While many conservatives still may be wondering what went wrong with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, for most of us, the handwriting has been on the wall for some time. He is a liberal masquerading as a conservative.
Christie rose to Republican super-stardom after handily defeating Democrat incumbent Governor Jon Corzine, breaking a streak of Democratic victories in a state where John McCain lost to Barack Obama by more than 15 percent. Christie seemed poised to become the GOP’s electoral savior, emerging from the northeast political wasteland to lead Republicans to the Promised Land.
It started as a love fest. Early in the 2012 primary season, Christie was the most prominent candidate conservatives were hoping would throw his hat into the ring. His brash, in-your-face style contrasted favorably with that of more traditional and cautious GOP establishment candidates, like Mitt Romney. Christie’s public battles with New Jersey’s teacher’s unions solidified his “street cred” with conservatives, as he excoriated union bosses. Many conservatives actually were disappointed when Christie decided to forgo the presidential race in 2012 to focus on New Jersey, and -- it was assumed -- to establish a foundation for a run in 2016.
But all was not well in Oz; there always was something troubling about Christie’s conservative conversion. “In the primary, Christie ran as a conservative, but ever since he's been lurching to the left,” New Jersey Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine wrote in July 2009, a month after Christie won the Republican Primary. Christie is still lurching, if not racing in that direction.
Time, as it so often tends to do, has revealed a side to Christie that was well-observed by New Jersey politicos during the gubernatorial contest, but was largely hidden from outsiders until Christie was thrown onto the national stage. As Mulshine observed in 2009, Christie’s conservative credentials were nothing more than ambiguous sound bites, coupled with a masterful strategy of bobbing and weaving to deflect questions that would have forced him into articulating a conservative position on issues.