Experts: Christie to court national audience with State of the State address
Figuratively speaking, there will be two Chris Christie’s delivering the State of the State address before a special joint session of the Legislature on Tuesday. Political experts said there will be Gov. Chris Christie and there will be Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie.
“This address has national implications as well,” said Ben Dworkin, political science professor at Rider University. “The national media, which have been covering Christie in Iowa and New Hampshire and elsewhere, are going to be focused on how a man comes back to a state where he has a 30-something percent approval rating and sells his administration and talks about how great they are.”
A Monmouth University poll released in July 2015 revealed that 36 percent of New Jersey residents approved of the job Christie was doing, while 58 percent disapproved. Seventy-six percent felt Christie was more concerned about his own political future than he was with governing the state. Just 17 percent said he was putting New Jersey’s interests first.
“The national media is going to be looking to see what kinds of national themes or national insults he might throw the way toward his opponents in the presidential race. Everyone’s going to be looking to see how he says what he says,” Dworkin predicted.
Historically, a State of the State speech is primarily about touting successes and relaying priorities in a broad way. In his 2015 address, Christie talked about his travels around the country and what people were saying to him about New Jersey. That added more fuel to the fire for people who correctly predicted he would run for president.
Another political observer said it is likely that Garden State residents won't get much out of this year’s State of the State address.
“His audience, when he gives his State of the State this time will certainly be the national press and by extension Republican voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina,” explained Peter Woolley, a political science professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “Those are the people he wants to reach. That’s his real audience. I think right now the voters of New Jersey are just here to fill the room.”
New Jersey Democrats will seize on the fact if Christie’s address isn’t Jersey-centric, according to Woolley.
Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.