EDITORIAL: The excitement was building at a Seton Hall Law School reunion last year when the man of the night, Christopher Christie, finally showed up. As he waded into an adoring throng, the man who would become this state’s 55th governor looked up — and saw me. He made a beeline, shook my hand, and gave me props for a review I’d written of a Bruce Springsteen concert two nights before.
That’s the kind of guy Chris Christie — the corruption buster — is. The smartest legal mind in the world? I don’t know. But when it comes to people — average, ordinary people — the guy isn’t a stuffed shirt. First he listens to the brilliant minds he gathers around him, then he consults the common-sense average guy to be sure.
And that’s because he truly is one of us, a guy who’s lived the Jersey life — going to the Shore, the ballgames, the concerts. Still, a few years shy of 50, he’s looking toward better days.
That said, let’s not lose sight of the larger picture: The spending discipline he espouses sends a direct message to Washington, D.C.PROPERTY: CLIFFVIEW PILOT LLC
It also speaks directly to the culture of New Jersey, one that once took political corruption for granted — until Chris came along; one that once took the media at its word — until Chris came along; one that tolerated the worst kind of defamation and chalked it up to the way the game is played.
Congratulations, big guy. You outworked the other(s). You withstood the nastiness, the lies, the deceit. And you kept your word: You didn’t crawl into the gutter with those who belittled you. You called the Corzine camp out on its tactics. In fact, you deserved more than just a concession tonight. You are owed an apology.
“Through their overwhelming support tonight,” our governor-elect said during his victory speech, “the people of New Jersey said, ‘No more negative campaigns. The people of New Jersey decided enough is enough.”
Corzine’s concession didn’t come till about 10:40 p.m., although the numbers long earlier had shown Christie the winner by just under 50 percent. At that point, with 95 percent of the precincts reporting, Christie passed the 1 million mark in votes, outpolling the soon-to-be-ex-governor by roughly 85,000 votes. Corzine didn’t reach 1 million till long after the contest had been decided.
Then, with “Born to Run” blaring, Chris ascended the stage at the Parsippany Hilton. He tried to stem the cheers but had to relent. Then he finally got to let it out, in a Springsteen-styled:
“Hey, New Jersey. We did it!”
After giving props to former governors Tom Kean and Christie Whitman, as well as Republican State Chairman Jay Webber, the former U.S. Attorney for New Jersey thanked his wife, his four kids, and his father, among others. “I think you all know my brother Todd,” he added.
Newark-born, Livingston-raised, Chris has been a Jersey guy through and through.
“This election was, and is, about the future about the state we love, the great state of New Jersey,” he told the raucous crowd. “For me, and most of you, we’ve already had a great New Jersey life. What we want to do is make sure that everyone has the opportunity for that great New Jersey life — but more important, that our children and our grandchildren have the opportunity for that great New Jersey life.
“I stand here full of hope and expectation… and [Lt. Gov.-elect Kim Guadagno] and I are going to get to work to make that happen, starting tomorrow. Because tomorrow, together, we begin to take back New Jersey.”
People he met on the campaign trail “do not want the government to fix every problem. They just want a hand up so they can build opportunity for themselves….,” Chris said.
“I want my children to raise your children to live in this state,” he added. “I want YOUR children to raise their children to live in this state.”
He promised changes “without regard to policy or politics,” or to race or gender, or where in New Jersey you’re from.
“No matter whose idea it is, if it’s a good one, Kim and I will get it done…. Let’s turn the page, put the past behind us, and let us start a new era of hope and optimism.”
“Beginning tomorrow,” Chris Christie said, “we are going to pick Trenton up and turn it upside down.”
The former Morris County freeholder then left the stage to Springsteen’s “Badlands.”
Job creation by government reduction — “a message of optimism” — obviously resonated across the state. And despite the efforts of the Corzine campaign to boost independent Chris Daggett’s numbers, in an effort to siphon votes from Christie, voters in suburban counties made the difference.
Even in Bergen County, which Corzine’s people for some reason counted on because of Loretta Weinberg’s presence, the vote was virtually split. Maybe the fractious history of the Democrats in Bergen that had something to do with that.
Or perhaps it ran deeper, in places you might not hear people discuss openly: Maybe we saw a backlash thanks to the loyalty Bergen’s Democrats still have to the people Weinberg helped authorities remove from office.
Corzine’s overall message: More taxes, more spending, more borrowing, MORE OF THE SAME.
Chris, in turn, said he would take the responsibility for setting priorities, particularly when it comes to cutting government, and going after the forces that have put state taxpayers in such a bind.
Technically, he’s got four years. Realistically, he knows he has to move fast.
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