Chris Christie: RINO or Real Conservative?
Almost by definition, any elected statewide official in New Jersey has to be left of center, and Chris Christie is no different. He may be a Republican, but the Party has known since his initial run at the Governor’s mansion that he would never be a party line type of Republican. Like with Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe, Mike Castle, and all Republicans from blue states – we take what we can get. However, I think most of us had higher hopes for the Governor from the Garden State. He seemed conservative enough on the major issues that the places where he leaned further left than most of us were comfortable, could be overlooked. Lately, however, the fawning media coverage Christie has been getting has made him seem much more the RINO1 than we might have originally thought.
So let’s lay out the reasons Christie might have problems pleasing the conservative base.
Chris Christie will have major problems running as a national Republican if he doesn’t “evolve” on issues dealing with the 2nd Amendment. The short of it that Chris Christie falls into the mainstream of New Jersey politics when it comes to dealing with the right of a free citizenry to carry a firearm. Outside of New Jersey, however, Christie is to the left of many Democrats. He is for New Jersey’s ban on “assault weapons” and has even gone as far as to say that repeal of the state’s ban would be: “Crazy”, “Dangerous”, and “Radical”. How about just a few snippets of Christie’s thoughts on gun control:
“…we have a densely-populated state, and there’s a big hand gun problem in New Jersey.”
“But I think on guns — certain gun control issues, looking at it from a law-enforcement perspective, seeing how many police officers were killed, we have an illegal gun problem in New Jersey.”
“I support are common sense laws that will allow people to protect themselves, but I also am very concerned about the safety of our police officers on the streets, very concerned. And I want to make sure that we don’t have an abundance of guns out there.”
Alright, so on gun control, Christie is not going to get a lot of love from conservative voters. The plain truth of the matter is that Christie is bad on 2nd Amendment issues, and that’s just not going to change. The man has seen a lot of ugly gun related crimes and his heart tells him the way to make things better is gun control legislation. He’s wrong – but voters may overlook this lapse in judgment if he is conservative enough in other areas.
His latest sin doesn’t necessarily have to do with any one issue in particular, but is the fact that he has become rather chummy with our uber-liberal President. After super storm Sandy swept through New Jersey leaving behind billions of dollars in damage, the President flew in to assess the problems and see if the federal government could help. Here is where Christie got himself into trouble. President Obama was in the midst of what seemed like a tough reelection campaign and the news of the Benghazi attack had just dropped into the administrations’ lap. Things were looking bleak for the Obama campaign team, and then Governor Christie gave the President some great photo ops and the Obama campaign got its second wind.
Here’s the thing. Chris Christie is the Governor of New Jersey and his priority has to be the people of New Jersey. While it may have been nice to stick a thumb in the President’s eye and deny him any opportunities from the super storm Sandy clean up – it would have been irresponsible. The President has a lot of leverage when it comes to getting money to disaster struck regions of the country, and getting on his good side may have helped move funds to disaster stricken areas as quick as possible. The photo op may have hurt Mitt Romney and national Republicans but it put New Jersey on the front pages of newspapers around the country and made sure that Congress and the President were falling all over themselves to deliver aid and resources to the Garden State as soon as possible.
If we cherry pick just a few other national issues the image of Chris Christie as a RINO becomes much blurrier. On fiscal issues he’s kept his promise of not raising taxes in a state where raising taxes is a regular exercise. On abortion, Christie is a mainstream pro-lifer. He is against gay marriage, but seems to be okay with civil unions. On crime he could never be categorized as “soft”. On education he has fought for more charter schools and expanding “school choice” options – and he has fought unions on budget and reform issues. On immigration he hasn’t shown his cards but has made some comments that have worried some conservatives.
All in all, while Christie has gotten some very favorable media coverage from a supremely liberal media – though much of it has to do with Christie’s recent chumminess with the President. I expect that as a new election season rolls around that coverage will sour because the Governor’s record is just too conservative for the media to overlook. While it may seem that he has moved to the left, Christie is solidly right of center in a very left leaning state.
He’s dug himself a hole with his anti-liberty stance on gun issues, but it seems harsh to paint him with the RINO brush when he does meet conservative standards on most of the other important issues of our day.
- Republican-in-name-only [↩]