In the latest bit of well-intended legislation, state Sens. Ray Lesniak and Loretta Weinberg said last week they intend to introduce a bill to force Chris Christie to resign from his post as governor following the declaration of his presidential candidacy late last month.Months ago, we used this space to encourage Christie to set aside the governorship when he inevitably announced his intent to run. The problems New Jersey is faced with are incredibly complex — the economy is stagnant, employment growth remains tepid, the pension obligation is arguably in worse shape than when we last visited this topic, and on and on. These are not the sorts of challenges that a part-time chief executive can solve, and if Christie’s national aspirations are keeping him from addressing these problems — since he’s in New Hampshire more often than not — then he ought to step aside.
Wasting legislative energy on this is not the way to go, though. We don’t exactly have a surplus of governors beating a path to the White House — the last one to do it was Woodrow Wilson a century ago — so it’s a bit ridiculous to enact a law that prohibits Christie from doing this. What’s more ridiculous is expecting it to pass. Christie wields his veto pen like John Wayne with a six-shooter — incredibly fast and likely to put holes in whatever he takes aim at. There’s no chance a bill like that survives an override attempt, given that legislative Republicans have been unwilling to back Democrats on much more substantial issues.
The sponsors told NJ.com last week that the bill might be more about sending a message than getting it on the books. News flash: Christie got the message. He’s hounded everywhere he goes about how little time he spends in New Jersey, talking to New Jerseyans about New Jersey problems. He doesn’t care. What we find frustrating, particularly from a business perspective, is how the lieutenant governor has been silenced in all this.
The lieutenant governor position was created to ensure the state could operate effectively and efficiently when the governor is vacationing or on business out of state, yet Kim Guadagno has been given limited visibility in the post-Christie campaign world. She is well-liked by the business community as someone who knows about the regulatory burdens the state has in place and is reachable to discuss business, policy and incentives issues, so why isn’t she playing a more front-and-center role with Christie often on the road? Lawmakers, taxpayers and business owners should hold her office accountable and demand the administration make her a visible player in the problems the state is facing. At least then, the public will have a face to ask why our credit has been downgraded again, what the plan for Atlantic City is, and so on. And, at least in the case of executives, her phone number is no secret.