Will NJ’s Struggling Economy Hurt Christie?
In some circles, Gov. Chris Christie is the Superman of the Republican Party, but will New Jersey’s economy be his kryptonite?
As Christie continues to travel across the country as the head of the Republican Governors Association, GOP presidential hopefuls are already attacking him on his record at home. One political expert said that if Christie decides to run for president in 2016, the criticisms will escalate.
“He will almost certainly be attacked on the state of New Jersey’s economy,” said Ben Dworkin, political science professor at Rider University. “In a presidential campaign, any governor is going to be attacked on his or her record in their home state.”
New Jersey is one of the highest taxed states in the nation. Its credit rating is dropping, its foreclosure rate is high and it lags its surrounding states in terms of job growth. “It’s not that New Jersey hasn’t seen economic growth, but it has lagged behind our regional neighbors and the country as a whole,” Dworkin said.
The governor, however, can counter-attack. Christie, according to Dworkin, can say he is attempting to help the state’s economy by reforming the public employee pension and health benefits system. Dworkin said Christie can also cite that he tried to cut the income tax rate, but Democrats blocked him from doing so, and that he’s trying to make the state more business friendly.
In the end, New Jersey’s struggling economy might not matter at all. “In a presidential campaign, it’s rarely decided on things that happened in the past. Presidential campaigns focus on the future,” Dworkin said.