Gov. Chris Christie’s decision today not to pursue an appeal in the same-sex marriage case reinforced his image as an executive pragmatist, even if it means infuriating the rightward reaches of his own party, according to Monmouth University Political Scientist Patrick Murray.
It all started with the Obama bear hug, which Christie would never be able to overcome with those betrayed forces of the right anyway, Murray said.
“After that I think the sense internally was Christie could do anything and it would still be overshadowed by the Obama hug,” said Murray, referring to the Hurricane Sandy walks the Democratic President took in New Jersey just days before a federal election.
“They (Team Christie) made a decision after that to fight the fight when it makes sense, and when it doesn’t make sense they will cut their losses,” Murray said.
This issue amplifies the same middle of the ground mind set the GOP governor undertook with the libertarian Rand Paul this summer in his defense of the Patriot Act.
The gay marriage veto and subsequent court case appeased the right. “But at the end of the day, with the Supreme Court ruling, Christie by withdrawing the appeal is saying ‘I’m the guy who can be governor with folks on both sides of the aisle while still holding onto my principles.’
“There are times when he will push, like he did with the gun clip bill he vetoed,” the political scientist added. “But he’s walked that fine line. If he gives in to the Supreme Court there is no loss to his 2016 campaign because the right wing voters in the early caucuses and primaries had already written him off.”