NJ Republicans Struggle While Christie's Popularity Soars

Image: NJ Republicans Struggle While Christie's Popularity Soars

Friday, 18 Oct 2013 03:18 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Opinion polls show New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is leading in his race for re-election by a 2-to-1 margin, but his fellow Republicans may not take control of the legislature. And, USA Today reports, the potential 2016 presidential candidate, may not want them to.
 
Presenting himself as a leader who can work with Democrats in the legislature and as a Republican who can win Blue State voters could give him more political mileage if he runs for president, the newspaper reported Thursday.
 
Christie is on track to be the first Republican to win more than 50 percent of votes cast in New Jersey since 1985. His popularity may be tied to the fact that he repeatedly stresses the idea of bipartisanship over divisive politics.
 
"Everything we've done has been a bipartisan accomplishment," the governor says in a television campaign ad. "As long as you stick to your principles, compromise isn't a dirty word."
 
Democrats have been in charge of both chambers of the state legislature since 2003. All 120 seats are up for re-election this year, and Republicans need to pick up five seats in the Senate and nine in the Assembly to take over control.
 
Some have complained that Christie hasn't done enough campaigning on behalf of his own party candidates. But redistricting in the state favors Democrats, according to Carl Golden, spokesman for former Republican Gov. Thomas Kean.
 
"He has not been out there going district to district, at least in those districts that might be considered competitive and there are . . . few of those," Golden said of Christie. "His absence is notable."
 
Also notable is the fact that the Republican governor has been endorsed by several key Democrats and more than 50 Democratic elected officials statewide, which makes Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono's campaign against Christie a monumental battle.
 
Even Democrats running for re-election are quick to point out how they worked with Christie, including Newark Mayor and Senator-Elect Cory Booker, who defeated challenger Steve Lonegan this week in a special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
 
Christie's decision to hold the Senate special election three weeks before the regularly scheduled state election on Nov. 5 may also have helped put Booker into office, some political observers note.
 
Had both elections been held on the same day, Lonegan may have gotten extra votes from the Republicans turning out to support Christie.
 
Should he decide to run for president, having a Democratic-controlled legislature could also be used by Christie as scapegoat for some of his failed initiatives, reports USA Today. For example, he has not been able to push through a proposed cut in income taxes. He has also had difficulty getting his Supreme Court nominees confirmed. But a landslide victory, as predicted with both Republican and Democratic voters supporting his re-election, could help right some of those failures.
 
Christie has not said whether he plans to run for president. In a recent debate with Buono he said he does not believe "anybody in America, or in the state of New Jersey, expects anybody three years away to tell them what they're going to do." 
 
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