Rob Tornoe, 8/13/2015 [Archive]

Chris Christie: The Absentee Governor

By Rob Tornoe

Has Chris Christie given up?

No, I'm not talking about his doomed presidential run, where the RealClearPolitics average has him in ninth place at 3.6 percent and a new post-debate poll in must-win New Hampshire puts him in ninth place.

I'm talking about his supposed day job, being governor of New Jersey.

So far this year, Christie has spent nearly 55 percent of his time outside the Garden State. In the past six weeks alone, he's been out of the office about two-thirds of the time. He's out of the state so often, WNYC has a "Christie Tracker" that shows if the governor is or isn't in the state at any given moment (as of this writing, he is).

Unfortunately his constituents, who had high hopes for the former prosecutor following a disappointing four years under Jon "I lost $2 billion" Corzine, have begun to notice the time away. Not only has Christie's job approval rating in the state he governs has fallen to record lows, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton poll, a majority of New Jerseyans think he should resign.

The more and more Christie speaks, he sounds less like the chief executive of a state and more like an uninterested partner in a failing marriage. Last month, when reporters asked the governor why he hasn't held one of his trademark town-hall meetings in New Jersey in nearly two months, Christie (who still has three years left in his second term) said, "I got tired of it. I'll just be honest with you: I got tired of it. So I didn't do it."

Sorry New Jersey, but that doesn't sound like a guy trying to save a relationship.

In all fairness, Christie wouldn't be the first governor to get slammed about the time he's spending out of state campaigning. Michael Dukakis, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Mitt Romney - all ran for president as sitting governors and faced heated criticism about the amount of time they spent campaigning.

But he is the "Telling it like it is" candidate, and so far, his response to any criticism of his time away from New Jersey has been, "I can walk and chew gum at the same time." Unfortunately his performance as the state's chief executive might call that statement into question, as it has become increasing clear Christie's top policy concern is propping up his lifeless presidential campaign at the cost of New Jerseyans.

When asked about the state's lagging unemployment rate, underfunded public-employee pension system and series of credit-rating downgrades, Christie passes the buck, joking that "If you think it's bad now, you should have seen it when I got there." To paraphrase republicans, he's been governor for over five years, and he's still blaming Corzine?

Christie's economy is getting worse, not better. Despite a drop in the unemployment rate, New Jersey actually lost 7,400 jobs in June, with 5,700 of those coming from Christie's much-heralded private sector. This while he makes aspirational promises to grow the nation's economy by an astounding 4 percent annually, which it hasn't done consistently since the 1950s and 1960s.

Then there's Atlantic City, the crown jewel of Christie's failed policies, which idles as the governor continues to leave a package of bills addressing the resort town's crisis untouched. Maybe the problem is they've been collecting dust on his unused desk since June. Can someone email him a copy?

Meanwhile, New Jersey taxpayers are footing the bill for Christie's security detail. Unfortunately, no one know how much it's costing the state since Mr. "Telling It Like It Is" has fought in court to keep it secret behind the absurd claim it could put him at risk. Concerns for his safety didn't stop him from telling Cub Scout Charlie Tertaglia the number of state troopers assigned to the unit protecting him while he travels.

"He's not doing the state any good by spending the bulk of his time out of state," said State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, a common foe of Christie who happens to be 100 percent right. "And even when he's in-state, he's focusing on what he has to do to get elected president — which is often runs contrary to what he ought to do for the state."

Should politicians resign to run for higher office? Probably, but you'd have an easier time convincing Christie to stay at a Holiday Inn than getting politicians to actually live up to their responsibilities to taxpayers.

——

©Copyright 2015 Rob Tornoe, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Rob Tornoe is an award-winning political cartoonist and syndicated columnist. Rob can be reached at RobTornoe@gmail.com.

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