Chris Christie: A Conservative Myth - Part 4
Lately, it has become fashionable among conservatives and Republicans nationwide to lavish effusive praise and encomiums upon Governor Chris Christie as the “Conservative Savior” of New Jersey - and this trend has begun to mushroom into a fervent cult of pseudo-personality that is already calling for him to throw his hat into the 2012 Presidential campaign ring.
Myth #4: Gov. Christie endorses and stumps for Republican candidates who are Reagan conservatives.
Here are the facts: Governor Christie’s reputation as a tough-talking, take-no-prisoners Reagan conservative quickly assumed a life of its own - thanks in no small part to the wonder of YouTube - and within months of taking office, Republican candidates nationwide began clamoring for the pugnacious Governor to stump for them in their states or districts.
And so it came to pass that in September, Gov. Chris Christie embarked on a remarkable fifteen state whirlwind tour that would have him stumping for more than twenty GOP candidates in a variety of races and raising nearly $9 million in the process:
- California: gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman
- New Mexico: gubernatorial nominee Susana Martinez
- Ohio: gubernatorial nominee John Kasich
- Iowa: gubernatorial nominee Terry Branstad
- Illinois: gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady
- Wisconsin: gubernatorial nominee Scott Walker
- Michigan: gubernatorial nominee Rick Snyder
- Connecticut: gubernatorial nominee Tom Foley and Senate nominee Linda McMahon
- Pennsylvania: gubernatorial nominee Tom Corbett, House nominees Pat Meehan and Mike Fitzpatrick, incumbent Representatives Charlie Dent and Jim Gerlach
- Maryland: gubernatorial nominee Bob Ehrlich
- Massachusetts: gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker
- Minnesota: gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer
- Oregon: gubernatorial nominee Chris Dudley
- Florida: Senate nominee Marco Rubio
- New Jersey: House nominees Jon Runyan, Anna Little, Scott Sipprelle and Roland Straten.
These valiant GOP warriors are all stalwart Reagan conservatives, right?
Um…no…not all of them.
Meg Whitman might just as well have been Arnold Schwarzenegger in drag. Linda McMahon talked a good fiscal ballgame, but struck out on issues that are dear to the hearts of Reaganites (she was definitely pro-abortion). John Kasich was instrumental in securing passage of the Assault Weapon Ban during the Clinton years and appears to suffer from an allergy to the Second Amendment.
We can certainly understand the political calculus that governs endorsements of GOP candidates - especially in an election year as critical as this one. There are occasions when a highly influential conservative Republican is obliged by the byzantine intricacies of politics to do what his political conscience would otherwise forbid: bite the bullet and endorse the RINO.
But what about Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware? Both are endorsed and supported by the Tea Party movement. The former battled Harry Reid for his Senate seat; the latter engaged in mortal political combat with Chris Coons for Joe Biden’s old Senate seat. Both were, for all practical purposes, abandoned by the GOP establishment after winning their respective primaries, leaving them woefully bereft of resources.
An appearance by the proclaimed “rock star” of conservatism possibly might have made the difference between victory and defeat. Surely, Gov. Christie could have made a brief stop in Nevada to support Angle after appearing in California to support Whitman. Delaware is just across the river from both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Governor could very easily have traveled to Delaware on behalf of Mrs. O’Donnell and yet did not do so.
The reason is no mystery: here are his exact words in a recent interview with David Gregory on Meet the Press:
Christie: I endorsed Mike Castle in the primary because I felt he was the best person.
Gregory: Do you agree with Lindsey Graham from South Carolina or Jim DeMint from South Carolina that Delaware is a wake-up call for Republicans?
Christie: I think Delaware was a missed opportunity to have a really good United States Senator in Mike Castle and that’s why I endorsed him in the primary.
And Castle’s voting record in the House? Heh…read and weep.
American Conservative Union: Most conservatives start any analysis of voting records by studying the member’s score from the ACU. Castle receives a dismal 52% lifetime average with the ACU.
Club for Growth: Castle scores a horrendous 43% from CFG for 2009. Again, since his announced Senate bid he has been much more conservative than previous years. In 07 and 08 he earned a 35% and 26% respectively. In every year, Castle has had the most liberal voting record of any member of the 175+ Republican caucus. So in 2008, when Arlen Specter scored a 44%, Mike Castle scored a 26%! The CFG ratings give us more of an idea of how much of a statist the member is than the ACU.
Guns: Castle garners an F from the NRA and Gun Owners of America. In fact, he hasn’t earned anything but a 0, F, or F- from a pro 2nd amendment group since the early 90’s. Nuff’ said.
Life: Castle has consistently earned a 0 from the National Right to Life, while usually scoring a perfect 100% from NARAL and Planned Parenthood.
Castle would have been an excellent Senator, alright…for the Democrats. After losing the primary to Christine O’Donnell, Castle refused to endorse her or support her run against Chris “The Bearded Marxist” Coons.
We would not be as bothered by Gov. Christie’s failure to endorse O’Donnell if he had not endorsed Castle. But if a nationally-known Republican is going to interject himself into political contest, he has a duty to support Republican nominees, not sandbag them - which is precisely what he did to Christine O’Donnell. By failing to condemn Mr. Castle for his spiteful gesture, Mr. Christie and other prominent Republicans defaulted on their leadership roles.
But fear not: Gov. Christie made sure to stump the Jersey sod for GOP upstarts Jon Runyan, Anna Little, Scott Sipprelle, and Roland Straten. However, it’s the Anna Little campaign that draws our attention because of the intrigue that underlies the Governor’s visit.
Apparently, the fact that Mr. Christie and the GOP establishment did everything they could to crush Anna Little during the District 6 Republican primary was water under the bridge: on September 8 the Governor gave the keynote speech at a fundraiser for Mrs. Little in Point Pleasant.
Something changed shortly thereafter: when Sharron Angle - Nevada’s Tea Party candidate for U.S. Senate - arrived in New Jersey on September 15 to endorse Anna Little, the campaign abruptly and inexplicably shut out the media, effectively blacking out coverage of the event.
Two days later the Little campaign issued a press release announcing that Anna Little was a “Chris Christie Republican.”
My supporters are Chris Christie’s supporters. They believe in me as they believe in him. I am proud to be associated with this trailblazer who has laid the foundation for the grass roots campaign I run today.
As a matter of fact, the “trailblazer” who laid the foundation for Anna Little’s grassroots campaign was not Chris Christie (who always enjoyed the full support of the GOP establishment) but Steve Lonegan - who was forced to take his campaign to the grassroots of the Garden State in 2009.
Not long afterward, literature issued by the Little campaign trumpeted the candidate as a “Chris Christie Republican” and the Governor made another appearance for Mrs. Little at a rally in Piscataway on Sunday, October 17.
In the days leading up to October 31 the Tea Party Express organization announced that Sarah Palin would be making a surprise visit to a rally in Toms River, NJ on Sunday, October 31. We promptly contacted the organizers of the event for press passes after hearing that Anna Little had also been invited.
As it turned out, although La Palin appeared with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday in New York City, she did not appear at the Toms River rally - for that matter, neither did Anna Little. Palin also did not appear at a similar rally in Delaware. We found it difficult to believe that the Tea Party Express would lie outright about an appearance from the Arctic Fox, so we contacted the Little campaign to determine what REALLY happened behind the scenes.
According to a source close to Mrs. Little, the price for Gov. Christie’s endorsement back in September was conspicuous distance from Sarah Palin or “any of the conservative big guns” which certainly would have included Tea Party darling Sharron Angle, whose visit was likely scheduled long in advance. Since canceling the appearance would have been rudely inappropriate and would have raised more questions than could be answered, the only other option would be keeping the visit as low key as possible. Hence the media blackout.
And who exacted this price? According to our source, it was Governor Christie himself in a direct conversation with the candidate.
While a little over half of the candidates endorsed by Gov. Christie won their respective races, his coat-tails weren’t very effective in his home state: with the exception of Jon Runyan, none of the Christie-sponsored Republican challengers emerged victorious. Even then, Runyan barely won against freshman incumbent John Adler in a Republican-leaning district - thanks in large part to a scandal that erupted after so-called Tea Party candidate Peter DeStefano was discovered to be a stalking horse sponsored by Adler.
So what was the point of Gov. Christie’s fifteen state whistle-stop tour on behalf of Republican candidates? Ostensibly, it was to promote the conservative Republican brand, but given the Governor’s political history, we suspect an ulterior motive. What could it be?
According to a New York-based Democratic strategist the answer is plain as day:
Christie “has built up a fair amount of political capital, and he’s spending it consistently and constructively,” said Dan Gerstein… “It’s another sign that he’s a smart politician, and his success is no accident.”
Gerstein added, “First off, it shows he is a player beyond New Jersey. Second, it adds to his juice. He’s in demand, which will make more people want him, and more people listen to him.”
“The Republican Party will need moderate, independent-thinking leaders like Christie who can win in blue states, if they’re going to compete on a level playing field,” said Gerstein. “The Republican Party needs an antidote to Palinism.”
“An antidote to Palinism.” And what is “Palinism” but the putative face of the Tea Party movement that calls for limited government, lower taxes and restrained spending?
Fascinating. Perhaps Mr. Gerstein is able to discern what so many “Christienistas” cannot: Gov. Christie is a RINO in an ill-fitting Reagan suit who can see the 2013 White House from his porch.
In Part 5 we will examine the myth that Gov. Christie opposes Cap & Trade because of the havoc it will wreak on the state economy.
Here are links to all the articles in this series:
How New Jersey Lost Its Mojo
Introduction to the Christie Conservative Myth
Part 1 - Budget Myths
Part 2 - Unions and State Employees
Part 3 - Conservative Appointees
Part 4 - Political Endorsements
Part 5 - Cap & Trade and “Green Technology”
Part 6 - Gov. Christie and Obamacare
Part 7 - Illegal Aliens, Gun Control and the GZ Mosque
Part 8 - A Conservative Myth Exposed