For the second time in two weeks, Gov. Chris Christie has been shamed into coming back to New Jersey.
This time, it’s with his head hanging in defeat after finishing sixth place in the New Hampshire GOP primary, where he spent more time and money than any other candidate. He said he was going to be the state’s “leading governor” but was crushed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. He destroyed Marco Rubio in last Saturday’s debate, but ended up with almost 8,000 less votes. He finished two Republican contests earning exactly zero delegates.
You get the gist. Despite all his political gifts, the bully from New Jersey was ultimately beaten down by a xenophobic orangutan wearing a toupee.
So when he said Tuesday night that he and his wife Mary Pat were canceling campaign events in South Carolina and going home to New Jersey to “make a decision on our next step forward,” it doesn’t take a psychic to understand what the “telling it like it is” candidate meant.
The writing was on the wall even before he came out to speak. Reporters covering the event noted his pre-speech song choices included Bon Jovi’s “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” which was famously playing in the Soprano’s finale before the show abruptly cut to black.
The end of Christie’s quest to become president wasn’t so sudden. When he entered the race back in June 2015, he was already just a shadow of the candidate he expected to be, thanks to ugly credit downgrades, lackluster job growth and a little thing called “Bridgegate.” Unable to gain traction amidst a sea of candidates, Christie is polling in the low digits in South Carolina and will not qualify for the next Republican debate.
So the only real decision left for presidential candidate Christie now is where to set up the podium for his “I’m getting out of the race” speech.
I wouldn’t choose North Wildwood, where residents are still angry over Christie’s decision to abandon them and the rest of the state after a devastating blizzard left much of southern New Jersey flooded. Leaving to continue his quixotic bid to become president is one thing, calling the mayor “crazy” while sipping on coffee in New Hampshire is another.
Don’t expect him to speak in Margate, which Christie slammed as “selfish” during a misplaced rant in the middle a storm briefing, even as the town’s wooden bulkheads protected them from severe flooding.
He shouldn’t set up his podium in Stone Harbor or Sea Isle City, not after wrongly chastising residents there and claiming on national television there wasn’t significant property damage due to flooding.
He’s also probably better off avoiding Atlantic City, a poster child of his failed economic policies, which is still looking for specifics about his vague plan to takeover the struggling resort.
In fact, Christie should probably just avoid the Shore altogether, since many residents are still trying to rebuild their homes more than three years after Superstorm Sandy.
Don’t expect to see him speaking in Trenton, where public employees are waging a war over his inability to properly fund the pension system (despite taking credit for fixing it).
I don’t think he’ll speak in Millburn, where increasing property taxes brought the annual yearly bill up to over $22,000. In fact, while Christie was telling primary voters that taxes in New Jersey were rising at their slowest pace in 20 years, they actually went up 2.4 percent in 2015, the largest increase since 2011.
Forget about Fort Lee, which is still waiting to see if Christie had any direct involvement in the politically-motivated decision to close lanes of the George Washington Bridge.
At this point, there aren’t many friendly areas in New Jersey left for Christie to turn to for support. According to a recent Fairleigh Dickinson poll, 59 percent of Garden State residents disapprove of his job performance, 60 percent are worried about the state’s overall health and just 30 percent believe the state is doing well at all.
It appears the only save haven left for Christie to turn to is Jerry Jones’ luxury box, which would actually be an appropriate place for the governor to end his campaign.
As Matt Katz notes in his brilliant new book “American Governor,” it was the night Christie coziness with Jones during the Cowboys’ Sept. 8, 2013 defeat of the New York Giants became a national punchline that “New Jersey was forsaken for ambition.”
“I relish these experiences and exposures, especially for my kids,” the high-flying governor told the New York Times in an expose over his fondness for luxury benefits that come with running for president. “I try to squeeze all the juice out of the orange that I can.”
Hope he got his fill, because at this point, Christie’s cup is empty. And he has only his own hubris to blame.
Rob Tornoe is a cartoonist and WHYY contributor. Contact Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @RobTornoe