Governor Chris Christie’s choice of running mate for his 2013 reelection campaign will have little to do with Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno’s performance during the first Christie term. By all accounts Guadagno has done her job well. She’s been a good soldier, loyal and obedient surrogate and fine ambassador to the business community.
The hint of scandal that NJ Watchdog has been pushing about Guadagno during her days as Monmouth County Sheriff will have little impact on her status on the ticket. Just like U.S. Senator Robert Menendez’s prostitution scandal, nobody in the media cares about the story Mark Lagerkvitz has been pushing for over two years about Gaudagno arranging for Mickey Donovan being able to collect a police pension while acting as her law enforcement chief in Monmouth. If Trenton Democrats were going to make an issue of Guadagno’s role in Donovan’s double dipping, there probably would already have been hearings in the Senate or Assembly into the matter already.
The imminent decision about Kim Guadagno’s future is all about 2016 and 2017 politics. It has little to do with the 2013 gubernatorial election.
There has been quiet speculation that Guadagno would not be the second term LG for months. A story was floated over the summer that she would become New Jersey’s U.S. Attorney if Mitt Romney was elected president.
If Christie runs for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination he will become a part time governor sometime in 2015. If he becomes the front runner for the nomination he could resign early 2016. Whether he resigns or not, New Jersey would need an acting governor who is really in charge. As often as Guadagno has been acting governor over the past three years, no one believes she was really in charge. If Christie runs for president in 2016, his lt. governor will be running for governor in 2017 as an incumbent, effectively.
Christie probably hasn’t made a decision about 2016. Yet, he undoubtably wants to keep his options open and to leave New Jersey is strong hands should he decide to run.
If Guadagno is the LG candidate in 2013, that would be a signal that Christie believes that she is ready to be governor and ready to lead the NJ Republican Party.
Bergen Record columnist Charles Stile posted a column yesterday speculating about possible Guadango replacements. Stile named Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan and six state senators as possible future acting governors; Joe Kyrillos, Tom Kean, JR, Jennifer Beck, Diane Allen, Dawn Marie Addiego and Kevin O’Toole.
Christie chose Guadagno over Donovan, Allen and Beck in 2009. He’s not likely to choose any of them as his running mate in 2013. Choosing Kyrillos would create a context for Joe’s lackluster campaign against Menendez for U.S. Senate this year. Other than Kean, son of the former governor and the 2006 U.S. Senate nominee, none of the other mentions significant statewide name recognition. Kryillos just spent a year and $5 million building statewide name recognition.