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New Jersey and the Veep pick

Timothy Kincaid

January 17th, 2012

rings *

One of the Republican Party’s rising stars is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. So much so that in the introductory episode of her new show, Oprah Winfrey interviews Christie to ask why he has not yet run for President. And, as such, Christie’s name is always in the mix when the talking heads on Fox ponder who will be Mitt Romney’s running mate.

This possibility is something that should be remembered as we go into the legislative year. Democratic leadership in the State have introduced a marriage bill and have mostly asserted that the votes are present to win equality this year. And the ongoing assumption is that Christie would veto such a bill. But the governor has played an unexpected card by being coy about his response to such a bill, should it reach his desk.

This is not a politician known for his subtleties or lack of direct response, so this is remarkably uncharacteristic. And I wonder if his non-committal statement has any basis in a desire to be on the ticket.

At this point, I feel fairly confident in predicting that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. And with the party in disarray, he will need to select a running mate who balances out the team and appeals to the “conservative base”. Further, he will have to announce this running mate fairly soon and not wait until the national convention at the end of August if he has any hope of building momentum in the “anyone but that Mormon” states.

Christie would be an interesting choice. While he does have a reputation as “a conservative”, on gay issues he is significantly more moderate than most prominent Republicans. He doesn’t “favor” marriage, but his opposition is expressed more in terms of what he does support (civil unions with all of the rights, benefits and obligations of marriage) than in terms of why gay people are a “threat” or how marriage should be “protected”.

But the open question is what such a Veep selection might mean to the marriage bill.

Would it be advantageous to position Christie as more supportive on equality issues than Romney in the same way that Cheney was to Bush? Or would a veto of the marriage bill fire up and energize the base? But would a veto and the public reaction reinforce the image of the Republican Party as homophobic and hostile to the will of the people – especially with young voters – and cost the party more than it could gain? Or is the issue too volatile to keep Christie in consideration?

These are all questions that Republican strategists will consider.

But there are also secondary scenarios to consider. One possibility is that Christie would accept the vice president run and would resign as governor so as to avoid his state administration from impacting his candidacy. While this is not a requirement of a seeker of higher office, a Democrat controlled legislature could create embarrassing situations designed to weaken his public image.

Stepping into his place would be Kim Guadagno, the state’s Lieutenant Governor. In 2009, Guadagno stated that she was in agreement with Christie:

Guadagno said she and Christie “agree on virtually every issue,” mentioning same-sex marriage, where they both want to maintain the current civil-union structure but do not want to extend the term “marriage” to gay couples.

But times change, polls change, positions change, and perhaps Guadagno is open to such change. She has been known to attend gay events and it is not unusual for Republican women to be supportive on marriage.

Another – albeit remote – possibility could be the temporary assumption of gubernatorial duties by Guadagno while Christie is out of the state. Although it would be an absurd notion that a Lieutenant Governor would sign a bill that was staunchly opposed by a Governor of the same party while he was temporarily away, it could be presented as such and political ‘reality’ has room for nonsensical assertions.

It still remains most likely that the legislature will pass the bill and that Governor Christie will promptly veto it as the choreography of this particular dance has been written, but we should keep our eyes open for other possibilities and argue our case should any chance – however peculiar – arise.

(* – an earlier version of this commentary included a pic that I “borrowed”. The source will remain unidentified other than their initials being RCC and that they are obnoxiously and arrogantly anti-equality. However, the pic was just two perfect – two identical wedding bands of the same size and when you looked at it you realized that they unintentionally were both for men. This replacement pic is compiled from a ring I saw on Gemvara.com. I have no idea who they are, but they use language that feels very inclusive (e.g. “two souls”, “your union”) and they had some items that were reasonably priced without looking cheap.)

Comments

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Jack
January 17th, 2012 | LINK

Christie will not be the VP nominee. #1) He’s not a second banana. 2) Romney has problems with the GOP base of crazies. Running with another Northeastern perceived/relative moderate will not help him get out the crazy vote.

octobercountry
January 17th, 2012 | LINK

Isn’t there a third option—that Christie could do nothing with the bill, neither sign nor veto it, which would allow it to take effect after a certain number of days had passed?

I’ve heard that he may be a serious contender in 2016, and if he’s looking toward the future he must see the writing on the wall—that acceptance of marriage equality will only grow. If he doesn’t take any direct action with this bill, he won’t necessarily be seen as totally pro-gay at present, and not totally anti-gay four years in the future.

Well, I’m probably being overly hopeful that this could happen…

JohnAGJ
January 17th, 2012 | LINK

In addition to what Jack said, there is also a question of what Christie brings to the ticket. Will New Jersey go Republican? I don’t think so. With doubts that Romney can bring Massachusetts into the GOP column, I doubt he’d want to risk his Veep likewise failing to win his own home state as well. If Romney gets the nomination he’s going to have to pick a Southerner or Westerner who is acceptable enough to the social cons. Someone non-white and/or female would no doubt help.

Ryan
January 17th, 2012 | LINK

We just all watched the same Republican primaries, right? The Republicans are stumbling all over themselves to go further and further to the right, socially. The nominees are far more anti-gay than they even were four years ago. There’s literally no chance at all that Christie could sign this bill and then expect to get picked as a VP nominee, and everyone would see through any attempts to be conveniently out of the state while the Lt. Governor signs it. Even Romney, the supposed moderate, signed NOM’s anti-gay pledge.
And this talk of the country becoming more and more supportive of gay rights is true, but that’s moving *very* slowly on the right side of the aisle, and then even among the few Republicans who support total equality (28%, according to Gallup), they’re unlikely to actually factor that in to which Republican candidate they vote for. Meanwhile, the majority of Republicans who are anti-gay equality will damn sure remember not to vote for Christie in 2016 or 2020, should he sign this bill.

Jay Jonson
January 18th, 2012 | LINK

Christie will not be Romney’s running mate. More likely are McDonnell of Virginia and Rubio of Florida, both states crucial to a Romney victory. New Jersey will not vote Republican in the Presidential election even if Christie is on the ticket, and his selection would royally piss off the Republican Christianists. Romney doesn’t have to balls to pick him.

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