Christie Getting Hit Hard By Media, Dem Attacks

August 17, 2009 8:31 a.m.

Former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, the Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey, is starting to get a rough time in the press in the wake of newly-unsealed files that showed he discussed with Karl Rove a potential run for governor while he was still U.S. Attorney.

The New York Times has a new article showing that one of Christie’s top issues — no-bid contracts — is not such a cut-and-dry issue in his favor. After he’d run against no-bid contracts in a race for the Morris County Board in 1994, he then failed in his reform push and subsequently went with the flow, approving no-bid contracts that included his own contributors:

“I’m much better now than I was 15 years ago,” he said. “I’m more mature, and I’m convinced I’ll be more successful.”

Mr. Christie still expressed outrage at no-bid contracts when he became a federal prosecutor — in 2002, he called them “the biggest problem in corruption in New Jersey” — but in the interview he backed away somewhat from his criticism.

“I think there’s more things that are involved than I understood at the time,” he said. “I no longer think it’s the biggest thing, but it’s still an element, no question.”

And now Corzine has stepped up the rhetoric against Christie, telling a panel at Netroots Nation that his opponent, a supposed champion of clean government, is a “lawbreaker” due to his discussions with Rove:

Said Corzine: “It is hard to understand how a lawbreaker gets the reputation of being the king of law enforcement, and uses that as a platform. It’s the Hatch Act.”In addition, the Rove news has raised questions from Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, who was subpoenaed by Christie in the run-up to his 2006 election — a probe that went nowhere after that, but did enable Republican Senate candidate Tom Kean Jr. to warn voters that Menendez was under investigation. Democrats in New Jersey have long suspected that the subpoena was a political hit.

Menendez said on Friday:

“I think it’s incumbent on the U.S. Attorney’s Office to come to come to a conclusion, particularly when it involves a public official, and to let that conclusion be made public,” the senator said. “That’s been my position for over four years.

“Because the most important thing that every American – we just had a debate about a Supreme Court Justice, and I recite what it says above the mantle as you enter the Supreme Court – the most important thing is ‘Equal Justice under Law.’ That means whether you are Democrat or a Republican or an independent, you are not going to be prosecuted because of the nature of your affiliations. That’s been put into question by the information that’s come out.”

Christie is ahead in the polls right now, but it’s become very clear that the new two and a half months will be a brutal time for him, as the media continues to raise questions on his record and as the Democrats tear away at him for both those issues and his status as a former member of the Bush Administration in a heavily Democratic state. Christie had been getting a fairly easy time of it until now, but that has now very much changed.

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