New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Born: September 6, 1962 (age 47), Newark, New Jersey
Spouse(s): Mary Pat Christie
Children : Andrew, Sarah, Patrick, and Bridget.
Residence : Mendham Township, New Jersey
Alma mater: University of Delaware, Seton Hall Law School
Religion: Roman Catholic
Political Career :
- 1994 elected to the Morris County, New Jersey, Board of Chosen Freeholders, with Christie after defeating a Republican incumbent freeholders in the party primary.
- 1995, ran a primary challenge to incumbent Republicans for the New Jersey General Assembly and was defeated.
- 1997 Christie was defeated in a primary challenge for renomination to the Board of Chosen Freeholders primary.
- In 1998 Christie registered as a lobbyist for the firm of Dughi, Hewit & Palatucci, alongside his fellow law partner and later, gubernatorial campaign fundraiser Bill Palatucci.
- On December 7, 2001, Christie was nominated to be the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey. He was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on December 20, 2001, and sworn into office on January 17, 2002 and served as the chief federal law enforcement officer in New Jersey from until December 1, 2008. His office included 137 attorneys, with offices in Newark, Trenton and Camden. Christie also served as one of the 17 U.S. Attorneys on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ advisory committee.
Chris Christie is a surprise to many. Coming from very blue New Jersey you would expect him to be your typical Northeast Republican. But nothing could be further from the truth. Christie totally shatters the image of your liberal Northeastern Republican.
When he was a Freeholder he was a reformer and good government leader. He spearheaded successful efforts that made it mandatory for his county government to obtain three quotes from qualified firms before any contracts were signed. He also successfully barred county officials from accepting gifts from people and firms doing business with the county.
After his initial foray into elected politics, he was nominated to be the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on December 20, 2001. From the time of his January 17, 2002 swearing in ceremony, till his December 1, 2009 resignation, Christie won convictions and guilty pleas from 130 public officials, both Republican and Democratic, on the state, county and local levels and failed to ever lose a single case. During this time. he earned the image of a crime busting superhero who cleaned up New Jerseys streets and government. He was even involved in establishing investigations which recently busted several major terrorist plots in the U.S..
But it is as Governor that Christie seems to have blossomed into a conservative firebrand.
After defeating liberal incumbent Governor Jon Corzine in a campaign which Corzine connected himself to President Obama at the hip , Christie inherited a state with one of the largest budget shortfalls in the nation. After more than a decade of liberal Democrat Governors, the state was in the midst of a vicious cycle. As Democrats running for office promised unions and state employees lucrative pensions and agreed to exorbitant annual raises, the state was running out of money. The liberal answer to that was raising taxes and fees on everything from sales, income, corporate and property taxes to tolls and even a new tax on landscaping in our “Garden State” yards and for joining a gym .
The cycle ended up making New Jersey the highest taxed state in the nation and that in turn drove businesses out of its unfriendly and unprofitable business environment. And as they went, so did their jobs jobs. As unemployment continued to rise and businesses continued to flee, the state found itself consistently falling short of their projected tax revenues. So they raised them again and again and the cycle continued.
Well in one of his first major addresses as Governor Chris Christie started as follows:
We have the worst unemployment in the region and the highest taxes in America, and thats no coincidence. Is the way to fix that problem to make our taxes even higher? This has been their prescription for the last ten years and the job market in New Jersey is near death. You changed doctors in November for this very reason now it is time to change medicine, too. Off the temporary high that comes from higher taxes and greater spending. Back to the hard, difficult medicine of fiscal discipline, lower spending and less debt which in your heart you know will lead to the greater long term health of our state.
Since than, most New Jerseyans have been finding Chris Christie to be just what the doctor ordered.
In his first annual budget he stated;
I was not sent here to approve tax increases; I was sent here to veto them. And mark my words, if a tax increase is sent to my desk, I will veto it. It is time for the tax madness to end. The point is, we have tried that route. And it has failed. Previous administrations and legislatures have raised taxes 115 times in the last eight years alone. Raising taxes again on the people of New Jersey, the highest taxed citizens in the country, would be insane.
And then he proceeded to reduce the budgets of every single department of state government :
“Agriculture, down 24%; Banking, down 12%; Children and families, down 4%; Community affairs, down 35%; Corrections, down 7%; Environmental protection, down 2%; Education, down 8%; Health and senior services, down 6%; Human services, down 4%; Labor, down 6%; Law and public safety, down 7%; Military affairs, down 2%; The public advocate, down 25%. State, transportation and treasury, down 11, 3, and 39%, respectively.
But after slashing the beast of government bureaucracy, Christie grabbed the states third rail and attacked the unions that New Jersey has been held hostage to.
In no uncertain terms he accused them of setting up two classes of citizens in New Jersey those who enjoy rich public benefits and those who pay for them. But he did not stop there. He continued to give the states all powerful teachers union, a long overdue reality check and tongue lashing as he publicly put them on the spot;
Political muscle fueled by intimidation tactics, political bullying and smears of public officials who dare to disagree. This conduct has set up an unfair system. Is it fair to have any public employees getting 4-5% salary increases every year, even when inflation is zero %, paid for by citizens struggling to survive? It is fair to have New Jersey taxpayers foot the bill for 100% of the health insurance costs of teachers and their families from the day they are hired until the day they die? Is it fair that teachers have a better, richer health plan than even state workers and pay absolutely nothing for it?
The new Governor than explained:
$3 billion in savings results from recognizing that our pension system must be reformed before we can or should fund a broken, out of control system. The pension system has been so generous that it has created a flood of liabilities. From 2002 to 2008, pension payments to retirees grew 56%, triple the inflation rate. Our benefits are too rich, most public employees contribute too little, and the taxpayers have had enough enough of out of control pensions to public sector unions while they are losing their own jobs, enough of losing their homes, and then being told by the union bosses that they must pick up the tab for rich pensions at the same time.
Christie has only been in office for less than a year, but already New Jerseyans are feeling a certain amount of liberation take the place of the economic oppression that state government has been burdening them with at frightening rates. Many feel that they finally have a leader who is fighting for them, not the special interests who are not willing to make shared sacrifices. The results of Christies leadership have yet to be fully realized and he has more than three years left to make even more of a difference in the state but that has not stopped people from already realizing that in New Jersey a new breed of politician has emerged. A politician who is daring enough to bravely go where no politician has gone before in New Jersey.. a politician who is finally thinking and speaking like the people he was elected to govern and say and do what needs to be said and done.
It is not easy either. Chris Christie is a fiscally conservative Republican Governor of a state legislature that is controlled by Democrats in both houses. Yet in his first state budget, with cries of support from the people behind Christie and the demands of unions behind Democrats , Christie won out and Democrats were forced to pass his budget just before its deadline.
Christies predecessor, Democrat Jon Corzine couldnt even do that. In Corzine’s first state budget, his friendly, partisan Democrat controlled state senate and assembly could reach no agreements and as the Fourth of July weekend approached, New Jerseys state government was shut down. That wasnt a very good thing for a coastal state that relies heavily on beachgoers at state parks and beaches and the Atlantic City casinos which were forced to close during the government shut down.
As you can see, New Jersey is a tough state to govern. But Chris Christie is one tough politician. His politically unorthodox style of taking the issues to the people and tackling them bluntly and head on, has won him a great deal of credit and praise. But it is the combination of political courage and fiscal sanity that has made many heads turn nationally. The stark contrast between Christies attempt to solve problems by cutting the size of government and budgets versus President Obamas attempt to solve problems by increasing the size of government and budgets, combined with Christies civil but blunt approach to those who need to hear the word “no”, has turned Christie into a national novelty.
Still, even though being novel is not what makes for a good President, in a nation looking for an anti-Obama, Chris Christie fits the bill. However; 2012 might be too early for Chris Christie to run for President. He has himself stated that he will not run. He wants to accomplish what he set out to do last year in New Jersey. And there are many people in New Jersey who do not want to lose Christie right now. After getting a taste of fiscal liberation they dont want to give him up.
As it stands right now, I think the only way Chris Christie runs for the Republican nomination is if none of the other qualified candidates run and even then, only if there is a significant grassroots effort to recruit him for the job.
One thing is for though. Chris Christie is on the shortlist to be the vice presidential running mate of whoever the nominee finally proves to be. In fact, he is at the top of that list.
Coming from a relatively electoral rich state that no one is even thinking of possibly putting into play for Republicans, Christies influence as the number two man on a GOP presidential ticket, would be substantial and too good for any Republican who wants to be President to pass up.