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Richard C. Leone Headshot

Big Win?

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Governor Chris Christie is entitled to a round of congratulations for having solidly won reelection in the Garden state this week. But those celebrations ought to be tempered by at least some perspective on his margin. People are gushing about the fact that he got 60 percent of the vote. But let's assess that result in the context of New Jersey political history since the 1980s.

Not long ago, for example, another Republican governor, Tom Kean, got 70 percent of the vote in his reelection campaign in 1985. And Kean was opposed by a strong Democratic candidate, Peter Shapiro, at the time one of the most promising young reformer's in the country.

In fact, although he was a Democrat (and I guess that doesn't count), Governor Brendan Byrne got more than 70 percent of the vote in his first run for that office. He received nearly 60 percent of the vote in his reelection campaign -- and Byrne was carrying the burden of forcing New Jersey citizens to pay an income tax.

So, given the handicaps under which Christie's opponent, Barbara Buono, suffered -- lack of money, no support from powerful Democratic political organizations, deals cut between politicians and the Christie administration -- perhaps his victory is not as eye popping as the headlines suggest.

By all means, round up the usual kudos for Governor Christie. But in perspective, this just wasn't a win for the history books.