Gov.-elect Christopher Christie's first big move – putting Richard Bagger and Robert Grady in charge of the state budget transition team – is an impressive display of gravitas and seems to avoid some of the early mistakes made by his predecessor, Jon Corzine. Bagger and Grady offer an interesting contrast to Bradley Abelow and Gary Rose, two Goldman Sachs executives with no government or campaign experience, who were brought in by Corzine to run his economic shop. Christie has picked government insiders-turned-private sector outsiders who understand politics. Democrats complained about Abelow and Rose all the time, but never about Bagger.
Bagger, who spent nearly a dozen years in the Legislature, knows his way around the state budget; he chaired the Assembly Appropriations Committee for four years, and was well-liked and respected by legislators from both parties. He left the State Senate in after one year to move up within the Pfizer corporate structure, so he bears no responsibility for budgets passed by Democratic governors. He also understands local government; he was a Mayor and Councilman in Westfield before his election to the Assembly.
Grady is an expert on budget matters; he was the Associate Director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under President George H.W. Bush, and understands New Jersey politics – and the media – from his years as Gov. Thomas Kean's Communications Director and as Chief of Staff to U.S. Rep. Millicent Fenwick. He returns to New Jersey after spending more than fifteen years as a partner at the Carlyle Group, one of the nation's largest private equity firms.