New Jersey Democrats want Gov. Chris Christie to quit while he’s behind.
Legislators, frustrated by the Republican spending so much time traveling outside the Garden State amid his 2016 presidential bid, plan on introducing bill later this month to force the governor to resign.
“You can’t run the state of New Jersey by cell phone, or text or Skype,” state Sen. Loretta Weinberg told msnbc on Tuesday morning, pointing to several looming issues in the state, including the depleting transportation trust fund and the beleaguered pension system. “He can’t do it while he’s trying to appeal to a very, very conservative electorate in Iowa or New Hampshire or anyplace else.”
Weinberg, the Senate majority leader, is expected to co-sponsor the bill with fellow Democrat, state Sen. Raymond Lesniak. The legislation would likely be introduced on July 20—and would mandate that any governor seeking national office offer their resignation.
If the measure did pass, the deputy governor – in this case Kim Guadagno – would take over Christie’s position in the interim, but a special gubernatorial election would be held in the following November, explained Weinberg.
The news of the pending legislation was first reported by NJ.com, which noted Christie has been traveling out-of-state for nearly half of this year. When asked to comment about the Democratic lawmakers’ plan, Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for the governor, told msnbc “It’s impossible to respond to every bit of silly nonsense that comes from this legislature.”
His office also referenced Christie’s remarks at a budget-signing press conference last month, when he addressed the time he spends out of state and insisted that he’s never really disconnected.
“If you do it the way I do it, you know you just can’t be. And from a technology perspective as I’ve mentioned before you know, maybe years ago before cell phones and smart phones and Skype and all this other stuff maybe you could really literally be disconnected but you can’t now,” Christie said at the time. “And when I go on the road, you all go with me so it’s not like New Jersey ever leaves me you know — I’m in Iowa, or I’m in New Hampshire, or I’m in South Carolina, and you guys are asking me about something that’s happened here.
The governor continued, “It’s not like I can ever leave and I don’t want to, OK. This is my job. I love my job and I love doing it every day. Some days are more frustrating than others and some days are more gratifying than others.”
While Democrats control both the state’s Senate and Assembly, whether or not there are enough votes to pass such a measure remains to be seen. It would take two-thirds of lawmakers to override the governor’s presumed veto. Weinberg noted the two legislative chambers have not been able to come up with a two-thirds vote on separate, substantive issues in the past.
Still, Weinberg said even if the legislation is not green-lit, “the discussion would be worthwhile — calling attention to what the average Republican primary voter in New Hampshire is interested in and that it’s not what the average person in New Jersey is interested in.”
Christie’s approval ratings in the state have been on the decline, with a recent Monmouth University survey showing that just 36% of New Jersey voters believe the governor is doing a good job. It’s a very different political landscape in comparison to 2013, when Christie easily won re-election with support from Latinos and Democrats alike.
Related: Is Christie past ‘Bridgegate?’
During an interview on msnbc’s “Morning Joe” on Monday, Christie attributed the numbers to what he called excessive and negative coverage of “Bridgegate,” a scheme in which several of Christie’s former aides and allies allegedly created traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge, seemingly for political retribution. (The governor has denied any prior knowledge of the plot). He also said the lackluster numbers were due to New Jersey residents simply being upset he’s running for national office.
“People in your state say ‘oh you’re leaving us. You don’t care about us as much and your numbers go down.” However, Christie confidently added the numbers will “cycle back up. After I’m the nominee, it will cycle back up.”