Larger-than-life in both personality and, well, physicality, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sports a record of accomplishment that matches his outsized characteristics. In the 3 short years since he was inaugurated as the Garden State’s Governor, Christie has enacted a statewide cap on property taxes, tenure reform for teachers, an expansion of charter schools, substantive changes to the state’s ailing public pension system, and consecutive balanced budgets without tax hikes, among many other laudable rectifications. Christie markets these reforms to the New Jersey public as a “toolkit,” but policy wonks will recognize these changes as a veritable smorgasbord of conservative policy recommendations; I doubt Christie would take kindly to comparisons to Santa Claus, but his “toolkit” looks like Christmas morning to movement conservatives not just in New Jersey, but across the country.
Christie has managed these feats despite Democratic majorities in both chambers of the State Legislature. He’s also staked out numerous political positions that are well to the right of the New Jersey electorate; for example, he’s vocally pro-life, becoming the first New Jersey Governor to speak at the Trenton March for Life, and vetoing multiple attempts to use state dollars to fund Planned Parenthood. He supports the traditional definition of marriage, and is an outspoken proponent of statewide referenda on the issue. His approach to gun control issues is essentially “state’s rights,” and he pardoned a man who broke one of New Jersey’s numerous gun control laws. Normally, adhering to such conservative positions would be political suicide in a deep blue state like New Jersey, but Governor Christie boasts an astronomically high 77% approval rating. Say what you will about his body mass – Chris Christie defies political gravity.
So what is Chris Christie’s secret? Simply put, by communicating with just about every political demographic, Christie has assembled a political fanbase as well-rounded as his physique. Independents and young voters admire his straightforward, oftentimes bombastic approach to communicating with New Jersey residents. His conservative cheerleaders adore his no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners approach to confronting his political opponents. Liberals and independents love his shameless embrace of bipartisanship and his willingness to call out the “crazies” in his own political party. There’s more than enough “red meat” here for someone of just about any political persuasion to feast on.
Given the Governor’s supersized political persona, it’s rather ironic that his position on immigration reform – an issue which has attained quite a high profile of its own in recent years – has been lost amid his meteoric ascendence to political stardom. It’s not as if he hasn’t made his views known: Christie opposes in-state tuition and driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, while also staunchly supporting comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship. He’s talked in front of Church groups lamenting the use of the term “illegal immigrant,” and the anti-immigration reform organization NumbersUSA assigned him an “F” rating for his “pro-amnesty” views.
Christie’s focus on fiscal issues and governmental reform likely overshadow his opinions on other issues, but as a pro-immigration reform Republican, I’m more than happy to count myself among Christie’s cadre of supporters. On the whole, his position on immigration-related matters is something that pro-immigration reform Republicans can rejoice over (as if his “common sense conservatism” didn’t give us reason enough!). Garden State residents are fortunate to have Chris Christie as their Governor. If only we could have someone like him in the Governor’s mansion here in Illinois…
Andy Kirchoff is the Illinois leader of Cafe con Leche Republicans.