New Jersey’s brash-talking Gov. Chris Christie is getting ready to deliver his second “State of the State” address to the state’s political bigwigs next week. Will be he use his bully pulpit to be a statesman … or a bully?
If past is prologue, as Shakespeare tells us, the governor may get caught between a little of both?
That may be the central dilemma the still-new Christie, as he passes the halfway point in his first term. Can he control his tongue and temper enough to continue his record of notable achievements?
Christie has been an overall good governor. He took on the state workers unions, including the mighty teachers, and won. Before that, these special interests considered themselves an unelected - and untouchable - fourth branch of state government.
The Republican also wrangled with Democrats who control both the state Senate and Legislature a literally historic compromise on property taxes. The deal caps municipal tax hikes at two percent a year. The cap has some significant loopholes, so it’s too soon to tell how far it will go in solving the crushing taxes that may well be the state’s biggest overall economy buster.
And, his in-your-face “Jersey” style, when tempered, is perfect for the state that often can’t get no respect. New Jerseyans loved it when he told reluctant summer tourists to “get the hell of the beach” in the face of a potentially deadly hurricane. As with President Obama, even people who disagree with Christie like the guy.
But as easily as Christie can be a teddy bear, he can turn grizzly.
Soon after his early legislative successes, he and Senate President Steve Sweeney of Gloucester County got into one of the ugliest name-calling bouts in recent memory. (To be fair, Sweeney used the harshest language, call the governor a “bully and a punk,” among other things.)
Christie also had harsh words for grandmotherly Loretta Weinberg, the Bergen County senator who has since been named majority leader, and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver of Newark. Lately, Christie is bickering with State Senators Ron Rice and Dick Codey of Essex County. Former Acting-Governor Codey is one of the most popular and clever men in state politics, and is even being urged by some to run against Christie in 2013.