As the Republican National Convention (RNC) gets underway in Tampa, all eyes will be on Chris Christie tonight when he delivers the convention’s keynote address. Expectations are running high for Christie to give a speech to remember, one that will solidify the Republican base and excite voters. But according to Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-19), the GOP shouldn’t expect the cavalry to come in the form of Chris Christie. He tells NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider they’ve tapped the wrong guy to be the savior of the party.
According to Wisniewski, Christie’s Jersey Comeback slogan rings hollow, with policies mirroring those of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. Budget choices that Christie has made, says Wisniewski, have increased property taxes and laid off teachers and firefighters.
“You’d say this guy’s a lot like Paul Ryan,” said Wisniewski. “And if you look at how this governor has approached the medical exchange legislation which would help implement the Affordable Care Act that Democrats have gotten through with President Obama’s leadership, you’d say his guy is very much like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney.”
When it was brought up that Christie had Democratic support to achieve his agenda, Wisniewski attributes much of Christie’s legislative success to timing, saying the governor is appropriating Democratic ideas.
“Steve Sweeney has talked about pension benefit reform long before Chris Christie started politicizing the office of U.S. Attorney almost as back to the time he was kicked out as a Morris County freeholder. We’ve had lots of Democrats talking about tenure reform in our public schools … and Jim McGreevey as governor proposed a university merger that we accomplished with legislation that the governor signed last week.”
To truly measure the governor’s performance, Wisniewski says look to the numbers which paint a picture of New Jersey that is far from a comeback. At 9.8 percent, Wisniewski says the state’s unemployment rate is higher than it has been since 1977 and property taxes have gone up since Christie came into office.
“These are the standards by which you measure a governor and this is a governor who when you talk about 9.8 percent unemployment he says well that number is irrelevant. When he was candidate Christie that number was a very relevant number.”
Those metrics, he says, differ from those of President Obama. “The Obama administration has actually had measurable success — 20 months of job creation — that’s not a record Chris Christie can match,” said Wisniewski. He also points to a robust stock market and a healthcare system that he says is going in the right direction via the Affordable Healthcare Act. “We see a lot of measurable successes by this [Obama] administration that we have not seen yet under the Christie administration,” said Wisniewski. “He’s got a year left. Maybe he’ll find a way to pull a rabbit out of his hat in the last year he’s got left but we haven’t seen it so far.”
Christie’s popularity remains relatively high among New Jerseyans but Wisniewski says the governor will be vulnerable come re-election time. While he refrained from revealing his own political intentions, Wisniewski was unequivocal in his support for those up for reelection this November, saying “we have to get Bob Menendez re-elected to the U.S. Senate [and] Barack Obama re-elected as President.”
As for Christie’s big night, Wisniewski doesn’t think one speech will have any effect on the way New Jerseyans will vote in the fall.
“He can go to Tampa. He can put put on the sideshow that he’s gonna put on tonight. But the fact of the matter is this state will vote for Barack Obama for President, Bob Menendez for Senate and it’ll stay a blue state.”