Monday, June 03, 2013


Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey died today at age 89. After pausing briefly to express condolences, the political world turned to speculation about Lautenberg's replacement -- Governor Chris Christie gets to pick a temporary replacement until voters elect a new senator in November 2013 or November 2014 (it's still not clear when the election will take place).

In reaction to this, The Atlantic's usually astute Elspeth Reeve sees a dilemma for Christie where there really isn't one:
... it's yet another moment when what's good for Christie in 2013 might not be good for him in 2016. Christie, after all, is a Republican running a state that voted for President Obama by almost 18 points. "Replacing a Democrat with a Democrat and then saying the voters should decide what happens next in November would no doubt be very well-received by Democrats and moderates," The Washington Post's Sean Sullivan writes. But that would mean Republicans who are already annoyed with Christie and his Obama-hugging antics would disown him.

To understand the difficult position Christie's in, look at this two tweets: "What lucky Democrat will Democrat Chris Christie appoint to Sen. Frank Lautenberg's seat?" noted conservative thriller author Brad Thor asks. Salon's Joan Walsh adds: "Hey Dem donors giving to Chris Christie: will you rethink if he picks a Republican to replace Lautenberg?"

... "Rumors have abounded for months that Christie was considering appointing Cory Booker," Politico's Maggie Habermann and Ginger Gibson write. "However, sources close to both men have insisted this scenario makes no sense for either of them."

... if Christie appoints a right-winger, he angers the Democrats he needs to be reelected....
Everyone, please take a deep breath. Christie is not going to appoint Cory Booker. Christie is not going to appoint any Democrat. And Democrats will still vote for him in November when he runs for reelection.

Before Hurricane Sandy hit, Chris Christie had spent most of his term as governor bashing Democrats, liberals, and especially labor, in as boorish a fashion as possible. Here's what he said about President Obama about a week before the hurricane reached the Jersey Shore:
Speaking before supporters at Ball Office Products in Richmond Friday, Christie ripped into President Barack Obama.

"You've been living inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for the last four years," Christie said. "If you don't think you can change Washington from inside the White House let's give you the plane ticket back to Chicago you've earned."

Christie riled up the Richmond crowd saying that Obama is arrogant for believing he can't change Washington politics.

"If he believes that, then what the hell is he doing asking for another four years?" Christie said. "We're happy to give you a bus ticket to the outside, Mr. President."

Christie added that Obama is "blindly walking around the White House looking for a clue."

"He's like a man wandering around a dark room, hands up against the wall, clutching for the light switch of leadership and he just can't find it."
That was October 19, 2012. Twelve days later, Christie and Obama got together to assess storm damage -- and Democrats swooned, forgetting that speech and nearly three years of Democrat-, liberal-, and labor-bashing. To me, watching it was like watching a battered spouse take back an abuser after seeing one bouquet of flowers in the abuser's hand.

But that's Dems for ya. By January, Christie was polling better among Democrats than among Republicans nationwide.

Just meeting with Obama every so often -- there they were again last week -- has Christie ready to blow away an actual Democrat in his reelection bid. He doesn't have to change his policies. He doesn't have to change his rhetoric. All he has to do is throw a few bro-hugs at the president and Dems' hearts skip a beat. So why should we expect Dems to care if Christie names a Republican to fill the rest of Lautenberg's term, as long as the Republican is at least a few inches to the left of Ted Cruz (as nearly all New Jersey Republicans are)? BooMan's right -- he could easily pick Christie Whitman or Tom Kean, both of whom are seen as "nice" Republicans by many Democrats.

Christie's could have a harder time winning back Republicans for 2016 -- but maybe he's not planning to run, or maybe he figures he'll start tacking right again ten minutes after the polls close in November. The GOP's last two presidential nominees had to overcome RINO reputations, so why not Christie? He knows he's good at bamboozling an entire party's voters.


Monty said...

Christie has always been an opportunistic asshole. But I don't think anyone could say he wasn't doing his job by pleading for federal aid in the wake of Sandy.

That doesn't make him a RINO...but certainly doesn't make him a friend of liberal Democrats.

What Digby said.

Victor said...

Christie is also the Governor who turned down billions of Federal dollars to build more train tunnels between his state and NY.

No matter who he decides to have fill Senator Lautenberg's seat, Democrats who are listening to the traffic report on the radio on their way into, and out of, NY, sitting in horrendous traffic every day, at the GW Bridge, and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels, ought to keep that in mind.

And yeah, he's putting in a Republican.
The only question will be, how rabid will that individual, be?

Four Bs said...

It doesn't really make a difference who he puts in the Senate. It's still going to be a broken, dysfunctional institution, and there's no hope of anything good coming out of it for the foreseeable future.

Mainstreet Liberal said...

And why shouldn't an entire party's voters be "bamboozled?" The undisputed leader of that party is the President, and Christie has the Barack Obama Seal of Approval.