Has Christie Lost Control of NJ Republicans?
As he campaigns for the Republican nomination for president, Gov. Chris Christie continues to spend more time in other states than New Jersey, he’s a lame duck governor and his approval numbers have hit rock bottom with New Jersey voters.
After three GOP state senators jumped ship last month and voted to override the governor’s veto of gun control legislation, something that hasn’t happened since Christie became governor six years ago, some are wondering if he’s losing control of lawmakers within his own party.
One political pundit doesn't think so.
Rider University Political Science Professor Ben Dworkin said Christie’s record of having his own party support him continuously through every veto override attempt, until last month, is unprecedented.
“No one had done it that well that long with their own party," Dworkin said, who added some chinks in Christie's armor is expected now that he's a lame duck governor and is campaigning outside of New Jersey frequently.
And while unanimous Republican support for Christie might not be seen moving into next year, the governor still wields a lot of power.
“Tremendous power is given to the governor of New Jersey. It’s the most powerful governorship in the entire country," Dworkin said. "Chris Christie is still the governor and I think while people might not be as afraid of him, he still has a tremendous influence on what gets done or not done.”
One thing Dworkin said voters should be on the lookout for is to see if the three state senators who voted against the governor's gun veto are punished.
“Will they be punished in some kind of public way? Will appointments that they’ve been pushing not see the light of day? Will legislation that they’ve been pushing suddenly stop? Will there be cuts in the budget of money for their districts?," Dworkin said these are some of the lingering questions.
Dworkin said once lawmakers get a sense of that, the next question will be if lawmakers are willing to take Christie on again or will they be too afraid to do that.
The bottom line, according to Dworkin, is every governor wants power of legislators in his or her party, something that Christie does well.
"Chris Christie has been more successful in keeping members of his party in line than almost anyone else in the modern history of this state,” Dworkin said.
And while Christie's focus might be on the White House, his leadership in New Jersey isn't over yet.
“Don’t forget, if Christie’s quest for the presidency doesn’t work out and he returns sometime in the spring of 2016, he is still going to be governor for at least a year and a half, if not more," Dworkin said. "People still will have to deal with him on budget issues, on appointments, on any number of legislative matters. That’s going to be an important friend to have during that year and a half.”