NJ Star-Ledger Says “We blew this one” in Endorsing Christie for Re-Election
Newspaper editorial boards and editors don’t usually retract endorsements or express regrets about positions they original took after a great deal of deliberation. It does happen, but not often. In a column, the New Jersey Star-Ledger Editorial Page Editor Tom Moran has now expressed regret for endorsing Christie, but he leaves the door open (slightly) for endorsing him again.
Most notable and enlightening is a paragraph where Moran notes that Christie has tried to bully New Jersey’s largest newspaper over the years: “. Christie has boycotted the editorial board for years, an attempt to bully us into more loving coverage, ” he wrote. “So we’ve had a front-row view of what a creep he can be.”
He noted that the paper came under fire for its endorsement, including from MSNBC’s Ranchael Maddow: “An endorsement is not a love embrace. It is a choice between two flawed human beings. And the winner is often the less bad option. But yes, we blew this one. When the endorsement ran, I could not get a cup of coffee in the People’s Republic of Montclair without my liberal friends taunting me. Back then, I pushed back.”
The editorial writers, he noted, were under no illustions about Christie’s personality and political character: “Yes, we knew Christie was a bully. But we didn’t know his crew was crazy enough to put people’s lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor. We didn’t know he would use Hurricane Sandy aid as a political slush fund. And we certainly didn’t know that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was sitting on a credible charge of extortion by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.”
And the editorial board was split: ” We regard Christie as the most overrated politician in the country, at least until now, a man who is better at talking than governing. We criticized him for trashing the working poor, for his tea party approach to the environment, for his opposition to gay marriage and a livable minimum wage. And so on.”
But, he wrote, Christie had some solid accomplishments as governor.
Meanwhile, Moran points out, Christie’s descent from the perceived to rank of GOPers for the 2016 Republican nomination opens the door for more conservative Tea Party affiliated candidates to grab the party’s national nod. He concludes:
If one of the tea party favorites gets the Republican nomination, then the country is at risk. Because as we have just seen, one scandal can flip the board in politics. What if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, and some dark secret emerges about her tenure as secretary of state? How does President Rand Paul sound to you?
Now ask yourself this: If the Republican primary came to a choice between Paul and Christie, which candidate would you endorse?
At the risk of repeating a mistake, I’d pick Christie in that primary, even now. And if you think that makes some sense, then you understand how excruciating the endorsement process can be.