Monday, October 03, 2011
By Alan Caruba
Does anybody recall the frenzy surrounding the question of whether Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and Fox News host of his own show, would toss his hat in the ring and seek the GOP nomination?
That same frenzy is occurring now regarding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and, as a lifelong citizen of the Garden State, I would bet a bushel basket of its excellent tomatoes that he will not.
Why? Because he says he will not and I believe him.
There are, however, a lot of other very good reasons why he won't plunge into the political maelstrom that is our system of selecting a presidential candidate.
If Gov. Christie were to announce as a candidate for the GOP nomination his brief record while Governor would come under intense examination and it would reveal that he is not the conservative savior that many perceive.
Putting aside his great rhetorical gifts, his no-nonsense approach to answering questions in town hall meetings and interviews, his saving sense of humor, and other attributes that have generated the appeals from some party insiders and members of the public, Christie is conservative-light.
Candidate Herman Cain, speaking on Fox News Sunday, has done his homework. According to an October 3 article in the Star-Ledger, New Jersey's largest circulation daily newspaper, Cain noted that "Christie is far too liberal on gun control, climate change, same-sex unions, and immigration to satisfy Republican voters."
Nor has his record as Governor gone unnoticed on the left. "Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland blasted Christie's stewardship of New Jersey's economy. He cited the state's unemployment rate, among the highest in the country at 9.4 percent, and a series of downgrades to New Jersey's bond ratings this year from the top credit rating agencies."
None of these economic factors, unfairly attributed to Gov. Christie or not, bodes well for a run for the presidential candidate nomination. When one adds in the lateness of such an effort and the difficulties of raising huge sums of money for the campaign it suggests that such a move would not turn out well for him.
There is no question that Gov. Christie, a former U.S. District Attorney for New Jersey, has earned the gratitude of the state's citizens for taking on the civil service unions that have bled it dry with cushy contracts featuring handsome pension and healthcare plans. Beyond that, however, many Garden State conservatives have winced to see his decisions in other areas of concern.
Many applauded his decision to withdraw the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative that would have required that a percentage of energy serving New Jerseyeans come from "renewable" sources, wind and solar power. However, in August Gov. Christie signed an act that would facilitate offshore wind power for use in the state. Had he signed an act to permit offshore drilling for oil and natural gas, the state and the nation would have been far better served. Wind power would only increase the cost of electricity.
Moreover, Gov. Christie is on record saying that climate change is "impacting our state." This is a position that is 180 degrees from a town hall meeting the previous year when he declared himself skeptical that climate change is the result of human activity. He was right then, but has been getting very bad advice from his science advisors since then.
As a former U.S. District Attorney, it should come as no surprise that he supports a ban on assault weapons. Despite opposing a law that limits the purchase of hand guns to one per month, his newly appointed state Attorney General took an aggressive legal position to defend the former governor's law. Gov. Christie favors gun control, a position that will not find favor among lawful gun owners and sportsmen.
Gov. Christie is squishy on the issue of illegal immigration, hewing to the liberal line that those who enter the nation illegally are simply "undocumented." He regards state-by-state laws regarding illegal immigrants to be "a federal problem" that needs a "federal fix…I am not really comfortable with state enforcement having a big role." Suffice to say that New Jersey, like other states, has a big illegal immigrant population.
If the Governor were to hit the campaign trail with a record like this, the other candidates would have a field day and many conservative voters would have second thoughts.
In sum, he needs to review and reinforce his conservative credentials and the 2012 race is far too soon to do that. Selfishly, I want him to remain the Governor and to serve a second term. Realistically, I think he would be torn to shreds if he got in now.
South Orange, NJ