ONE NEW JERSEY
With Chris Christie in Illinois yesterday to continue auditioning for Mitt Romney, will he take the time to put aside politicking at the Conservative Political Action Conference to follow-up on the jobs he promised to bring to New Jersey over 16 months ago?
In January 2011, Christie took a trip to Chicago on the heels of a major taxpayer-funded public relations blitz to lure jobs from Illinois to New Jersey. His administration spent over $300,000 in taxpayer dollars on glossy magazine advertisements and radio spots starring Christie himself. Newspaper ads ran up and down the state encouraging businesses to pick up stakes and relocate to the Garden State. Christie deemed the trip an immediate success and claimed to have met with some 18 various business leaders — one of whom apparently told him they were "sold" on moving to New Jersey. Yet, 16 months later the reliably mouthy governor is tight-lipped about the end outcome of his much-ballyhooed trip to poach jobs from the Prairie State.
Today — as Christie returns to the scene of the lie — it is more imperative than ever to answer the question: "Where are the jobs Christie promised from Illinois?" With a penchant for finger-pointing and name-calling, it is Christie who must be held accountable for broken promises and failures that fly in the face of his laughable "Jersey Comeback," especially when it comes to jobs.
Month in and out, New Jersey continues to consistently trail the rest of America when it comes to unemployment. Throughout Christie's entire tenure, New Jersey's employment rate has hovered at nine percent or higher. And this week, it came to light that New Jersey ranks 47th in economic performance and that the state's economy shrank .5 percent last year, even as 43 other states enjoyed economic growth.
As more and more bad statistics trickle out, those who live in New Jersey know that Christie's claims of a "Jersey Comeback" are pure myth. The state now has the second highest percentage of mortgage loans in foreclosure in the nation. This number continues to spike as rates nationally have fallen to the lowest levels since 2008. Since 2009, New Jersey's homeless population rose seven percent and food stamp usage is up 23.2 percent.
New Jersey is looking at a revenue shortfall anywhere from Christie's rosy projection of $600 million to the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services estimate of nearly $1.4 billion. Just this week, OLS reported revenues are likely to fall another $50-$100 million below earlier forecasts. Nonetheless, Christie doubled down on his pledge to veto a millionaire's tax, while still moving ahead with his plans to borrow money to finance a tax cut to the wealthy.
Rather than hobnobbing with national right-wing radicals in a bid to audition for Romney's VP slot, Christie instead should be in Illinois following up on his promise to bring jobs to New Jersey. Once again, Christie cares more about speaking to a fawning out-of-state audience than focusing on making life better for New Jersey's middle-class. Apparently, Christie is already on message with Romney. Much like Massachusetts was 47th in jobs under Governor Romney, New Jersey's economy is 47th under Christie.
To all those at CPAC who come away from this morning's bombastic speech saying Romney should choose Christie for his Veep slot, I suggest looking back just four short years to the last time a GOP nominee chose a running mate with less than three years experience who is far better at being provocative than productive. Try as he might, Christie can't put lipstick on the failure of his so-called "Jersey Comeback."
Here's some free advice to Governor Christie from one constituent: don't come back to Jersey unless you come back bearing new jobs. Don't audition for a new job until you've done the job you already have. And that means creating the jobs that you bragged about and never got around to actually producing.
Joshua Henne is a co-founder of White Horse Strategies, a communications and political consulting firm, and the spokesman for One New Jersey. For more information, see www.onenewjersey.org. Twitter: @JoshuaHenne.