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Opinion: Why Chris Christie would Thump Cory Booker in Governor's Race

Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 11:25 AM

If I were Newark mayor Cory Booker, I wouldn’t run against Chris Christie unless it were in a 5K. In Quinnipiac’s new poll, Christie trounces him in a prospective 2013 gubernatorial matchup, 53 percent to 35 percent. That’s not a promising result for him in a state that President Obama won a month ago.

It makes sense for a rising Democratic star like Booker to seek a statewide office. He spoke at the Democratic National Convention and has a million followers on Twitter. But in all the media’s swooning over his personal heroics – he once rescued a neighbor from a house fire – Booker’s actual political accomplishments have been somewhat overrated, and a tough campaign against a successful incumbent like Christie could make that more apparent.      

One item on Booker’s trumped-up resume is school reform, his supposed signature achievement. Booker made headlines for his 2010 announcement on Oprah that he’d convinced Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to give him a $100 million grant to “transform” Newark schools. But Newark schools have been under state control since 1995. And most of the improvements that have happened on the ground are the results of changes that Christie, not Booker, made at the state level, like reforming the tenure rules for teachers.

Another is Booker’s claim to have lowered the crime rate in Newark. Over the summer, Booker’s office bragged to the press that homicides had dropped over 20 percent in his first term. To be fair, the murder rate has dropped there. Newark’s motto used to be, “Duck!” But the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report suggests that Newark benefited from a national trend. According to that data, homicides dipped 15 percent nationwide in the same period. 

This is the kind of stuff that would start to make Booker’s resume look thin in Christie’s campaign ads – or God forbid in a debate with Christie. The biggest obstacle to a Booker gubernatorial bid, though, might not be his resume, but Christie’s. 

To wit, it’ll be hard to convince people that Christie hasn’t done a lot for New Jersey. When the state budget headed for a $2.2 billion shortfall, for instance, Christie used the line-item veto to cut a billion off the top, some of it controversial, special interest groups be damned. The state legislature made headlines for overriding one of those cuts. But most were left in place. That’s a stark contrast to the apparent nonchalance of President Obama and Congress about going a trillion dollars over budget in Washington.

Speaking of Washington, it’ll be hard to convince people that Christie hasn’t looked out for the state’s interests there as well. When the US Department of Education denied New Jersey’s application for $400 million in Race to the Top funding because of a clerical error, for instance, the governor held a press conference to expose the program’s apparent red-tape nightmare as an example of “the stuff that drives people nuts about government.” When it turned out that his own education commissioner might have been part of the problem, Christie fired him too.

This is the Christie brand now: He acts like the post-partisan leader that Obama could’ve been. Booker damaged his burgeoning maverick brand with a YouTube video in which he back-peddled on prior criticism of the Obama campaign’s Bain Capital attacks under duress from the White House. But Christie cruised to 72 percent public approval rating when he left his own candidate in the lurch to tour Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath with President Obama. 

So to recap here: Christie has handled the teachers’ union. He’s handled the state debt. He’s handled the hurricane. With the bipartisan support that Christie seems to have now, I’d give the same advice to Booker that a Bergen Record columnist did: Run for U.S. Senate.  

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Comments [6]

Bill from NJ

The writer of this post doesn't know even what he is talking about.

Dec. 02 2012 08:48 PM
Louis from Jersey Shore

I want to see how his GOP friends treat us for Sandy. If he obtains the $$ I'll vote for him. But if I hears that austerity BS , then things change.

Dec. 01 2012 09:34 AM
Bonju Patten from warren county NJ 07882

I didn't have to read the entire article to know that the writer is prejudice against Mayor Booker because of race and political party. But I did read the article and I laughed like a maniac genus to think that this writer had not done his homework or any research at all on the bulbous Gov who would dare to run again for gov of NJ after lying his fat ass off the last 4 years. I encourage Mayor Booker to run; his record is electrifying and his personality and convictions are for all of NJ not just Newark. He is a man of the people much like POTUS Obama and I would encourage Mayor Booker to go all the way to the White House.

For one thing Gov Christie has done nothing to help the common man in NJ as the property taxes go spiraling upwards even in poor Warren County where it is a puffy $6000 a year for what? The dumbest kids I've seen in all my life?

Please, his soft 2% tax was a cushion for greedy Municipalities like Washington Boro 07882 to rest their fat asses upon. $441.64 later a month plus a hefty $52 bucks for sewer and I am ready to move out of my dad's investment in this hell hole of a house.

Fuck Christie I hope he implodes on tv so we can all clap at his demise. As far as anything else - I sincerely hope to see 1000 years of Democrats ruling the UNITED STATES. We aren't perfect but we are better than the Republictards.

Nov. 30 2012 06:42 PM
Denise from NJ

Considering you have NO crystal ball, it's a safe bet to say your opinion amounts to a hill of beans!

Nov. 30 2012 11:12 AM
Jerry Peragine

If Christie has any national ambitions, it will have to be as a Democrat. He is through as a Republican. Republicans will never forget, nor should they.

Nov. 29 2012 04:13 PM
Mike from NY

I agree that he shouldn't take on Christie. I think instead he should look to him for some mentorship. In the non-political world, we establish mentor-mentee relationships with people we don't 100% agree with all the time. Christie, despite people's reservations, has acted earnestly in the interest of the state. Booker seems to want to do the same. Booker should look at Christie's success as a signal of what people want from their leaders on a political level. Christie could use some of Booker's finesse when it comes to dealing with the people directly. That is the one issue I have with this article. Booker, for his shortcoming in the political sphere, is a good politician. He serves his people as directly and immediately as he is able. He tries to understand their situation. He is emphatic.

I'd rather see a Jersey Ticket to the White House in 2020 than a Christie ticket or a Booker ticket. If those two can't play ball though, I think Cuomo and Booker could make some waves on the national level.

Nov. 29 2012 12:59 PM

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