moment, but understand that Chris Christie is pro-life. He’s the first pro-life guy to get elected in New Jersey since 1973, since Roe v. Wade passed. He used an approach to social issues that I used in northwest Florida. He said, “I could have been very outspoken and aggressive and ideological about it.” He let people know he was a Catholic, he let people know he was pro-life, and he let people know he wasn’t going to waver on that position. That’s a great approach.

Let me say also, this idea that Ken Cuccinelli was defeated because of his positions on social issues is absolutely ridiculous. Cuccinelli will tell you that, and the polls and the numbers show it. The first thing that killed him was the government shutdown. Cuccinelli will say that, and all the people close to Cuccinelli will say that. The other thing was that the Republican polling killed them. Republican pollsters got it wrong in 2013 the way they got it wrong in 2012.

All the polls showed him down seven, eight, nine points. That kept the money out. . . . With a little more money, and without that government shutdown, which Cuccinelli’s people say totally got him off his game and really hurt him in northern Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli would have won.

You would be hard-pressed to find a race where a candidate being pro-life cost them an election. We’ve got a pro-life senator from Pennsylvania [Pat Toomey], and we’ve got a pro-life governor in New Jersey.

A lot of this has to do with temperament and emphasis. If a Republican candidate can convince middle-class voters and working-class voters, that he’s the one who has the best ideas for getting them back to work and strengthening the economy, they’ll vote for a pro-life candidate.

Geraghty: What is the one most important thing that Republicans need to do between now and the 2014 midterms?

Scarborough: They need to come together. I’ll be the first to take my share of the blame. I was very critical of some guys who are actually friends of mine, leading up to the government shutdown. I was because I thought it would hurt the party, and I think I was right. But one of the things that exasperated me after the election this year was that everybody was sniping at each other. Cuccinelli was the bad guy, or Christie was the bad guy. We’re going to start winning elections when we get the Christie supporters and the Cuccinelli supporters on the same side. And we’re going to start winning elections the way Reagan won elections when we get a candidate that both Ted Cruz and Colin Powell can vote for. . . . We can do it again. But we’ve got to stop the ideological witch hunts, and we’ve got to start focusing on beating Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Tags: Joe Scarborough , Syria , Hillary Clinton , Iraq , Ken Cuccinelli , Chris Christie

It’s the Morning After. Firing Squad, Assume Circular Formation!



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Woke up this morning with a headache and a blue moon in my eyes. From the Morning Jolt:

Ken Cuccinelli, Finishing Better Than Anyone Expected . . . for Whatever That’s Worth.

Boy, it’s too bad elections don’t have point spreads, huh?

Late last night, Kristina Ribali of FreedomWorks asked, “Cuccinelli did better than Romney, right?”

It depends upon your measuring stick. Cuccinelli finished closer than Romney, but won a smaller share of the vote. Obama won, 51.1 percent to 47.28 percent. At this hour, McAuliffe won, 48 percent to 45.5 percent.

At some point, accounting for all the variables gets maddening. Cuccinelli was drastically outspent . . . but he had a worse opponent. It’s an off-year election, with lower turnout that traditionally is an advantage for Republicans . . . but he had to run away from the incumbent because of Governor Bob McDonnell’s gift scandal.

Then again, maybe he shouldn’t have, judging from CNN’s exit poll: “Virginia voters actually approve of McDonnell’s job performance by 12 points (53%-41%).”

Cuccinelli indisputably was hurt by the government shutdown . . . but then he indisputably was helped by running against Obamacare in the closing days.

As Tuesday night wore on, the Republican firing squad assumed its traditional circular formation. Here’s a scorecard of the scapegoats:

It was the RNC’s fault! On Twitter, a lot of folks were calling for Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus’s blood, noting that the RNC spent $3 million helping Cuccinelli this year after spending $9 million to help Bob McDonnell in 2009. The RNC’s had a better year than its Democratic counterpart, raising about $60.9 million this year, compared to $47 million for the DNC (and the DNC still has $17 million in unpaid debt from last year).

Here’s the short version of the RNC’s summary of what they did to help Cuccinelli:

In Virginia, the RNC has nearly 50 offices, significantly more than we had in the state during the 2012 presidential cycle and a comparable number of staff…

In Virginia, we already have gathered more than twice the amount of voter data.

We have also served as a resource to the campaigns up and down the ballot. For example, we have conducted both mainstream and ethnic media training efforts with Cuccinelli, Obenshain, Dels. Rust, Comstock, and Hugo as well as Freddy Burgos, who is a challenger in the 41st District.

The RNC has a total of seven paid staffers dedicated to engaging minority communities and have attended numerous events on behalf of the Republican Party. The RNC has also done significant paid print, radio, and TV advertising in ethnic media outlets on behalf of candidates.

Was that enough?

Keep in mind, this race has looked pretty tough for Cuccinelli since at least midsummer. How much money do Republicans want the RNC throwing in to help a candidate trailing by 7 or 8 or 9 points?

I’ll tell you this: if Cuccinelli had been within two or three points consistently this fall, the RNC would have spent a heck of a lot more money than it did. The problem is that from about mid-summer until, oh, one hour after the polls closed, Ken Cuccinelli looked like a dead man walking in this race. Bad polls, quiet debate performances, brutal coverage, an inability to capitalize on tough coverage of McAuliffe’s scandals . . . 

It’s Cuccinelli’s fault! Earlier this week, I said you can’t get outspent by $15 million and win a statewide race. Apparently I should have added an asterisk and said you can keep it close. Cuccinelli got a lot of help from right-leaning groups; a fair question is whether he raised enough himself to keep himself in the ballpark with McAuliffe: the Republican Governors Association spent $8 million to help Cuccinelli. The NRA Political Victory Fund kicked in $600,000. Focus on the Family, $238,000.

As an attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli rarely ducked a fight and in fact picked fights that some Republicans might have avoided. The problem was that he didn’t want to run for reelection as that guy. Of course, Terry McAuliffe’s ad team was determined to turn Cuccinelli into a horrific funhouse mirror-version of that guy.

From Ben Domenech, a.k.a., that guy who writes that other newsletter:

Cuccinelli had the baggage of his past fights which the left used very well. This is true of Cuccinelli’s fights on marriage, abortion, climate, but particularly true of the issue of his defense of a sodomy statute on the books in Virginia. I doubt Cuccinelli ever realized how big of a liability this would be, but again, he’d have been better off defending himself vocally than shying away from it. Gay Republicans openly compared Cuccinelli to David Duke, and the indication that Cuccinelli wants to go around rounding up people for engaging in consensual sex was ubiquitous to any conversation about him on social media. Of course, in my county, there are nine convicted child abusers and sex offenders who were convicted under the statute, and I’d like to know which ones of them deserve to go off the books . . . but that defense was never offered.

It was the Libertarians’ fault! Let’s get one thing straight: A big chunk of Robert Sarvis’s voters aren’t really libertarians, or they don’t fit a definition you and I would offer for that philosophy. As Biased Girl and I have observed, some sub-segment of standard-issue liberals are self-identifying as libertarians, sort of a political hipsterism. They get to keep all of their usual liberal views on social issues, support smaller government in theory but never in practice, complain about taxes, and act like they’re so much more sophisticated than everyone else.

Jonah Goldberg’s self-proclaimed “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” friend “Bob” fits this description.

Sarvis’ voters are young – he got 15 percent of voters between 18 and 29. He took 15 percent of those who self-identified as “independents,” 8 percent of those who identified as moderate or liberal Republicans, and 4 percent of those who self-identify as liberal Democrats. Among those who said they “somewhat oppose” Obamacare, he took 17 percent; among those who said they “somewhat support” Obamacare, he took 10 percent.

One glitch in the theory from the exit polling:

Libertarian Robert Sarvis, may have made it closer for McAuliffe than it would have been otherwise. Had he not been on the ballot, a third of his voters said they’d have supported McAuliffe – slightly more than twice as many as said they’d have gone for Cuccinelli.

It’s the Tea Party’s fault! Under this narrative, Chris Christie won because he’s a moderate, Cuccinelli lost because he’s a scary Tea Partier, and New York is now run by the Sandinistas because the country is rejecting conservatism in all its forms.

There’s a molecule of truth to those arguments; perhaps more significant to Tea Partiers is the result in that special U.S. House election in Alabama:

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Bradley Byrne, a staid former state senator, led Dean Young, a conservative real estate developer who likened himself to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.

But then you look down ticket, and you see the candidate on the Right beating the candidate on the Left over and over again. You see it in the Virginia House of Delegates elections . . . where Republicans won 67 out of 100 seats.

You see it in Colorado’s referenda on tax hikes for education . . . 

Voters emphatically rejected a $950 million tax increase and the school funding revamp that came with it, handing Amendment 66 a resounding defeat Tuesday night.

. . . and you see it in New York outside of the city

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino gave his victory speech a few minutes before 11 p.m. Tuesday night, according to the Journal News. At midnight, the incumbent had 55 percent of the vote with more than half of precincts reporting. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano also declared victory, claiming 60 percent of the vote, Newsday reported.

Astorino has been floated as a possible challenger for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and although he’ll face a significant fundraising challenge and the governor’s relatively high popularity, his win in the affluent suburb where Democrats have a 2-to-1 enrollment advantage shows he has cross-party appeal.

And we’ll be playing woulda-coulda-shoulda for a few weeks. High among them: Would Cuccinelli have reversed these results with another couple of weeks of brutal coverage of Obamacare’s rollout?

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , RNC , Chris Christie , Libertarians , Tea Party

No 50-State Strategy for the Democratic Governors Association!



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This morning, three pollsters issued their final polls in New Jersey’s governor’s race. Monmouth has Republican incumbent Chris Christie up by 20, Quinnipiac has Christie up by 28, and Rutgers-Eagleton has Christie up by 36.

Back in February, the Democratic Governors Association was talking a good game:

The newly installed chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, said he’s confident her message and story will resonate with New Jersey voters — and he’s willing to devote the resources to prove it. Even at this early stage, it’s Buono’s smiling face that graces the group’s home page.

By August, Democrats were singing a different tune:

While acknowledging the “challenging” nature of the race between Buono and Christie, Shumlin cautioned that it is “by no means over.” But the DGA head would not say whether his organization would provide support in the way of television ads. “I’ve been working closely with Barbara, because we want to win. We’re not gonna start spending big money until we see evidence that we’re gonna win. And so we’re continuing to assess that.”

By yesterday, the DGA was admitting they gave up early:

In contrast, the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) has done nothing to help Christie’s opponent. “We expend resources where we think we can make a difference, and we haven’t invested in New Jersey,” said Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, chairman of the DGA.

Tags: Chris Christie , Barbara Buono , New Jersey , DGA

Christie to Buono: I Love Your Passion.



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Rookie mistake by New Jersey state senator Barbara Buono yesterday, in her debate with the heavily favored (no, that’s not a pun) incumbent, Governor Chris Christie. When a debate moderator asks you if there’s anything about your opponent you like, emulate Eli Lake and say that you love their passion, or offer some other generic compliment about the opponent’s personal qualities that concedes no ground on policy. Don’t get snarky or sarcastic.

Unfortunately, Buono figured out what she had done too late — you can see it as her smile fades:

Tags: Chris Christie , Barbara Buono

Christie’s Big Lead Isn’t Helping the New Jersey GOP



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For those of you hoping that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s expected big win in November would help his state party…. the outlook isn’t good:

Even as Republican Gov. Chris Christie holds a big lead over his Democratic opponent, new poll results released today show voters prefer to leave the Legislature under Democratic control. The Rutgers-Eagleton poll of 568 likely voters found that 50 percent wanted Democrats to maintain control of the state Senate and Assembly, while 38 percent said Republicans – who have not had control in a decade—should take over.

That same poll finds public opinion about evenly split on the state legislature, with about a third approving, about a third disapproving, and about a third having no opinion. Democrats hold a 48-32 majority in the Assembly and a 24-16 majority in the Senate.

When the top of the ticket’s opening and closing argument is that he’s “bipartisan,” it doesn’t leave much room to say, “vote for my party over the opposition.”

UPDATE: The Christie camp points out that part of the reason Democrats may be polling so well is that they’re emphasizing their close work with the Republican governor:

Assemblyman Dan Benson (D-Mercer), is running online campaign ads proclaiming his bipartisan cooperation with Christie. “Working together with the governor, we balanced the budget and cut business taxes,” Benson says proudly.

Benson isn’t alone: Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Bergen), one of Christie’s favorite whipping boys, is running virtually the same web ad in the 38th District. The online ads for Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) proclaim how he worked cooperatively with Christie to keep the Vineland Developmental Center from closing.

Even [state Sen. Linda] Greenstein’s latest web ads stress bipartisanship and public service, and do not mention Christie’s opponent, Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex), at all — even though Greenstein has campaigned alongside Buono more than almost any Democrat.

It’s Chris Christie’s state; everybody else is just running in it.

Tags: Chris Christie , New Jersey

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