Chris Christie, resign for N.J.'s sake | Editorial

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
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on March 03, 2016


Gov. Chris Christie has made it abundantly clear that governing New Jersey is a distant second priority for him, far behind the demands of his personal ambition.

He has answered every crisis with neglect during his disastrous second term.

Atlantic City is about to go bankrupt, and yet he sat on a reform package for six months without explanation. The transit system is in disrepair, with our link to New York City vulnerable to a crippling breakdown, and he watches passively as the transit fund drifts towards bankruptcy. New Jersey's fiscal crisis is the nation's second worst, and he has charted no viable path towards a political deal.

All this is infuriating when you consider that Christie possesses the political talent to steer the state towards safer ground. He made that clear in his first term, when he scored substantial wins on a centrist agenda.

But if his first term showed that he has the talent, his second term has shown that he lacks the character.

His craven endorsement of Donald Trump is only the final blow, the moment when he lost any last shred of credibility.  His fulsome praise of Trump, after his stinging condemnations only a few weeks ago, is impossible to believe.

Christie's distraught expression as he stood with Trump during the press conference on Super Tuesday showed that even he can barely stomach this act of hypocrisy and opportunism. He looked like he had been taken hostage, or hit in the head.

If you wonder how he could muscle himself through such a phony moment, remember that he had practice.

Over the last year he has flipped his position on guns, immigration, and a full menu of other core issues. He has lied over and over, about Bridgegate, the budget, his imaginary friendship with the King of Jordan, and so on. It has become a habit, one that drains his credibility like grains of sand slipping through an hourglass.

Where does this leave the state?

We face two more years under a governor that is wandering in the wilderness, looking for some escape hatch from New Jersey so that he can join the bigger game. His disinterest in this state's most pressing problems is breathtaking. Political and business leaders say they can't get his attention. He was gone 72 percent of the days in 2015, and even more often during the start of this year. In any other job, he would have been fired long ago.

How much time will he spend in coming months campaigning for Trump? Will he continue to bill New Jersey taxpayers for his security detail, in effect forcing us all to make an indirect contribution to a bigot when we pay our taxes?

We asked those questions, and of course he will not answer.

Enough. It is time for the man to resign.

Given that he's neglected his job, that he won't promise to change course even now, and that he has sacrificed every scrap of his credibility in this craven grab at national power, he should at least have the decency to get out of the way.

Better to hand off to Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, and hold a special election this fall, as provided in the Constitution. That would have the added benefit of allowing the next governor to start work on repairs a year early.

The challenge, of course, is that Christie is not looking at the state's best interest. Christie is all about Christie. Anyone who can't see that by now hasn't been paying attention.

Impeachment is not justified, though, given that he has committed no high crimes or misdemeanors.

Our hope is that the calls for his resignation grow into a roar, that it includes Republican voices, and that Christie finds some face-saving way to step aside.

Failing that, we can only hope that the he takes a moral inventory of his own conduct and changes course. If not, it will be time to consider a recall election.

The best answer for New Jersey would be for the governor to quit on his own. It's time for fresh leadership in this state. Christie has done enough damage.

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