Chris Christie: The GOP Establishment’s Meal Ticket

Last week former U.S. attorney Chris Christie announced he will seek the Republican nomination for governor. Christie becomes the fourth GOP candidate who wants to knock off Gov. Jon Corzine in the November election. Christie's long awaited entry into the race caused New Jersey's GOP bosses and others to go gaga, because they will have a candidate who will be their meal ticket during both the primary and general election, if he successfully disposes of Levine, Lonegan and Merkt and in the June face-off.

Chris Christie is in many ways this year's Anne Estabrook, the wealthy businesswomen who sought the GOP U.S. Senate nomination in 2008 and was self-financing her campaign, a bonanza for the political consultants who need a "deep pocket" candidate or one who could raise millions from the political establishment. Mrs. Estabrook had hired the GOP establishment's favorite operatives to run her bid to unseat Frank Lautenberg. When she dropped out of the race last March, the political establishment, i.e., the consultants and operatives, were left without a meal ticket and got Andy Unanue to hold a place in the primary until the party bosses could find an acceptable candidate who would hire the same team that was running Mrs. Estabrook's campaign. As the deadline was drawing near to replace Unanue, New Jersey state GOP chairman Tom Wilson literally begged former congressman and 1996 GOP U.S. Senate nominee Dick Zimmer to replace Unanue in early April. Zimmer agreed to replace Unanue stating that he is jumping in because he said he wanted to make a "difference." Zimmer was crushed by Frank Lautenberg in November after running one of the most invisible statewide campaigns in American political history.

In every election cycle the political consultants with ties to the New Jersey State Committee and/or many of the county bosses seek a candidate who will hire them or their cronies, because they simply need the work. In other words, the (expensive) consultancy class and the party bosses always get behind a candidate who will provide them with big bucks for their "expertise" and votes. Thus, the political establishment wants only one candidate in every statewide race, particularly the governor's race, because there is so much patronage at stake once "one" of their own occupies the governor's office.

There is no indication that Christie will dip into his pockets to finance his gubernatorial campaign. That means Christie will have to rely on the GOP establishment to raise the big bucks it will take to get his campaign off the ground immediately, especially since Steve Lonegan has raised nearly $400,000 and will have about one million dollars in the bank if the state approves his matching funds application.

In the meantime, the question GOP primary voters have to ask is: Why would Chris Christie give up the possibility of a lucrative-make that megabucks– law practice, now that his resume includes convictions of New Jersey's most notorious corrupt state and local officials? Why does Chris Christie think he can make a "difference," inasmuch as he has been a prosecutor for the past eight years? The answer is very simple. Inasmuch as the GOP establishment consultants and the party bosses smell a GOP gubernatorial victory in November, Christie's candidacy provides them with income both during the primary and general elections and the possibility of enormous patronage next year if Christie can go all the way.

Freedom, property rights, limited government? Fuggedaboutit. This is New Jersey. Money talks, not principles.

But why would Christie forgo millions of dollars in income over the next four years or more to be governor? Is he really super wealthy and thus he is willing to help Wilson, et. al., reap the big bucks that his candidacy and potential stint in the governor's office brings to the table? Or, is Chris Christie a super dedicated public servant who will do what is necessary to reduce the size and scope of state government so New Jersey can once again have a robust economy?

And, moreover, now that Chris Christie has gotten convictions for about 130 bad apples in public office, how much did New Jerseyans save in taxes? The answer is zero. The so-called corruption tax is a myth. The real corruption in New Jersey and around the country is systemic. More about that in a future column.

Chris Christie:  The GOP Establishment’s Meal Ticket