While New Jersey politicians from opposite sides of the aisle often seem to be fighting, Montclair State University Professor Brigid Harrison says the Democratic legislature has been responsible for many of the legislative successes that Republican Governor Christie has had. According to Harrison, Christie has chosen issues that may have antagonized the Democratic base but that have resonated with average New Jerseyans, such as the topic of sick day payouts for public employees.
Harrison, a professor of political science and law, sat down with NJToday’s Mike Schneider to talk about the political climate in the state, particularly between the Democrats and the Republican governor. While public arguments, such as that over Senatorial courtesy, persist, she says the Democrats may have sacrificed their role as the royal opposition because they have been cooperative in passing measures Christie has pushed.
On the national level, Harrison says New Jersey has some prestigious legislators, including Sen. Robert Menendez. She also says the state’s legislators tend to be more moderate than others in the country because the voting public is more moderate.
New Jersey will be losing some of its national political clout with the elimination of one congressional district because of slower population growth. Because the urban areas of New Jersey are losing people at a faster rate than the rest of the state, Harrison predicts the congressman who will lose his job will be from northern or central New Jersey. As far as the 2012 presidential race is concerned, Harrison says while Governor Christie’s choice to support Mitt Romney could hurt him if Romney fails to get the nomination, Christie will likely support whoever Republicans choose to run against President Obama. She points out that former Gov. Jon Corzine originally backed Hillary Clinton in the last Democratic presidential primary, but shifted his support to Obama once he was chosen as the nominee.