By Seth Grossman
“In the end, I don’t think these legislative elections are a referendum on Barack Obama or on me. I think they are a referendum on each one of these individual candidates in these individual districts.”
? Gov. Chris Christie, Oct. 19, 2011
That is our Republican governor?s way of saying that he expects Democrats to win most of the 80 Assembly and 40 Senate seats on Nov. 8 and that he and his big-money, ?public-private partnership? Republicans are not responsible for this failure.
But they are responsible. This failure began right after the November 2009 election when Christie defeated Democrat Jon Corzine. Although conservative Steve Lonegan and his ?tea party? supporters had good ideas, represented 42 percent of Republican primary voters, and helped Christie win the election, Christie completely shut them out of his administration.
Lonegan and all of his supporters were shut out of Christie?s transition team, not considered for any position in his administration, not invited to share ideas over a cup of coffee and not even given the courtesy of a phone call in the two years since the election.
After completely excluding Lonegan conservatives from his team, Christie appointed liberal Democrats to three key cabinet positions. Paula Dow, the undistinguished Essex County (Newark) prosecutor, as attorney general; Obamacare advocate and Democrat campaign donor Poonam Alaigh as head of Health and Senior Services; and guru of higher electric rates for ?green? energy, more permits for ?smart? growth Bob Martin as head of Environmental Protection.
Although Christie campaigned as a tough prosecutor, his weak, Democratic attorney general did little or nothing to investigate or prosecute pay to play corruption during the past two years.
While other new Republican governors slashed spending and laid off government employees, Christie?s Democrat attorney general advised the governor that it was illegal to lay off any of the thousands of Democrats hired by previous Gov. Jon Corzine.
Christie?s attorney general also counseled the governor to reject Sen. Mike Doherty?s plan to cut property taxes in most towns by equally distributing the state?s income tax money that must go into a Property Tax Relief Fund. Christie then made a bad funding formula even worse by paying 60 percent of that money to just 31 of the state?s 616 school districts, including Pleasantville, Camden and Paula Dow?s hometown of Newark. This caused real estate tax hikes everywhere else.
A resourceful and aggressive attorney general could have ended blatant abuse in the state pension system by using the same legal tools that shut down Bernie Madoff?s Ponzi scheme. But go-along-to-get-along Democrat Paula Dow gave Christie no option but to make a lame deal with union leader/Senate President Steve Sweeney that continues the abuse, and insolvency.
While Gov. Christie claims to be cutting red tape to create jobs, his Department of Environmental Protection is ramming through ?Smart Growth? laws and regulations that make it even harder and more expensive to build anything in New Jersey. And Christie is still pushing for even higher electric bills to pay for even more solar panels and windmills that cost far more than the value of any electricity they generate.
In two years, Republican Gov. Christie did nothing to cut the bloated state budget. Nine years ago, when Democrat Jim McGreevey became governor in 2002, New Jersey state government had a yearly budget of $23.2 billion. This year?s state budget under Republican Gov. Christie is $29.7 billion ? almost exactly what it was under Democrat Gov. Jon Corzine two years ago, if you take out Corzine?s federal stimulus money.
Because Christie failed to cut state spending, neither he nor any Republican candidates even suggest rolling back Democrat Gov. Corzine?s 7 percent sales tax or Democrat Gov. McGreevey?s 13 percent hotel tax.
Early this year, Gov. Christie and his inner circle were heavily involved in picking Republican candidates to run for state Senate and Assembly. But they seemed more interested in keeping conservatives and tea party candidates out than in recruiting those most likely to win, and create a Republican majority.
Right now, more than a million dollars of state Republican campaign money controlled by Christie is clobbering Democratic Sen. Jim Whelan with attack ads in Atlantic County. But state Republicans seem to be doing very little to unseat Democratic leaders like Steve Sweeney or Dick Codey who are just as vulnerable ? but who made deals with Christie.
If Democrats still control the Legislature after the Nov. 8 elections, Christie will give us more conservative talk ? but it will be the same old taxes, spending, debt and red tape, just like previous Republican governors Tom Kean and Christie Whitman.
(Reprinted from October 26, 2011 Current-Gazette Newspapers of Atlantic and Cape May Counties, http://www.shorenewstoday.com/snt/news/index.php/politics/17659-if-democrats-win-the-legislature-blame-christie.html)
Somers Point attorney Seth Grossman appears on 1400AM talk radio 3-4 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and on 92.1FM 8-9 a.m. Saturday. For information see www.libertyandprosperity.org, email@example.com?or call (609) 927-7333. Breakfast discussions are held 9:30-10:30 a.m. every Saturday at the Shore Diner on Fire and Tilton roads in Egg Harbor Township.