Monday, July 23, 2012

Whither Christie's "Jersey comeback"?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the "Jersey comeback" he admiringly speaks of has hit a snag -- last month, New Jersey's unemployment rate hit a two-year high of 9.6%.

That puts it in the inglorious company of California, Nevada, and Rhode Island, which are the only states with a worse unemployment rate.

It's not surprising, then, that he seems to be rethinking his message.

Last week, he swapped the “Jersey Comeback” banner that serves as a backdrop for his town hall meetings for a new one, promising an “Endless Summer of Tax Relief.”

Christie is still incredibly popular in the state, but headlines about rising unemployment can rip the bottom out of your popularity awfully quickly.

This brings up a problem Christie still seems to be weighing -- whether to run for reelection or not.

David Catanese
wrote a tremendous piece on this last week, and the interesting thing about Jersey is that Democrats are gun shy about running against Christie, but Christie himself seems to be a little gun shy about running for reelection and governing for another term -- particularly, if he wants to run for president in 2016 or 2020.

Becoming a guest contributor on the Fox News Channel, hitting the lucrative speaking circuit or setting up a federal political action committee might be a more enticing way for the 49-year-old former U.S. attorney to stay relevant.

“There’s a building body of people saying he doesn’t want to do another five years of this grind. You can see the wear and tear on him,” said Democratic state Sen. Dick Codey, who ascended to governor after the resignation of Gov. Jim McGreevey in 2004.