So first Chris Christie goes out of his way to praise the president’s response to Hurricane Sandy, helping Obama present a perfect tableau of presidential leadership a week before the election, and single-handedly depriving Mitt Romney of the presidency that surely would otherwise have been his. (OK, maybe that last part goes too far, but it’s pretty much what a good number of conservative pundits believe).
Then, Christie doubles down on the move last week, sharing a high-five (with hand-clasp finish!) with the president as he showed him around the revamped Jersey Shore and generally rekindled the bro-mance.
Then, as if all that weren’t enough, Christie betrays Republicans once again this week by announcing a special election in October to fill the Senate seat vacated by the death of Frank Lautenberg. GOP partisans had urged him to delay the special election until next fall, allowing an interim replacement to better establish himself and thereby giving the party a far better chance of holding onto the seat. As it stands, it looks likely that Democrats will retain it.
“I think this ends his 2016 chances,” one GOP official told National Journal. “It’s year after year with this guy.”
So given all this, you’d think that Christie, if he still has any hope whatsoever of winning his party’s 2016 presidential nomination—and nothing suggests he’s ruled it out—would at least name as the interim senator a conventional Republican who’s assured of voting for the party’s priorities.
Meet Jeffrey Chiesa, the state attorney general who Christie named to the Senate post Thursday. As Jessica Taylor at MSNBC notes, under Chiesa’s leadership, the state’s Department of Law and Public Safety conducted a gun buyback program that he said just last month was “helping to make New Jersey safer.” Oh, and Chiesa also said when being sworn in as AG that he’d defend the state’s civil union law as constitutional.
So: On stopping gun control and discriminating against gays, two key Republican priorities lately, Chiesa doesn’t exactly sound like a guy who toes the party line. At this point, it’s like Christie’s not even trying anymore.