Gov. Chris Christie continues to enjoy record-high approval ratings. According to a Monmouth University-Asbury Park Press poll released today, Gov. Christie earns a 67 percent approve to 21 percent disapprove job rating among all Garden State residents. But it’s still a long way to election day. NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider sat down with Mike DuHaime, the governor’s Chief Political Strategist about how team Christie is positioning its candidate.
In a Democrat-leaning state like New Jersey which President Obama won by 17 points in November, DuHaime says Christie’s high poll numbers is a reflection of his ability to transcend partisanship.
“He’s got great popularity across the entire political spectrum and when you do a good job and you’re a good governor, that’s what happens,” DuHaime said.
Some political watchers are dreaming of a gubernatorial race between Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker. But whether or not Booker enters the race, DuHaime says he likes the governor’s chances no matter who he faces in the general election.
“I’ll leave it up to the Democrats to decide who’ll be the strongest Democrat,” said DuHaime. “Obviously, [Booker]’s got to decide whether he’s gonna run and then it sounds like other Democrats are waiting on him to make their decisions. We’ll leave that up to them.”
Gov. Christie’s response to Hurricane Sandy, and his performance in the storm’s immediate aftermath, made national headlines when he toured devastated areas along the Jersey Shore with President Obama. He was widely praised for his display of bipartisanship with the president. DuHaime says acts of bipartisanship is nothing new for this governor, saying he’s reached across the aisle, time and time again, to accomplish landmark reforms in the state.
“I think there’s been significant bipartisan accomplishment during the entire time that the governor’s been in office whether it’s pension and benefit reform, the property tax cap. Just about all the spending cuts and all the reforms that we’ve had have been bipartisan in nature.”
Last week, speculation arose as to whether Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno would return as Christie’s running mate in his re-election bid. At the time, he said “I don’t know what she wants, so we’ll talk.” But DuHaime confirmed to NJ Today that Guadagno will indeed be back campaigning with the governor.
“It was just a matter of the two of them speaking about it and they were able to speak this week,” he said. “The governor did not want to speak for her before he spoke to her about it and basically offer her the opportunity to do so again and they will be running together again.”
While superstorm Sandy produced a spirit of bipartisanship at the state house, it may be a matter of time before Democrats are butting heads with the governor, especially on the matter of taxes.
“There have been some bills that Democrats have put forward like tax increases every single year that the governor’s gonna veto and there’s some partisan measures Democrats are going to take [that] he won’t stand by,” said DuHaime.
But the governor has not been as vocal about a tax cut since Sandy tore through the state. But according to DuHaime, that doesn’t mean the proposal is dead. “I think it would still be the right thing to do for the people of the state. If we can afford it, you’ll have to ask the budget expert on that but I still think it’s the right thing to do for the state.”
But tax cut or no tax cut, DuHaime says the governor has shown that he’s been willing to make the tough decisions to move the state forward.
“I don’t think we want to go back in the direction where we were going for the last decade,” said DuHaime. “He’s willing to work across the aisle to make things happen and whatever the future holds, he’s the right guy and has the right attributes to be the leader in this state.”