Governor Chris Christie voted for Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno today, prompting one insider to wonder about Christie’s ownership of the campaign should Guadagno win.
Christie has stepped on Guadagno’s spotlight at various critical times, including on the occasion of last year’s League of Municipalities Conference in Atlantic City, deflating her effort to shine outside of his presence. He was bothered by her routine opposition to him and his policies in public, such as when she bucked him on the gas tax and on statehouse renovation.
But a second source told InsiderNJ that after Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli dropped his first negative mail piece on Guadagno with the argument that she was part of Christie’s failed record, the governor’s allies were incensed. Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-21) said he didn’t think attacking the governor was a good strategy for the Republican gubernatorial candidates.
Ciattarelli’s assault on what he cites as the failed record of the Christie administration and Guadagno’s place in it, substantially upped the ante on Guadagno’s defiance of Christie on several issues. While obviously unable to disentangle herself from the Christie era, the LG recalcitrantly removed herself from the Republican governor’s influence on the most significant votes of the last several months, while Ciattatrelli scrapped the entire Christie experience for a “new message, new messenger” direction.
The daylight between those strategies may have been enough for Christie – struggling at 20% approval rating – in legacy protection mode, to pull the cord for his own LG. Now the question is, the first source said, will he allow Guadagno to shine in victory, or insist on taking credit for the win (if she wins) as a statement of his legacy intact with GOP Primary voters – and hit the trail with an irresistible sense of renewed star chops for a power walking victory lap?