1/13/15 Ahead of State of State, competing narratives on Christie’s tenure Andrew Seidman and Maddie Hanna | Philly.com and The Inquirer

opens in a new window1/13/15 Ahead of State of State, competing narratives on Christie’s tenure
Andrew Seidman and Maddie Hanna | Philly.com and The Inquirer

As Gov. Christie prepared to deliver his State of the State address today, his detractors offered their own message about how New Jersey has fared in the past five years.


About five dozen protesters gathered outside the Statehouse, holding signs declaring “The state of OUR state is a mess” and “Our Pain, Christie’s Gain.”


“Despite all of his rhetoric about being fiscally responsible, a straight shooter, Gov. Chris Christie has repeatedly taken actions that have failed New Jersey and its working families,” said Analilia Mejia, director of New Jersey Working Families.


“The state of our state: Can a brother get a job in New Jersey? Can I get hired?” said Gerard Burns, 47, of Paterson, who is unemployed. He noted that job growth in the Garden State has lagged the nation and the region.


“Our message to the governor is we will not sit down and shut up,” said Jim Keady, the recipient of Christie’s infamous admonition during a Sandy anniversary event in Belmar.


Also Tuesday morning, the Democratic National Committee released a video, titled “A Record We Can

Celebrate,” contrasting clips of Christie’s celebratory reelection night in November with news clips documenting New Jersey’s credit downgrades and lackluster job growth.


The DNC frequently criticizes Christie, a Republican considering running for president in 2016. 

The state has recovered less than half of the 258,000 jobs it lost during the recession from 2008 to 2011, according to Rutgers economist Nancy Mantell.


The national economy, meantime, had recovered all its jobs lost during the recession by May 2014.

Christie has “always put New Jersey first, or at least second,” the narrator says, referring to the governor’s busy out-of-state travel schedule.


And in a sign of souring public opinion of Christie, a Fairleigh Dickinson PublicMind poll released Tuesday showed more registered voters in the Garden State disapproved of the governor (47 percent) than approved of his performance (39 percent).


“This is the first time Governor Christie faces a public with numbers like these in regard to his leadership,” said Krista Jenkins, a political scientist who directs the poll.


The governor’s office painted a rosier picture of his tenure. In advance of the speech, Christie’s office released a video with clips of events the governor attended this year, with emphasis on the his frequent visits to Camden and partnerships with state Democrats.


The video opens with Christie shaking hands with minority children in a Camden school cafeteria, then segues into the governor’s remarks from his inaugural address last January: “The ways we divide each other, by race, by class, by ethnicity, by wealth and yes by political party, is neither permanent, nor necessary.”


Christie is later shown addressing the Camden High football team at a game, and alongside Camden’s mayor, Dana Redd.


The video also features Christie with former Gov. Jim McGreevey, with whom the Republican governor has partnered this year on efforts to combat drug addiction, and with state lawmakers at an event last January in Union City, where Christie, in front of an audience of primarily Hispanic students, touted a new law to allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at New Jersey colleges.