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Posts tagged ‘Republican Governors Association’

Christie Agenda Hampered as Former Democratic Allies Turn on Him.


To push his first-term agenda, Republican Governor Chris Christie had no greater booster than Senate President Stephen Sweeney, New Jersey’s top-ranking elected Democrat.

When Christie wanted to make state workers contribute more toward pensions and benefits, Sweeney, an ironworkers union organizer, stepped up with a bill. To drum up voter support for $750 million in borrowing for university construction, Sweeney, who never attended college, hit the campus tour circuit.

Now, as Christie seeks backing from the legislature’s majority Democrats to further cut pensions that constrain his record $34.4 billion proposed budget for fiscal 2015, Sweeney is casting himself more as foe than enabler.

“This has nothing to do with me getting along with him or not,” Sweeney, 54, said in a Feb. 25 interview. “It’s business.”

The chill comes amid state and federal investigations of the administration’s links to intentional traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. Christie, a potential presidential candidate, is seeking a policy victory to reverse sliding approval. He also is looking for bragging points as chairman and chief fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association in a year in which 36 states will elect chief executives.

More Cutbacks

Sweeney is the one New Jersey politician with the clout to make both the legislature and labor swallow a sequel to Christie’s first-term benefits cutbacks, which included a higher retirement age and bigger employee contributions to health insurance and the pension plan. Sweeney on Feb. 24 said another round isn’t negotiable.

“He’s saying, ’I don’t feel like giving anymore, especially to a weakened governor,’” said Matthew Hale, a political-science professor at Seton Hall University in South Orange.

Since Christie, 51, began his second term last month, Sweeney has soured:

The governor’s inaugural address, the burly lawmaker said, was “long on rhetoric and short on solutions.”

His handling of Hurricane Sandy aid: a “colossal failure.”

On another Christie proposal, a 10 percent income-tax cut, Sweeney told reporters Feb. 24: “You gotta be kidding me.”

Not Shy

Sweeney, like Christie, isn’t afraid to speak his mind. A resident of West Deptford, a Philadelphia suburb, Sweeney entered public service after his daughter was born with Down syndrome, because he wanted to improve laws and services for children with special needs. He served on his county’s governing board and was elected to the Senate in 2001. He has been re- elected three times, and has been president since 2010.

Since 2006, the lawmaker had been pushing pension changes over the objections of members of his party, who are typically backed in New Jersey elections by public unions.

Christie’s predecessor, Democrat Jon Corzine, wouldn’t hear of it, telling workers at a rally in front of the Statehouse that he would fight for them.

In the Feb. 25 budget speech, Christie said New Jersey’s pension system is underfunded by $52 billion after a decade of expanded benefits and missed payments. He signed a law in 2011 requiring the state to make one-seventh of its pension contribution in fiscal 2012, then raise the payment each year until it reaches the full annual amount, $5.5 billion, in 2018.

Creative Invective

Christie ousted Corzine in the 2009 election as voters rejected the one-term Democrat’s handling of the economy. The first Republican elected New Jersey governor since 1997, Christie and Sweeney made an agreement in June 2011 on a plan to curb pension costs. Unions picketed outside the Statehouse, while members hissed and booed inside as Sweeney testified on the measure before a legislative panel.

A month later, when Christie removed millions of dollars of Democratic add-ons to his second budget, Sweeney called him a bully, a punk and “a mean old bastard.” Christie told reporters two weeks later that he held no grudges because of the remarks, and he said together they had done “amazing things.”

“Senator Sweeney and I have a passionate relationship,” Christie said then. “When you have a passionate relationship like that, sometimes people get overemotional, and I think Senator Sweeney’s comments of two weeks ago are probably an example of that. We have a good relationship and we’re friends.”

The pension and benefits bill “never would have happened without Steve Sweeney’s vision and his leadership,” he said.

Taking Credit

Christie’s first-term successes were made possible because of alliances with prominent Democrats. Such ties stretch to Sweeney’s South Jersey base and its major political fundraiser, George Norcross. In the north, Christie is aligned with Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo. The governor worked with DiVincenzo on the pension changes and with Norcross on reorganizing the state’s universities.

Sweeney, mentioned as a possible candidate for governor in 2017, made it clear this week that he wants credit for the 2011 retirement legislation.

“Let’s get it straight: It was my plan, not his,” Sweeney told reporters after Christie’s Feb. 25 budget address. “I was not his collaborator. He came along and worked on a plan that I believed in because I know pensions.”

2017 Race

Sweeney ceded a chance to challenge Christie last year to Barbara Buono, a Senate colleague from Metuchen who lost by 22 percentage points in November. In January, after e-mails showed a Christie aide suggested the bridge tie-ups in Fort Lee, whose Democratic mayor didn’t endorse the governor, Sweeney formed an investigatory committee with power to subpoena members of the executive branch.

“He’s been such a close ally of Christie over the past four years that he has to prove himself anew to the Democratic Party,” said Peter Woolley, a politics professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison.

Christie, in his budget speech, said the pension changes haven’t gone far enough, because costs continue to rise. He gave no specifics on what else was needed. Sweeney said the governor should focus on improving the economy to boost revenue, not cutting obligations.

“Sweeney saw his political star rising because of the ascendancy of Chris Christie, and that allegiance could carry him into the governor’s mansion,” said Brigid Harrison, a political professor at Montclair State University. “Now he recognizes that his alliance with Christie is detrimental. Over the next several years he’s going to make every effort to distance himself.”

Sweeney in recent months has adapted some of Christie’s public-relations strategy. Christie has his town-hall meetings; Sweeney this month started touring towns to draw attention to Sandy victims’ troubles.

Once a month, the governor hears from voters during an hour-long radio call-in show. In December, Sweeney began weekly “Twitter Thursdays,” using his social-media account to answer questions. He has about 2,500 followers; Christie has 439,000.

In a Dec. 12 exchange, one user asked who would be the victor in a Sweeney-Christie arm-wresting match. Sweeney, with apologies to the governor, said, “It’s only a competition if the other guy has a chance.”

 

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

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Democrats Have 11 Videos Ready to Slam Christie on Bridge-gate.


Democratic Party strategists are focusing on a systematic strategy to undermine New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s national image by capitalizing on the backlash from the George Washington bridge scandal.

According to The New York Times, Democratic operatives reaching up to the highest levels of the party are using every opportunity to define Christie as a corrupt bully as they aim to sabotaging his chances of mounting a successful run for the White House.

Democrats have already created 11 different videos to capitalize on Christie’s links to the bridge-gate scandal. They are also organizing protests and news conferences in different parts of the country to dog Christie during his travels in his role as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

“If Republican governors want to keep embracing him as their chair, as their model for the future, we’re happy to help them out,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, told the Times.

Democrats have also resorted to attacking GOP candidates and lawmakers who have come to Christie’s defense, from a potential Senate candidate in New Hampshire to a New York congressman, according to The Times.

For example, when former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who is considering a run for Senate in New Hampshire, defended Christie on television, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee immediately ridiculed him as being “defender-in-chief of scandal-ridden Chris Christie,” according to The Times.

The Democratic National Committee has issued 58 emails to the media about the Christie administration’s alleged acts of political revenge, while American Bridge, a Democratic research group, has issued 169 requests for internal documents from the Christie Administration, the Times reports.

The escalating attacks have begun to limit Christie’s ability to work on behalf of GOP candidates, with aides being forced to conceal the details of fundraisers and events. But key donors have so far said they will not turn their backs on him.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Melanie Batley

Giuliani: Let Gov. Christie Do His Job.


Until there is concrete evidence to prove that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did something wrong, he should be left to do his job, his friend and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani says.

“There’s nothing wrong with saying the following, ‘Until and unless there’s evidence that proves he did something wrong, we’re going to take the governor at his word. We’re going to let him do his job,'” Giuliani told “Face the Nation” host Major Garrett Sunday. “I believe it’s going to come out all right. If it doesn’t, there’s always time to take action then.”

Story continues below.

Giuliani has been standing behind Christie throughout the growing George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal. He reiterated that statements made by former Port Authority official David Wildstein’s attorney that Christie knew about the lane closures were no bombshell revelation.

“Here’s what it is,” Giuliani told Garrett. “It’s an offer from a guy who says he has evidence, hasn’t given the evidence yet. However, you have to take that into context. This is a lawyer who’s writing for a man who wants somebody else to pay his legal bills and he can’t get them paid unless the governor is responsible. And he’s a guy that’s seeking immunity.”

Giuliani said the recent disclosures and others that will likely come should be put into context.

“This is a long investigation,” said Giuliani. “It’s going to take a while. There’s going to be stuff like this that just jumps out and everybody’s going to exaggerate. They’re going to have to back off.”

If Christie is lying, Giuliani said, it’s a bad situation, but if the governor is telling the truth, “then something very unfair is being done to him. So let’s see what happens.”

Meanwhile, Giuliani said that he does not think Christie should step down from his leadership position at the Republican Governor’s Association.

Further, Giuliani agrees that the allegations that Christie was behind closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge in retribution for the Fort Lee mayor’s refusal to back his re-election campaign are “unfortunate and bad,” and the governor did apologize.

“But what I’m saying is, you take that real incident and now you’ve got pile on,” said Giuliani.

“You have a Democratic legislature with a guy who’d like to be governor, who very, very oddly announces at the beginning he doesn’t believe the governor. And no Democrat in the state sees that it’s odd that he should be running an investigation when he’s already announced that he knows the answer that none of us know the answer to.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

Axelrod: Bridge-Gate Shows Christie Had ‘Culture Problem’ in His Office.


Former White House political adviser David Axelrod said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s may have ignored a “culture problem” in his office that office that led to the so-called bridge-gate scandal and the subsequent firing of a top aide.

“He should have acknowledged in that press conference that maybe there was a culture problem in his office. Maybe there was something he needs to address in himself,” Axelrod, who engineered President Barack Obama’s two campaigns, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Friday.

“You need to acknowledge that there was something amiss in your office, if someone as close as this woman [Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly] was to him, could take that action and think that he would think it was all right. And, he didn’t do that. I think that was a missed opportunity for him,” he added.

As the scandal over the ordered lane shutdown last fall on the George Washington Bridge separating Jersey from New York plays out, Axelrod said taking ownership of the situation could help the Republican governor offset criticism of “the things that are almost surely going to roll out, even if he was innocent of any involvement in this particular scheme.”

Overall, Axelrod said Christie gave a “very, very strong performance” as he spent nearly two hours answering reporters’ questions about Kelly and another aide allegedly engineering the lane shut down to snarl traffic in Fort Lee, N.J. as political payback for the town’s Democratic mayor refusing to endorse Christie’s re-election campaign in October.

“I thought he was very good yesterday in his press conference. I thought he handled it about as well as could be handled,” Axelrod said.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Wanda Carruthers

Christie Faces Problems in NJ as National Profile Grows.


Image: Christie Faces Problems in NJ as National Profile Grows

By Lisa Barron

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was reelected in a landslide victory over his Democratic challenger last month, but ensuing troubles in the Garden State could hinder a possible presidential run in 2016.

Although Christie took over as chairman of the Republican Governors Association shortly after the election and polls indicate is the GOP frontrunner among possible presidential candidates, he is now under fire at from inside and outside his own party, according toPolitico.

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Hispanic leaders in New Jersey, a traditionally blue state, have criticized Christie for backing down on a campaign pledge to support in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants.

Meanwhile, former Republican Gov. Tom Kean publicly chastised the governor after Christie loyalists tried to oust Kean’s son, Tom Kean Jr., from his post as state Senate minority leader after the GOP failed to pick up seats in last month’s election.

The move failed, but there are still hard feelings.

“In my opinion it was wrong,” the former governor told the Asbury Park Press. “Absolutely. You don’t start going after people who have been loyal to you.”

But Christie adviser Mike DuHaime dismissed the controversies, pointing to the 51-year-old governor’s record.

“His leadership in New Jersey, both in times of crisis and in his long-term efforts to cut spending and reform education, is the very reason for the national speculation. I have zero doubt he will continue to get the job done in New Jersey,” he told Politico.

Not necessarily, said Democratic strategist Tad Devine, who worked for Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis‘s 1988 presidential campaign.

“Some of the worst problems for a governor running for president are in their home state. We were always dealing with local political problems in Massachusetts that were completely out of proportion for a campaign for president,” he recalled.

“And that was in a state dominated by Democrats. If the Republicans had controlled the legislature, it would’ve been a nightmare,” he added.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

NY Post: Christie’s ‘Bizarre Behavior’ Raises Questions on 2016 Prospects.


Image: NY Post: Christie's 'Bizarre Behavior' Raises Questions on 2016 Prospects

By Melanie Batley

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie‘s loyalty to the Republican Party is being questioned after he refused to make a public endorsement of a possible GOP challenger to New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a move some say could hurt his chances of winning the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

Cuomo has disputed an earlier Post report that Christie was prepared to back Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino should he get the Republican nomination for governor next year, saying Christie made a personal phone call to him to assure him otherwise,according to The New York Post.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

“Christie already has a problem with many Republicans refusing to forgive him because of his embrace of [President] Obama and his socially liberal policies,” a GOP operative told the Post.

“But this bizarre behavior in suggesting he won’t help a Republican defeat a Democratic governor, and a Cuomo no less, could finish off his chance of becoming his party’s nominee for president in 2016.”

Christie, who is the newly elected chairman of the Republican Governors Association, was criticized by many Republicans after he embraced President Barack Obama last November during a tour of areas that were damaged during Superstorm Sandy. At the time, they said Christie had undermined GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s chances on the eve of the election.

Christie’s spokesman and political consultant have refused to comment on the reports, according to the Post, and after the initial report suggesting Christie would back Astorino, Cuomo told the paper, “I spoke to Gov. Christie this morning, who told me the exact opposite.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Jindal: We Don’t Need Government Running Healthcare.


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Sunday that the glitches plaguing Obamacare exemplifies why the government should not be in charge of health coverage.

“Maybe they will bring in Al Gore, who says he invented the Internet, maybe they will fix the website, but the bigger issue, is this is systematic — we don’t need the government running our healthcare,” Jindal told “Fox News Sunday.”

“The real critical issue is when it comes time to schedule your grandmother’s cancer surgery, what’s going to happen then,” Jindal said.

“This is an incompetent rollout, but its symptomatic of the liberal ideology that believes government should be running our healthcare,” Jindal said.

Asked whether he is considering a run for president in 2016, Jindal evaded the questions saying it was too early to make that decision, but he offered advice for the Republican Party to bring voters back into the fold.

“We can’t just be a party of ‘no,'” said Jindal, who also heads the Republican Governors Association.

“We need to show voters conservative principles work, and to see them working you don’t need to look any further than our state capitols,” Jindal said.

Those 30 states where Republicans are in charge are focusing on school choice, cutting taxes and lowering the unemployment rate, Jindal said.

“We don’t need to change our principles, we don’t need to become a second-level party,” Jindal said. “We need to win the war of ideas.”

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Issa: Obama Needs to Fire Officials Over Obamacare Failure

Rep. Blackburn: Obamacare Incompetence ‘Staggering’

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Audrey Hudson

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