By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent
Should Chris Christie have to resign as governor now that he’s running for president? In a Monmouth Poll out today a majority thinks so — 57 percent to 37.
George W. Bush did not resign as governor of Texas until after he was elected president. The same for Bill Clinton who resigned as governor of Arkansas only after his election.
Five states have laws that require a state official seeking higher office to resign his current seat. New Jersey is not one of them, and there’s been no push in Trenton to make it one.
The League of Women Voters sees pros and cons in such a law.
“People may feel that when a person is running for higher office if they stay in office they’re thinking more about their future constituents rather than their current constituents. But then if someone holding that office is required to resign it’s quite possible their current constituents would end up without being represented for a period of time, or someone could be appointed in their place and then they’re being represented by someone they did not elect to be in that position,” said Nancy Hedinger, president of the NJ League of Women Voters.
Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno would take over if the governor were to resign.
Christie has long maintained that he can do both jobs.
“I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I can do this job and also deal with my future,” he said while debating Barbara Buono.
At a town hall he said, “I’m constitutionally prohibited. Eight years and I’m done. So I’m gonna need a job after this. Just because I’m gonna have to consider what that next job is doesn’t mean I’m not on the job doing the job I need to do every day here. I can walk and chew gum at the same time.”
And last night, “No — none at all? I told you all the time, David, I can walk and chew gum.”
Last Friday Christie said no governor has spent more time in the Statehouse than he, and that when he campaigns it’s often on his own time.
“So when I do a lot of that other stuff — the developing of national ideas or the raising of money — that’s done on time outside my work day most of the time and so the people it really affects are Mary Pat and the kids because I’m on the phone at home or taking conference calls or having people to the house to meet. But that’s part of what you have to do if you want to be part of a national conversation,” Christie said last week.
But after his hands-on performance during Superstorm Sandy, Christie was not on the scene last Tuesday night when devastating storms swept through South Jersey.
Some of the affected mayors are still fuming.
“And to have our governor be more concerned in regards to his presidential campaign than what is going on in his backyard, I find it to be disgraceful. So at the end of the day if running for president is actually impacting his day-to-day operation and his responsibilities here in the state, then I would expect him as not only a gentleman, and a man, but as a career politician to be able to say it’s time for me to move on. I’ve made my decision I’m moving on,” said East Greenwich Township Mayor Dale Archer.
He says he’s still being governor.
“Maybe years ago before cell phones and smart phones and Skype and all this other stuff maybe you could literally really be disconnected, but you can’t now,” he said.
Christie said a year ago he wouldn’t resign if he became a candidate for president. Were the legislature trying to pass a law like that here, he’d veto it.