Notwithstanding Governor Chris Christie’s current standing in the polls, the events of the first six months of 2011 appear to have actually enhanced his reelection prospects. He will be able to run for reelection in 2013 as a Governor who finally succeeded in controlling property tax increases, facing a weak Democratic opponent emerging from a fratricidal primary.
There are two reasons for this conclusion. First, the early evidence shows a good likelihood that during the years 2012 and election year 2013, the rate of property tax increase in the state will be stabilized at less than two per cent, an historic low. Second, in the aftermath of the pension and health benefit battles, the Democratic Party in New Jersey is more bitterly divided than at any other point over the past fifty years.
The school district budgets presented for voter approval in 2011 mostly were under the two per cent increase cap which the Governor succeeded in enacting in 2010. The newly enacted pension and health benefit reforms will result in municipal employees paying a greater share of these costs and thus decreasing the amounts municipalities have to pay. Accordingly, the great majority of municipalities and school districts will be able to keep their budget increases – and thus their property tax increases – below the Christie two per cent cap in 2012 and 2013.
This is very good news for Chris Christie. Property tax is THE overriding issue in contemporary New Jersey politics. Voters contacted in recent New Jersey public opinion polls have not yet seen the benefit to their property tax status from Christie’s two per cent cap and health and pension benefit reforms. They will by election year 2013.
When Christie runs for reelection in 2013, he will face a Democratic Party which is experiencing an internecine war for its very soul. The public employee and teachers unions certainly do not have the power they once had. They still, however, do carry clout within the Democratic Party, and they have sworn revenge against George Norcross, Joe DiVincenzo, the Adubatos, Steve Sweeney, and Sheila Oliver.
Over the last fifty years, the Republicans have been the party which experienced ruinous internal gubernatorial primaries: e.g.; the Cahill-Sandman battle of 1973 and the DiFrancesco/Franks-Schundler political duel of 2001. In 2013, the Democratic Party will at long last experience civil war. Their leading marquee name candidate and best election prospect, Cory Booker, will not run, opting instead to run for the United States Senate in 2014.
The Democratic nomination for governor in 2013 will not be worth much, and its winner will have won a Pyrrhic victory. By contrast, the Man from Mendham will be able to run for reelection with visible property tax success and a unified party behind him. The Christie-Guadagno team will be reelected.
That leaves open the question that is the fixation of both national and state media: Will Chris Christie, either in 2012 or in some year thereafter, be a candidate for President of the United States?
I do believe that Chris Christie will run for the Presidency – but not until the year 2020, and under a far different scenario than anybody else has envisaged.
Keep in mind that Christie is only presently 48 years old, and he will not attain the age of 70 until September, 2032. So he has plenty of years left in which he could conceivably make a run for the White House.
There is no doubt in my mind that Christie will not be a candidate for President or Vice President in 2012. Whether you love or hate Chris Christie, candor is his strong suit, and when he says he will not be a candidate, I fully accept his answer.
The Vice Presidency is not a job for Christie, and accordingly, he would turn down the nomination. As Nelson Rockefeller once said of himself, Chris Christie is not designed to be standby equipment. I cannot imagine that he would be happy in a job where his major tasks would be to read the daily reports on the President’s health and attend funerals and ribbon cuttings on his behalf. Chris Christie is no Alexander Throttlebottom.
I do believe, however, that given the poor prospects ahead for the American economy, the Republican presidential candidate, whoever he or she may be, will defeat Barack Obama in the 2012 election. The new Republican president will definitely ask Chris Christie to become the next Attorney General of the United States.
Chris Christie would be a superb Attorney General. He was the best U.S. Attorney of his era. The new Republican president will implore Christie to take the position.
Christie, however, will turn down the offer of the new president. He wants a second term as governor in order that he may complete his reform agenda and revive New Jersey’s economy.
Yet the job as Attorney General of the United States will not run away from Chris Christie. If the new Republican president is reelected in 2016, he or she will again ask Chris Christie to become the Attorney General of the United States. This time, with Christie only having one year remaining in his second term, he may well accept it.
If Chris Christie becomes the Attorney General of the United States in 2017, he will be a figure of high visibility and prominence throughout the nation. He will be enormously successful as Attorney General, just as he was as U.S. Attorney for New Jersey
Christie will then become a major attraction for GOP leaders looking for a strong candidate for the Presidency in 2020. He would have an excellent chance for the 2020 GOP Presidential nomination.
How’s this for a future scenario: Republican Chris Christie versus Democrat Andrew Cuomo for the Presidency in 2020? It could happen – you read it here first!
Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Region 2 EPA consists of the states of New York and New Jersey, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight federally recognized Indian nations. Under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, he served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. He currently serves on the political science faculty of Monmouth University.