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Why Do Democrats, Especially Jersey Democrats, Like Chris Christie So Much?

New Jersey is a fairly blue state.  In the past election, NJ voted to re-elect Obama by a comfortable margin (58.3 % - 40.6%).  However, according to all early polls, Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, is expected to win by a landslide against Democratic challenger Barbara Buono.   National polls, also, indicate that Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents have taken a liking to Christie.  A PPP poll from yesterday found that Obama voters (42/24) like him better than Romney voters (36/31) do.  He gets praise lavished upon him in the media, both by news hosts and talk show hosts.  However, the praise rarely addresses his actual record as governor, which offers little to embrace with such open arms. Let's take a look at his record so far.

Chris Christie has repeatedly vetoed funding for Planned Parenthood.

Chris Christie has vetoed marriage equality legislation.

Chris Christie pulled Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

He is a strong proponent of voucherizing the school system to siphon away money from public schools and slashing funding for public schools, and he regularly vilifies teacher' unions.   He also gets his education ideas from ALEC.

Chris Christie is a strong advocate of corporate welfare, who doles out subsidies even when the companies fail to create the jobs they promised.  Of his Urban Transit Hub Tax Program, the New York Times noted,

"Under the program, the Christie administration has granted more than $900 million in state tax credits over 10 years to 15 companies, including Panasonic, Goya, Prudential and Campbell’s Soup. The companies have promised to add 2,364 jobs, or $387,537 in tax credits per job, over the next decade. "
What efficiency!  As the article further elaborates, NJ has only recovered 20% of the jobs lost in the Great Recession--compared to 80% in its neighbor to the north, New York.  New Jersey currently has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Even though Jersey can dole out this cash in corporate subsidies, Christie still claims not to have enough money to provide public workers with the pensions and health care benefits they've earned.

We also know that Christie and the Koch brothers are good friends.

I vaguely remember a video of Chris Christie yelling at someone going viral among conservatives a few years ago because Christie purportedly battered his opponent with a summary of the Republican ethic of "personal responsibility" in a way that made right-wingers giddy.  (He has many videos of himself yelling at people, so this would likely prove difficult to find.)

Despite all that, he remains popular among Democrats.  Some probably like him because of his 'bromance' with Obama after Hurricane Sandy or the fact that he criticized Republicans for blocking Sandy relief funds.  Working with the federal government on disaster relief should be neither liberal nor conservative: it is simply doing your job as governor.  When Chris Christie criticized House Republicans, he made sure to highlight that Jersey gives more to the federal government than it gets back.  One wonders how much Governor Chris Christie would have supported federal relief funds from one of the less affluent states.

Maybe his support stems from people's tendency to equate brash and obnoxious with "relatable" although that would be rather depressing.

In some ways, the Democratic fondness of Chris Christie reminds me of the embrace of Jon Huntsman, whose campaign platform was actually very conservative.  They both have managed--in large part because of media fawning--to cultivate an image of moderation while largely belying that in practice.  Chris Christie and Jon Huntsman may count as "moderates" in a Republican Party that has drifted as far to the right as it had, but that hardly makes them "moderates" overall.

9:27 PM PT: Thank you to Upper West for reminding me about Chris Christie's nixing of the Tunnel Project, which would have created two new real passages between New York City and New Jersey and would have thus brought economic and environmental benefits to the region.  You can read more here:

I also forgot to note Chris Christie's support for and connection to the corrupt system of privatized halfway houses, a story which the New York Times covered last summer.  You can read more about that here:

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Comment Preferences

  •  FINALLY (22+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much for posting this! I LOVE THIS DIARY!  Why are Democrats supporting this guy? Another question why AREN'T progressives rallying behind Senator Barbara Buono?She is a true supporter of public education, she stood against Republican and Democrats who voted against unions in support of Christie's pension and benefit reform. I am presently working for her campaign and will do anything to get this woman elected. She is a true progressive and Kossacks should be rallying around her and trying to build support for her. This diary is long overdue. Christie is NO moderate and will take the sharpest right turn in political history if he wins re-election.

    " The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"-Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Lh1695 on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 06:00:12 PM PDT

    •  But do you know what Buono stands for? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I like her as a person, but when you talk to her it's hard to get a sense of what she really stands for, it's mostly about how awful Christie is and how hard she worked to get noticed as a viable political force in NJ. (She's also fairly anti-union.) Not a lot of there, there. Nice, though, and probably not corrupt, for what that's worth.

      •  Not to say that Christie isn't dreadful (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        where4art, JeffW

        On so very many levels. . .

        Just saying that, one-on-one, Buono has a hard time making a positive case unless you hear Christie snarling in the background.

      •  Buono Anti-union? (0+ / 0-)

        Hello? Where are you getting that from? She was removed from her leadership position(by sellout Democrats) in the Nj Senate for siding with the unions in the Christie pension and benefit reform package. She is more progressive and a better Democrat than Sweeney, Oliver or Booker. She is one of the only Democrats in NJ fighting against the privatization of public schools. On what grounds are you basing this anti-union thing?

        " The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"-Eleanor Roosevelt

        by Lh1695 on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 03:45:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  For one brief moment... (13+ / 0-)

    ...Moby Chris did his job.

    Problem is, up to that point, he wasn't...

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 06:01:40 PM PDT

  •  The "corporate welfare" link goes to an (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tharu1, psnyder, elwior, Mannie

    interview with Diane Sawyer about teachers and Trump. I'd like to read about the corporate welfare if you could provide the link.

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 06:13:41 PM PDT

  •  Excellent diary! I will share far & wide (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    viral, blueoasis, JeffW, elwior, Mannie, randallt

    Because I wondered the same thing. Maybe people just don't look beneath the surface?

    "...Males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.” —Newt Gingrich in 1995

    by BadKitties on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 06:31:08 PM PDT

  •  We've been here before (12+ / 0-)

    Christine Whitman, the Republican governor of NJ from 1993-2001, was always held up as politically invincible by the national media, just as is the case now.

    It turns out that Whitman (who ran in 1993 just as the national 1994 wave was beginning to build) won by something on the order of 25,000 votes against an incumbent (Jim Florio) whose ratings had hit the single digits at one point during his term.  It turns out that the Republicans had spent "walking around money" (it's New Jersey so it's legal) to convince African-American ministers to tell their congregations not to vote.  It is unknown whether this threw the election or not.

    Well, anyhow, notwithstanding her narrow squeaker of a money-bag lubricated victory, Whitman, who had discarded her pro-life and anti-gay social ideology (the only way she had a prayer of winning) and as such was crowned a moderate and a reformer.  In fact, the Whitman administration wrote the book on pay to play (an impressive accomplishment in NJ, where both parties are extremely good at it).

    So four years later, with the 1990's financial services driven expansion and the beginnings of the internet boom (telecomm is a big industry in NJ) driving a strong economy, and her tax cuts in place, Whitman was presumed by the same network executives to be a shoo in.  The Democratic primary was between four political unknowns.  The winner was one Jim McGreevey, the mayor of Woodbridge, who was promptly left for dead by the MSM.

    Well, McGreevey also held Whitman, an allegedly popular, moderate incumbent, to 25,000 votes; had the race been more seriously contested, he would have been elected in 1997 instead of 2001.  Oh, yes.  Whitman was the most pro-GLBT Republican in America in the 1990s, and McGreevey (who was reluctant to deal with the issue until he was outed in 2004) had a relatively unimpressive record for a NJ Democrat.  That probably let her hold onto some gay Republicans and their friends and family.  Needless to say, her victory (just over recount margin) killed her political career.  (And McGreevey was the overwhelming favorite for 2001, an election that he won rather handily.  The rest is history.)

    There is some evidence that history is repeating itself.  You have a guy (Christie) promoted by the Very Serious People running against an unpopular incumbent in the middle of a downturn when the election is a precursor to a national wave election.  Somehow, the weak incumbent (Corzine) manages to outperform expectations (and it was all Corzine; the Democrats actually gained a seat or two in the legislature).  The MSM continues to promote him as a centrist, and his embrace of Obama helps cement that image.  Like Whitman, he has high favorability ratings driven by standing on a sand dune with Obama.  This might get him re-elected (especially if the R's in the legislature bail him out by overriding his marriage equality veto, something becoming increasingly possible).

  •  It's simple. People in NJ have high property taxes (10+ / 0-)

    which they blame on the NJEA, whom Christie spent a lot of time attacking. His polling showed when he attacked teachers, it was popular. under him, teachers have had tenure all but eliminated and have had a punishing, top heavy evaluation system thrust on them. They will not effectively get real raises for years to come, and will pay far more for worse health insurance. Their age of retirement was increased, as were their pension contributions. Democratic leaders and power brokers such as Norcross wanted all this done, but knew a Dem governor would never do it, so they backed Christie's reforms. The result? Mass teacher layoffs, forced early retirements, more privitization, and even higher property taxes! So almost no one has benefitted from his reforms, but a lot of people have been hurt. He also has free all positive PR on NJ 101.5 FM, the trenton press, the APP, the Ledger, and MSNBC and WWOR 71 am, and from the drunk on WABC 77 am every morning.. the guy has not done one fucking thing for the good of NJ yet.

  •  we're lovers, not fighters (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Whenever anybody says or does something we like, we're all over them, especially if they're otherwise one of the bad guys.

    "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."

    •  Amazing how effective standing on a sand dune (0+ / 0-)

      looking tough can influence peoples perception of  a politician.

      "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance."
      Good choice of quote, too.  

      Time is a long river.

      by phonegery on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 11:29:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  perception is everything in politics (0+ / 0-)

        and people are hard-wired to respond positively to this kind of alpha male posturing.

        Everybody likes a bad boy gone straight; they see it as the best of both worlds: strength and attitude turned to the side of good.  Nobody likes the goody two-shoes and nobody believes he could be some secret Droopy Dog ass-kicker.

  •  Christie and Huntsman . . . (6+ / 0-)
    Democratic fondness of Chris Christie reminds me of the embrace of Jon Huntsman
    Well, they have something in common: they aren't stupid, and they aren't willing to pretend to be so, even to humour their base. This sets them apart from the rest of the GOP pols, for whom either a room-temperature IQ, or the ability to convincingly fake one, is a given.

    Obviously, this doesn't mean that their policies are progressive, or that they are "on our side" in the ways that really matter.

    Still, when you've been dealing too long with clowns and fools, sometimes an intelligent enemy can be a relief.

  •  DON'T FORGET THE TUNNEL (6+ / 0-)

    Christie's killing the tunnel should be enough to consign him to obscurity forever.  It was a crime against future generations of people in NJ and NY, for short term political gain or stupid ideology.

    In one act he condemned tens of thousands to pollution illness and wasted months of people's time sitting in cars belching noxious fumes on the Jersey Turnpike.

    Fuck him for that, the bloated bully.

    The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

    by Upper West on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 07:57:06 PM PDT

  •  I agree that we shouldn't embrace him as (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the Second Coming, but at least he doesn't oppose everything just because a Democrat is for it. He seemed fairly reasonable, not progressive, but reasonable during Superstorm Sandy and was polite to President Obama unlike Arizona Jan Brewer who has been positively rude to the President at times.

    Compared to most in the GOP, especially the Teahaddist wing he appears sane. It's a novelty. He can be a royal pain in the a$$ on many issues though.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 08:16:03 PM PDT

    •  wow (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lily O Lady, Mostel26

      with all due respect you have got to be kidding me? I live in NJ and if you think that Christie is not going to turn on BO the day after his re-election, I have to assume you must not live in NJ. Christie is far from reasonable he is shrewd and calculating, He was willing to throw Romney under the bus for his own political gain, and if you believe anything different, I have a bridge to sell you or a pun intended. This Governor is an absolute threat to NJ's public schools, the negative impact he has had on my children's education is frightening. Wake up Democrats. This is yet another example of how Republicans embracing such extremes is pulling everyone more to the center, even Kossacks.

      " The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"-Eleanor Roosevelt

      by Lh1695 on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 03:06:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hope none of them need special ed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lh1695, Lily O Lady

        because drastic cuts are coming, including the elimination of real case management and the outsourcing of child study teams. these aren't required by federal law, but theyy havebeen are huge part of the reason special ed is frankly superior in NJ. Sadly only one state board member questioned Barbara Gantwerk during thehearings, who is a career state dept hack whose last accomplishment was the requirement that school cafeterias be self sufficient; district could not use money fro state aid to retain workers. The result? most food services are outsourced now to private companies. And the food sucks.

      •  I'm not saying he's not unscrupulous, I'm (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        saying that he's not Teahaddist crazy. I do think that makes him formidable which does worry me. It's his air of reasonableness that makes him dangerous.

        I hope that a Democrat can take the governor's office back and make things better for the people of New Jersey.

        "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

        by Lily O Lady on Fri Apr 05, 2013 at 08:33:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  As a NJ Dem, here's my take (0+ / 0-)

    I moved here from Delaware, where politics - compared to a lot of places - is largely clean and above board.  Everyone here in NJ knows full well that governance in this state is a jungle, maybe a cesspool, of competing power blocs, with way too much own-nest-feathering.  And they see the result in the form of too little effective government despite an onerous tax burden.  Christie is a smart guy and plays the politics of this state far, far better than did Corzine.  He has managed to convey an impression of an honest broker, albeit a very conservative one, who understands all the games that are being played.  And despite his conservatism, he's not a right wing nut job.  So, while I'm not sure that NJ Dems admire the guy, the answer to the diarist's lead question is that Christie has tapped into a hunger for a kind of political leadership that Dems should have been providing in a more intelligent way, but failed.

  •  don't underestimate the power of charm (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Urizen, blueoasis, AnnieR, phonegery

    I dislike Chris Christie as much as anyone, but it is wrong to ignore the power that he has to charm people.

    Everyone in New Jersey has laughed at one or more of the quick witted comments that Chris Christie has made over the years.  Whether he is zinging someone for calling him fat, or comparing his governorship to gambling in the casinos, he should not be underestimated.

    My suggestion for running against him is to use his strength against him.

    Point out his charm and say "Chris Christie is a very nice man, but he is on the wrong team."  

    I see an advertisement comparing Archie Manning with Eli Manning, and one comparing the governor with his democratic opponent.

    •  I grew up in NJ (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      AnnieR, phonegery

      and I still know a few people there.  One guy I know (ardent dem) coached in little league with him and said he was great guy that you couldn't help but like (not that he voted for the "obese windbag").

      I think we sometime ignore to our detriment the importance of personality in general elections.  Not many people want to vote for people who are hard to like (such as Gore and/or Kerry vs. the more 'personable' Shrub).

      I also think the voters of NJ are smart enough to make sure no single person/party ever consolidates a lot of power --that keeps the corruption within manageable limits.

    •  I am in NJ and knkow lots of people who (2+ / 0-)

      have not been laughing. we are frankly horrified by this man.

      •  I'm not laughing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm completely flabbergasted that anyone could find him charming.  I am actually ashamed of myself when I find myself thinking negative things about his being fat, but I think it's because his size acts metaphorically to echo his greed and overblown anger.  He looks like an antiTrust cartoon.  Nope.  I see nothing charming, and some shortsighted choices,  all bubbled over a raging fire of disrespect.  He's done one thing right--cooperate with anyone who's willing to help NJ.  Well, bully for him, but I'd do the same thing.

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