By Art Gallagher
Last week while Governor Phil Murphy was violating his own Executive Orders and keeping his knee on the neck of New Jersey’s small businesses, former Governor Chris Christie took two significant steps in his political comeback.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Murphy’s competence to lead a diverse state of 9 million people was seriously questioned by leaders of both parties. Democrat and Republican leaders alike bemoaned the fact that his inner circle was dominated by Ivy League educated millennials with little life experience and by public employee union leaders. He could not get his agenda of increasing taxes and spending while legalizing marijuana passed by a legislature of his own party. His #MeToo record with women who worked for his campaign, an on his professional soccer team, is horrendous.
Sure, Murphy’s poll numbers soared when the pandemic hit. Every leader not named Trump has seen their poll numbers soar at the beginning a crisis.
But Murphy’s actions have not met the moment. His handling of nursing homes has been a disaster that cost many blessed souls’ their lives. His “data determines dates” mantra defies credibility. COVID-19 cases would spike and people would die if we shopped at Community Appliance instead of Best Buy. People would die if we allowed restaurants to open on Friday June 12 instead of Monday June 15. Restaurants can’t be trusted. Mayors can’t be trusted. Tenafly and Buena Vista need to have the same rules for re-opening. It’s OK to protest racial inequality and police brutality but it is not OK to protest Murphy’s Executive Orders. Murphy knows best.
It has been two weeks since anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests have occurred throughout New Jersey. State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan brags at Murphy’s briefings that over 10,000 people have peacefully protested.
There has been no spike on COVID-19 cases. Yet New Jersey’s restaurants and small businesses were closed this weekend.
Murphy attended two protests last weekend. He did not social distance. He lied about people wearing masks. He took off his own mask when he thought the cameras were not pointing his way. Murphy’s attendance at the protests may prove to be his beach chair moment.
“Beach chair moment” refers to the most memed beach chair in social media history; Chris Christie at Island Beach State Park during the 4th of July weekend in 2017 when the rest of New Jersey’s State Parks were closed because Christie, then governor and a former presidential candidate, and the legislature did not pass a State Budget by June 30.
Memes of Murphy’s photos from the protests are not nearly as popular as Christie’s beach chair moment because Murphy’s protest photos are not funny. But Murphy’s moment has badly damaged his already shaky credibility. His popularity, as measured by polls, is likely to plummet. His double standards and heavy handed treatment of small business owners will make governing very difficult when his absolute power has ceased. His reelection prospects next year have been damaged significantly.
While Murphy was keeping small businesses closed and suing his friends in Asbury Park for daring to defy him, Christie seized the moment.
Christie and former First Lady Mary Pat Christie formed a charity to give $3000 forgivable loans to New Jersey small businesses. The Christie’s seeded NJ30dayfund with $100,000 of their own money and pledged to cover the costs of processing the loans/grants. They received millions worth of free media for the efforts. NJ30dayfund has the potential to earn Christie enormous goodwill.
More importantly, Christie’s bi-partisan effort to reform the Camden Police Department, which started while he was U.S. Attorney and Jon Corzine was govenor, according to the Star Ledger’s Paul Mulshine, have positioned Christie in the middle of the national debate for police reform.
Watch Christie speaking on This Week about the police reforms he implemented in Camden.
Chris Christie’s comeback is looking pretty good this week. There’s little question in my mind that he will run for president again. Could be in 2024, 2028, or 2032. Maybe all three.
The question that is more fun to ponder: Will he run for Governor in 2021?