Governor Christie’s pretty bad week

Governor Chris Christie, the wunderkind of the New Jersey GOP, hit a major pothole this past week. New Jersey’s application for the Race to the Top federal education money failed by a handful of points to get NJ into the program. The proximate cause – as trumpeted by his political opponents – was a “clerical error” that had wrong numbers in a critical part of the application. The end result – New Jersey failed to make the minimum number of point to qualify by 3 points out of 500 or so. At first, the governor blamed Washington and the Dept of Education. The DoE then turned around and released a video of the NJ team’s conference that contradicted Governor Christie’s version of events. Claiming that the NJ Education Secretary had mislead him, the Governor then sacked Secretary Bret Schundler. Bret Schundler is now claiming that he told Governor Christie the truth and that he had the emails to prove it. In the meantime, the NJ Democratically-controlled legislature is making political hay after having been battered and bruised by Gov. Christie for most of the year. And the story’s not over yet…

Will this matter in the long run, though? The governor’s lost a major fight already; the property tax cap battle ended with his desired goal, a referendum on a hard 2.5% cap placed in the NJ Constitution, unattained. Instead, a loophole-riddled compromise law was enacted (municipalities may not increase property taxes more than 2.0%, save in “emergencies”, which include servicing debt…) On the other hand, one of the reasons that former-Governor John Corzine lost was that he was widely viewed as indecisive and unable to stand up to the Trenton special interest mobs. Governor Christie has famously claimed he’s governing as though he’s going to be a one-term governor, and has yet to flinch from a conflict. I doubt he’s going to back down from this one, either. In the end, New Jersey’s schools are a local concern, not a statewide concern. The NJEA may have made Chris Christie their #1 enemy, but they’re only one of his many targets. And by sacking Schundler, Gov. Christie is demonstrating he’s not going to put up with incompetence on his own team. Finally, he can come out fighting against the NJEA. Their intransigence on reform cost many more points on the application than the “clerical error” cost.

Plus, Gov. Christie’s team has demonstrated a command of new media usually found on the other side. In NJ, it’s the Democrats that are the dinosaurs. Christie is an amazing spontaneous speaker, and his powerful speeches, statements, and events pop up on Youtube almost before he’s done speaking. He has a knack for making his opponents looks like whiners. His opponents depend on control of the legacy media, and Christie is bypassing the gatekeepers (which is another reason they hate him).

Normally, New Jersey politics is, at best, a spectator sport for the parts of NY and PA that have TV and radio stations that serve NJ as well. But in this case, Governor Christie’s name has been brought up as a potential presidential contender in 2012. So, for those of you out there in the Lands of the More Free, what do you think? Is this playing in Peoria, and if so, how’s it being spun?

Edit:  This was for the second round of funding, and the actual winners can be found here

16 thoughts on “Governor Christie’s pretty bad week”

  1. His application failed because he’s a republican governor, and DOE wanted to screw him. If NJ had had a democrat as governor, DOE would have worked with NJ until the extra 3 points were ‘earned’, for the children.

  2. Maybe yes, and maybe no. This list of “winners” includes other red-leaning states; and pissing of the NJ voters is a non-career-enhancing move for Obama. I live in a district that has historically elected a Republican as Representative – NJ isn’t as Blue as some people think.

    The eventual outcome depends on whether Christie or the NJEA wins the war of Spin.

  3. I heard that Tennessee is using the “Race to the Top” to make music teachers assess all of their students by means of a written test. Talk about ridiculous.

  4. I like Gov Christie, but I think the resurgent sectionalism that’s a significant undercurrent of the Tea Parties could be a stumbling block for him. Most people outside of NJ don’t differentiate it much if at all from NY, MA or CA in terms of being a blue state whose elected officials are assumed to be big-government machine politicians, if not actual socialists.

  5. Well, let’s jsut say I’m not too terribly sad that NJ “missed out”. Take the federal money, and you have to accept the federal control.

  6. AFA I’m concerned, while Christie is taking a hard line on his agenda, he still hasn’t accomplished even a fraction of what he set out to. Sometimes, too hard a line is as bad as constantly compromising, as you wind up making no progress. Although, with how the “tax cap” law turned out, they would’ve been better passing nothing.

    In the end, Christie is a typical NJ Republican, i.e. he’s too liberal for most of the rest of the country. I wouldn’t want to see him as Commander-in-Chief, as he’s also too liberal for me.

  7. “In the end, Christie is a typical NJ Republican, i.e. he’s too liberal for most of the rest of the country. I wouldn’t want to see him as Commander-in-Chief, as he’s also too liberal for me.”

    For those of us in Fly Over Country, could you expand on this?

    In what way is he “liberal”?


    1. The cap we ended up with was certainly not *nothing* in that it improved on the previous 4% with even more loophole cap that Corzine promised was “the best he could do”. Christie basically wrote the NJ FY’11 budget with as significant cuts as he could be expected to get.

      What else do you see as “too liberal”, out of curiosity?

  8. The story I saw said thet the reason the app failed was because the state board of ed screwed up on one of the questions and then didn’t have the correct data when questioned by the DOE.
    Then the State Sup lied to Christie about why they didn’t get the fundiong. Christie fired the guy (a repub).

  9. Christie is not the conservative hero that people un-familiar with New Jersey politics seem to think he is.

    The most telling moment for me, was when he appointed Paula T. Dow to be the state Attorney General.

    Dow had previously been appointed a county prosecutor (very powerful position in NJ) by Governor Jim McGreevey. McGreevey’s administration was one of the more corrupt in recent history.

    As a prosecutor Dow was well know for running so called “gun buy back programs” and is generally considered unfriendly to second amendment rights.

    I find high level appointments to be more telling than rhetoric when it comes to judging politicians.

    I voted for Christie, and I regret it.

  10. I knew Christie was poor on gun rights when I voted for him. He was a fricking US Attorney in the Northeast. Of course he’s poor on gun rights. He was (and is) better than one-gun-a-month Corzine, though.

    If he wants higher office, he’s going to have to get better. We’ll see what happens if NJ is in fact sued in federal court for 2A rights…

  11. I’d like the Republic better if getting Federal handouts for a state was looked up negatively rather than as a good…

  12. California also failed to get into the top-money running. We were torpedoed by the CA State Teacher’s Union because they don’t want anyone playing with their own plaything, the CA education system.
    New money and other ideas would have opened the door for watchful eyes, and reveal how badly they’re really doing and how much is sucked-up by administrative bloat.

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