Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Christie's Fat Tuesday Result Leaves His Campaign In Ashes

Those of us in New Jersey knew that this day would come, and it's really best for the country that Chris Christie has ended his presidential bid. The governor does not have the personality to be a thoughtful, caring, empathetic leader and there's some poetic justice in the fact that he lost mainly because Donald Trump won. Christie always thought that he was going to be the wise-cracking loudmouth in the race, but Donald upset that cart with his first campaign utterances last spring. Add in the terrible job Christie has done with the economy, his utterly disgraceful YouTube rants and his poisonous attitude towards public workers and anyone who disagrees with him, and you have the recipe for...well, what just happened.

What struck me about Christie is that he didn't seem to have a moral compass when it came to running for office. He would say anything, even contradict himself if it served his goals. His charge to the right on many issues left New Jersey in seriously bad shape. He vetoed a train tunnel that the state and region desperately needed, refused to raise the gas tax to pay for our potted roads, and slashed budgets for social services that many state residents needed to survive after the financial crisis hit. He did make his name during the aftermath of Sandy, but even that has been overshadowed by the number of people who still don't have their homes back.

Christie will now come back and be the governor, for at least a while. I wouldn't be surprised if he left at some point because what's he really got to work for now? His legacy? Another run in 2020? He can be a FOX News host or lobby for a radio program, but I can see him getting very bored and frustrated by an emboldened Democratic majority that will savage him during the 2017 election, and the state GOP that is furious with him for abandoning them during the Assembly elections in 2015. The man has no coattails. He doesn't even appear to have much of a coat.

I'm thinking that the biggest beneficiary of Christie's supporters will be John Kasich as he tries to navigate the rather unfriendly South Carolina political landscape. Perhaps Carly Fiorina's backers will go with Kasich too. Or maybe I'm just a dreamer and they'll all go to Trump because he's such a peachy guy. The campaign moves on.

Chris Christie goes home.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Very Late New Hampshire Primary Predictions

Here's how it will go down:

GOP

Trump--28%
Kasich--20% (upset special)
Rubio--17%
Bush--13%
Cruz--11%
Christie--8%
Fiorina--2%
Carson--1%

Democrats

Sanders--54%
Clinton--46%

There's a real possibility that nobody on the GOP side drops out, but I think that Fiorina is the likliest.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Christie's Last Stand

It's too late to say it with any meaningful conviction now, but Chris Christie should have run for president when the Republican Party and Nancy Reagan were imploring him to do so in the late fall of 2011. He was the guy, the shining star, six months removed from pounding out a public worker pension and benefits bill that would be his most lasting achievement. The stars were aligned, and let's face it; that doesn't happen twice.

Then came his insatiable desire to win the biggest landslide in New Jersey history which led to the George Washington Bridge scandal which occurred at the same time that New Jersey's economy was doing bupkis and the governor was actively running away from his signature accomplishment, then asked the NJ Supreme Court to rule his pension and benefits bill unconstitutional so he wouldn't have to make a full pension payment. This is not at all presidential and, to their credit, most of the national Republican electorate has rejected Christie's message, such as it is, his bluster, and his insufferable swaying back and forth on the issues. Of course, that same Republican electorate seems to have fallen for the political alchemy that Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are pandering, so that means the voters are batting .500.

Last night's debate was really and truly Chris Christie's final chance to turn an aggregate 5% polling average into a stunning political comeback. He yelled mightily at Marco Rubio and continued to tout his aggressive style of governance, which is exactly what the country doesn't need. He was angry at the weather when it forced him to leave the campaign trail in January and understands that he needs to finish way ahead of Jeb Bush and John Kasich in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.

I don't see it happening.

Christie can blame Donald Trump for most of the damage done to his campaign. Christie was all set to be the loudmouth truth-teller, but even he couldn't have foreseen Trump's being able to say whatever was on his mind and watch his poll numbers rise. When terrorism reared its ugly head in November, Christie's numbers rose too, but ultimately there were just too many other candidates for him to leapfrog in the standings. If Christie can somehow finish in the top three or four with double-digit number next to his name, then maybe he can move on to South Carolin and Nevada and get squashed there.

But then what? Christie says that he's going to come back to New Jersey to finish out his term, but he will return to a very different political landscape. He won't be able to be the dominant force in Trenton that he would like, and will find that many GOP legislators will defy him if it's in their political interests. And it will be. The Democrats can smell a victory in 2017 and will do all they can to get a supermajority in both the Assembly and the Senate. Further, those Republicans who voted against Christie when bills would come up for votes, but then vote to uphold Christie's vetoes, will not always do so in the future.

On the flip side, Christie will not need to be so conservative if he returns, so maybe we can get some common sense laws on firearms, school financing, health care and transportation. In the end, it will be up to the Governor and what he wants to see as his legacy.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest