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Caren Z. Turner Headshot

Bully and the Bully Pulpit

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Since winning the New Jersey statehouse, Gov. Chris Christie has become the darling of conservatives nationwide. His most ardent supporters have such a rosy view of his political potency that they have launched a 'draft Christie for President' movement. Recently, an influential group of Iowa Republicans traveled to Princeton to beseech Christie to go after the GOP presidential nomination. To date, the Governor, who has said he has no interest in running for the presidency, has resisted the growing chorus of pleas to enter the contest.

Still the cries of "Run, Chris, Run" seem to be only growing louder. This Jersey girl just doesn't get it.

Perhaps from a distance the Garden State Governor is highly appealing, but trust me, for many of us in New Jersey the bloom is off the Christie rose -- a rose that has too many thorns. Specifically, I'm speaking of the prickly matter of his combative, uber-aggressive nature. To put it simply, the man's a bully, a misogynistic bully at that.

Don't take my word for it. Several recent surveys, including the Quinnipiac University and Eagleton Institute of Politics polls, have concluded that the one word most associated with Gov. Christie is "bully." As a matter of fact the Quinnipiac poll, which surveyed 1,532 registered New Jersey voters, noted that "bully" and "arrogant" were the top two words offered when voters were asked, (with no suggestions given), to describe Christie in one word, with the word "bully" out distancing "arrogant" by more than three times.

Christie is known for his name-calling rants and for aggressively going after anyone who dares to question or disagree with his dictates. Last December during a town hall meeting, the Governor gave a brutal tongue lashing to a Madison man who questioned tax breaks for the rich while blue collar workers were being hit by transit fare hikes. Fed-up with the Governor's track record of rude, uncalled for behavior, the Star Ledger took Christie to task in a stinging editorial that said in part:

Christie has turned state politics into one never-ending yo' mama joke. It doesn't matter who you are -- school superintendent, teacher, student, U.S. Senator, State Assembly leader, former education commissioner, or just a regular guy trying to have a conversation: If you disagree with him, Christie will try to humiliate you publicly.


In the most recent episode of "New Jersey Governor Behaving Badly," -- stemming from what folks are calling "coptergate" -- Christie has leveled his Gatling gun of verbal attacks at critics who have questioned his use of a state police helicopter to attend his son's baseball game. What I find particularly galling is that the Governor's latest round of venomous name-calling has a decidedly misogynistic bent, so much so that State Senator Loretta Weinberg called him out in a letter.

"I understand that you seem to have trouble dealing with women in the legislature," wrote Weinberg.

You called a very articulate Speaker Sheila Oliver a 'liar.' You called Assemblywoman (and my good friend) Bonnie Watson Coleman a 'murderer.' You urged folks to 'take a bat out' on me, and then you called my colleague, Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle, a jerk.' I hope you recognize that you have a problematic pattern here. As the Chief Executive of our wonderfully diverse state, I think it's time for you to really examine your own behavior.

Yes, it's true. The Governor urged a group of press people to "take the bat" to 76-year-old Sen. Loretta Weinberg. Such threatening and abusive behavior is unacceptable.

Before taking office as governor almost two years ago, Christie acknowledged his name-calling, bullying past but promised voters that he had matured. Hence, in January, Christie signed a bill reputed to be the toughest anti-bullying law in the nation. It requires public school teachers to be trained on how to spot bullying. School employees are required to report all incidents they learn of, whether they took place in or outside of school.

Well, be careful what you wish for, Governor. We have spotted your bullying and we are also reporting it. There is no room in Washington for this thug-like behavior.

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