Christie, Lautenberg feud leaves N.J. residents with one last option

As Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Gov. Chris Christie continue to squabble like a couple of school boys with a crush on the same girl, I’m waiting for Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame to pop up wearing a army suit to decry this whole affair.

This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.

As Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Gov. Chris Christie continue to squabble like a couple of school boys with a crush on the same girl, I keep waiting for Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame to pop up wearing an army suit to decry this whole affair.

“Right, this is entirely too silly!”

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Last week, the feud between Christie and Lautenberg reached a fever pitch during a hearing on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s recent toll hikes, set to reach $15 to enter Manhattan by 2015. Lautenberg sought to figure out if toll hikes were fair, considering the money was intended to help fund the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) rail project that Christie killed.

Christie stalwart Bill Baroni, a political appointee who heads The Port Authority, rattled back that Lautenberg had long taken advantage of a board perk that allowed him to cross all bridges and tunnels for free.

A perk Lautenberg, who seems to enjoy New York hot dogs more than Jersey pizza, availed himself of 284 times.

The shame!


Always willing to kick someone when they’re down, Christie quickly swooped in afterwards and called the longtime Democrat “an embarrassment to the state.” He’s also called Lautenberg a “political hack” and suggested it might be time for the 88-year-old Senator to retire. 

It’s not as if Lautenberg is blameless or remained above the fray. After all, he referred to Christie as “the king of liars” for blaming cost overruns that didn’t exists for killing the tunnel project.

In addition, his suggestion to Baroni that the issue of waste and patronage at The Port Authority is suddenly a Republican problem is laughable.

And so on and so forth.

As folks in New Jersey struggle to find work and afford their outrageous property taxes (which magically haven’t gone down as Christie promised), it’s insulting that part of our hard-earned money goes to pay these two bumbling buffoons to snipe one another. 

It’s weird witnessing this as an outsider.

Aside from his own bravado and inability to articulate himself well, Lautenberg justifiably seeks some public scrutiny in two areas I feel New Jersyans deserve real answers — the killing of the ARC tunnel and the proposed takeover of Rutgers Camden by Rowan University. 

Both of these seem worth even a cursory level of investigation, considering the major impact to the state. But Christie seems to dislike consensus or even openness, preferring his “my way or the highway approach” that suited Julius Caesar so well.

I’ve read several editorials around the state attempting to play down the feud, saying it’s simply “politics as usual.” That’s sort-of the point- New Jersey residents rarely seem to get the government they want or deserve. And instead of trying to fix things, Christie has simply decided to up the rhetoric, shifting petty political squabbles into full-on MMA fights. 

Lautenberg, Christie, Corzine, McGreevey — the list goes on and on. Between the bluster of failed promises and the kinetic pace of taxpayer money being wasted, for many New Jerseyans there’s only one viable option left — leave.

I hear North Carolina is nice this time of year.


Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at, and follow him on twitter @RobTornoe.

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