POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Christie talks accomplishments and regrets on radio show

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

I’ve done all I can do, Gov. Chris Christie told NJ 101.5 host Eric Scott on their monthly radio call-in show on Tuesday night.

“When you start to look at that record, it’s a really good record. I don’t expect it all to be appreciated now. That’s just not the way politics works,” Christie said.

He said he’ll lay out his accomplishments in his final State of the State Address on Jan. 9. In the meantime, he is not fretting about an approval rating that has sunk to 15 percent.

“The approval rating stuff is so ridiculous. This is just a product of the fact that I’ve been around, in either the most prominent, or the second most prominent voice of the state for 16 years. I was sworn in as U.S. Attorney Jan. 17, 2002. I’ll leave the governorship Jan. 16, 2018, one day short of 16 years. No one’s ever done that in the state’s history, held both of those jobs in that period of time. Let alone back to back for that period of time. People want to hear a new voice, I get it,” he said.

Asked what issue he wished he’d done more on, he answered unused sick leave payouts.

“And you see, especially people in the police and fire industry, who walk away with check of 2, 3, $400,000 in addition to their fully paid retirement. One of the things that is just mystifying to me, is how the state Legislature can live with itself for doing something like that. And what it tells you is that in still so many respects, they’re owned by the public sector unions. I think I’ve done more work with this issue than any other governor in the state’s history and called attention to it. You never saw Tom Kean call attention to it. You never saw Brendan Byrne call attention to it. These guys who are supposed to know everything about what it’s like to be governor, you never saw them pay attention to it. In fact what they did is contribute to it,” Christie said.

Fix that problem, Christie said, and you’ve solved the fiscal crisis of New Jersey.

Christie disputed the often-heard criticism that he hasn’t built the Republican Party in the state.

“The future of the party is as an opposition party. That’s what we are. We’re not a majority party in this state,” he said.

It’s going to be a struggle for the state GOP, he said.

“There always is a void when a governor leaves. There’s a void,” Christie said. “Everybody in my party who have at times complained about my leadership when I’ve been in it, and they’re going to miss me soon. When you don’t have the governorship anymore, it’s very hard to get yourself paid attention to as a minority opposition party. That’s not an attitude, that’s fact. There’s 875,000 more Democrats. We are the minority party in New Jersey.”

He said someone will step up to lead the party.

“The future of the Republican Party will be based upon who emerges as the most effective contrarian voice to the Murphy administration. And if the Murphy administration does the things they said they’re going to do, I believe there will be an opportunity in 2021 for a tough, articulate spokesperson for the Republican party to have a legitimate chance to win the governorship,” said the governor.

Christie met with Phil Murphy two days after the election, promised a smooth transition and offered help.

“What I said to the Governor-elect that day is something I really believe. I said to him, ‘This can be the first of many conversations, or this can be our first and last, but that’s completely up to you,'” said Christie.

Christie also doubled down on his opposition to Murphy’s plan to legalize marijuana.

“The National Institutes of Health just came out with a study that says that if you’re a marijuana smoker that you’re two and a half times more likely to become an opioid addict than if you’re not a marijuana smoker. Now, what more do we need to know?” Christie asked.

Christie said he expects President Trump will give him a platform to continue to continue to speak out about opioid addiction. He also had good news for some convicted felons: He’ll be giving out a number of pardons before his time is up in 55 days.