Christie using offense to play defense

Gov. Christie has a laugh with Atlantic County Executive Dennis Levinson (right) and U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (left) at the Irish Pub while drinking a draft Yuengling last week in Atlantic City. (ED HILLE/Staff Photographer)

Gov. Christie must have enjoyed seeing Beyonce at The Revel in Atlantic City over Memorial Day weekend after a particularly rough few days in Trenton, where he found himself constantly playing defense. 

I was outta town, so let me catch you up on what we missed last week. Mostly, we missed Christie using a strong offense to play defense.

First came news that revenue numbers for the state weren't looking as good as the governor promised, theoretically endangering his proposed 10 percent income tax cut. The Legislature's top finance officer said Christie's proposed budget is short by $1.3 billion, and the rating agency Moody's cast doubt about Christie's so-called "Jersey Comeback," saying New Jersey's economic was recovering more slowly than the country's. 

That led Christie to attack the Legislature's finance officer, David Rosen, as "the Dr. Kevorkian of the numbers." Christie's treasurer, meanwhile, said the administration would make up the shortfall by using money from the Clean Energy Fund (meant for environmental projects) and cash from a fund for transportation projects. That would mean increasing borrowing on transportation -- which Christie had previously said he wouldn't do.

Then came word, leaked to the Star-Ledger, that Democrats who control the Legislature's judiciary committee would soon reject Christie's nominee to the Supreme Court. The Democrats already handed Christie an unprecedented defeat two months ago when they turned away nominee Phillip Kwon -- the first time a Legislature had ever rejected a gubernatorial Supreme Court nominee. Now, Democrats said they would reject Bruce Harris -- a gay African-American Republican mayor up in Morris County. Harris's hearing is on Thursday. 

Much in the same way Christie attacked Rosen, Christie responded in part by pouncing on the head of the judiciary committee, Sen. Nicholas Scutari, questioning his educational pedigree: "It's interesting that somebody like Nick Scutari, with his educational background, is saying that a guy who graduated magna cum laude from Amherst and Yale Law School is unqualified for the bench."

Scutari is a product of two New Jersey schools of higher education -- he graduated from Kean University and got his master's degree from Rutgers. He has a law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan.

And then, just days before Christie headed to Atlantic City to mark what he sees as the resort town's rebirth, a mentally-ill woman stabbed to death two tourists on the boardwalk. Christie has invested political and economic capital into the city, hoping that the publicly-backed Revel casino project marks a comeback for the town (and the state). So the crime wasn't welcome news. Asked about a headline about the incident in the Philadelphia Daily News -- "Tourist Deathtrap" -- Christie said: "I don't ever care much what Philadelphia thinks of New Jersey."

One thing he does care about: The New York Rangers. The gov's favorite hockey team got booted from the playoffs last week by none other than the New Jersey Devils. Christie has since tweeted his support for his home-state team. In their upcoming series against the LA Kings, we'll see if the Devils know what Christie knows: A good defense is a good offense.