Democrats give Christie’s presidential campaign a big gift
Gov. Chris Christie will formally launch his presidential campaign at Livingston High School on Tuesday. His speech will likely boast of his accomplishments, including his recent vetoes of more than 1.6 billion from the 2016 budget approved by the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
According to a pair of political experts, the governor has New Jersey's Democrats to thank for his latest wins.
"Right before he's about to go up to New Hampshire to court those anti-tax Republicans, he gets to veto a millionaires' tax and he gets to veto a business tax. This is the kind of stuff that he's going to be able to live off of and launch his presidential campaign," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
On June 25, Democrats approved a millionaires' tax increase and a corporate business tax hike. The increases were estimated to generate roughly $1.1 billion that could be used to fully fund the public workers' pension and health benefits system. Christie vetoed both.
"The Democrats are handing the Christie presidential campaign the biggest gift they could give him," Murray stated. "It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever."
Politics is at play in the state too because Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney is a likely gubernatorial candidate in 2017, according to Fairleigh Dickinson University Political Science Professor Peter Woolley. Sweeney had to push the tax hikes through the Legislature to show voters he cares about the poor and working class.
Woolley agreed that giving Christie the bills he could veto was helpful for the governor's presidential aspirations.
"If you're the governor you have a responsibility to play the script for the entire Republican Party, but you also have an ambition to run for president and that means not caving in to any more taxes. It's a glove that fits the hand very nicely," Woolley said.
With just days left before his official announcement, Christie launched his presidential campaign website. The new website shows the Republican governor’s name along with the slogan, “Telling it like it is.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.