Christie’s Trump endorsement stirs calls for his early departure
Gannett New Jersey’s newspapers created a political stir this week with a scathing editorial that suggests Gov. Chris Christie should resign or be recalled from office if he’s going to campaign for Donald Trump rather than return his focus to being governor.
A resignation appears unlikely, considering that Christie didn’t quit when he was a candidate for president.
Still, a handful of Republican lawmakers have suggested Christie step down if he’s going to be campaigning for the divisive but front-running Trump.
- Sen. Kip Bateman, R-Somerset, told PolitickerNJ: “He should decide what he wants to do. If he’s not going to be in the state, if he is going to spend an inordinate amount of time out of the state, he should reevaluate what he wants to do.”
- Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, told the Asbury Park Press editorial board: “If he is going to go on the campaign trail with Donald Trump, he cannot continue to serve as our governor. The governorship of the state of New Jersey is more than a full-time job.”
- Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, R-Somerset, told Politico New Jersey: “This endorsement concerns me in that it could mean he’ll be out of state a great deal again. If that’s the case, it’s time for him to really give consideration for what’s in the best interests of New Jersey and step down and let [Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno] be governor.”
- Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, R-Monmouth, told the APP: “He needs to choose. He’s got to choose. It was reasonable that he was given a great deal of leeway when he ran for president, because you could argue that New Jersey could benefit if he was elected. But what he’s doing now is completely different.”
Christie, on Monday’s “Ask The Governor” program on New Jersey 101.5, said he will be in New Jersey more often going forward.
“Much more. Sure, much more,” Christie said. “And already have over the last two weeks. This is where I’ve been every day.”
After ending his campaign, Christie was in New Jersey for a little over two weeks. But he met secretly with Trump in New York last Thursday, then flew to Texas to endorse him last Friday. He campaigned with Trump on Saturday and Tuesday and remained out-of-state to start Wednesday.
The editorial’s other suggestion, a recall election, seems similarly unlikely, if only because of the logistical and political hurdles.
New Jersey’s constitution says that in order for a recall election to be held, a petition must be signed by 25 percent of the registered voters in the targeted official’s electoral district.
Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, D-Mercer, has proposed changing the law to lower the threshold to 25 percent of the voters who participated in the most recent general election, rather than 25 percent of all registered voters. This year that would mean a statewide recall petition would need 292,631 signatures.
The proposal has not moved in the Legislature since it was first proposed in 2012.
To recall a governor, a recall committee has 320 days to collect signatures. If the signatures aren’t collected and certified by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, in her role as secretary of state, by early September, the recall couldn’t make this year’s ballot. That would push it to the 2017 election, when voters are already choosing Christie’s replacement, or conceivably could require a costly special election.
If a recall election succeeds, a separate special election is later held to choose a successor.
Because of the high hurdles, recall elections are rarely attempted in New Jersey. In 2010, when an attempt was made to recall U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, the state Supreme Court ruled that the recall law and amendment were unconstitutional as applied to senators, as recalls of federal officials aren’t allowed under the United States Constitution.
House members are effectively immune from recall elections, as are members of the state Assembly, because they serve two-year terms. State law says recall efforts can’t begin until a full year into an elected official’s term, and by then a recall of someone serving a two-year term would be pointless.
Michael Symons has covered the Statehouse since 2000. He can be reached at email@example.com or @MichaelSymons_ on Twitter.