With the comfortable re-election victory for Gov. Chris Christie (R) in traditionally Democratic-leaning New Jersey on Tuesday — combined with the rejection of Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli II in Virginia — some have already highlighted the race as an example of the rift within the modern Republican Party and suggested this as an indication that moderate Republicans can win and conservative Republicans cannot. But while Cuccinelli was comparatively more vocal about his conservative views, that does not mean Christie is in fact a moderate.
In his first term as governor, Christie blocked progressive change in New Jersey at nearly every turn:
His veto of a minimum wage bill. Christie issued a “conditional veto” to the legislature’s minimum wage increase, objecting to the size of the increase ($8.50-per-hour), the speed of implementation, and the fact that it was indexed to inflation, incorrectly asserting that the measure would “jeopardize the economic recovery. The Democratic legislature instead was forced to put the question before the Garden State voters, in the form of a constitutional amendment to automatically index the state’s minimum wage law to inflation. Christie blasted this proposal as “stupid” and “truly ridiculous.” About 61 percent of voters voted for the amendment — a larger percentage than even Christie’s re-election percentage.
His opposition to a millionaire’s tax. Three years in a row, Christie has vetoed an income tax increase for the state’s wealthiest citizens, incorrectly asserting that it would lead to a mass exodus of rich people. Instead, he has insisted on massive spending cuts and was rebuked by the state’s Supreme Court for underfunding public schools.
His opposition to women’s reproductive rights. Christie opposes a woman’s right to choose. At a 2011 rally opposing the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision, he said eliminating abortion was “an issue whose time has come.” He also cut state family planning funding to Planned Parenthood.
He vetoed marriage equality and attempted to block in court. Christie used his veto power to block marriage equality in New Jersey, saying marriage equality is not about “gay rights.” Instead, he proposed marriage equality should be subject to a harmful and expensive public referendum. When a New Jersey judge ruled that the state’s constitution requires equal marriage, Christie’s administration appealed unsuccessfully to the Supreme Court to stay the ruling, warning of “far-reaching implications.”
Blocking climate change action. Though Christie claims to believe climate change is real, he pulled New Jersey out of a regional compact aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. He also refused to take a position on whether climate change contributed to Super Storm Sandy, though researchers see such a link.
Opposing gun violence reduction efforts. Christie opposed New Jersey’s one-gun-a-month limit and has been strongly critical of President Obama’s approach, calling instead for “violence control.” After Sandy Hook, he blocked a trio of gun proposals — including a weapons ban he himself had proposed.
Impeded implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Christie, while supporting Medicaid expansion, vetoed a bill to allow New Jersey to setup a health insurance exchange under Obamacare, forcing Garden State residents to have to deal with an overcrowded federal exchange.
Put private and parochial schools ahead of public education. Christie has pushed for private school vouchers, which would take public education money and siphon it off to private and parochial schools. At the same time, he attacked public school teachers — individually and collectively.
But Christie himself told CNN Tuesday “I’m a conservative. I’ve governed as a conservative in this state,” adding that he has not “tried to hide it, or mask it as something different.”