Republican Chris Christie is the leading candidate for governor in the Democratic stronghold of New Jersey. Two recent polls show him leading incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine by 9 points. Another has him up by 15. He's not just the leading Republican candidate, he's the leading candidate. Period.
It appears the good poll numbers have gone to his head, because now he's modeling himself after anti-stimulus Republican Governors Sanford, Jindal and Barbour. In a surprising radio interview on Friday, Christie said that if he were New Jersey's governor today, he very well might send back aid from President Obama's stimulus package.
Speaking with WNYC's Brian Lehrer, Christie said that he "would be reluctant to accept those portions of the money" if there were "strings attached from Washington D.C." He complained that oversight from the Obama administration on how certain stimulus funds are spent might "tie my hands." Pressed on what portions of the bill would do this, Christie admitted he didn't know. He hadn't read it (or even about it, apparently).
See, he had heard "things like that" from other Republican governors -- specifically Louisiana's Bobby Jindal and Mississippi's Haley Barbour. Christie wasn't quite sure what those "things" were, but it seems Barbour and Jindal's word is good enough for him.
Christie is aching to join the club. The night before the President's address to a joint session of Congress, he went down to Washington D.C. to stand with South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. At the time, Sanford was positioning himself to become the first Republican governor to reject Obama stimulus funds, something he went through with last week. And today, Christie's campaign is bandying about a Sean Hannity clip that touts his success in the polls as part of "an Obama bounce" for Republicans.
Under Governor Corzine, New Jersey became the first state to develop an economic recovery plan to hit the ground running when President Obama came into office. Unfortunately, the polls say our next governor will be someone who'll take his election as a mandate to fight President Obama's plans every step of the way.
Audio of Chris Christie's statements on President Obama's stimulus package, as well as more commentary, can be found at Blue Jersey.