New Jersey and the Veep pick
January 17th, 2012
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.)