“Old Retread” Beats Christie at Governing Game

The whole world now knows that, at last month’s GOP Convention (aka the “California Can’t Get No Respect Tour”), New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, verbally smacked down the Golden State’s Governor, Jerry Brown.

Speaking at a California delegation breakfast (no snarky food remarks, please) Christie told his audience--including HP chief Meg Whitman, who’d spent a bundle running unsuccessfully against Brown for Governor in 2010—they’d “made the bad choice by going with an old retread.”

Well, Governor Christie, unemployment in New Jersey is on the rise and above the national average and your state is facing its own budget deficit (although nowhere near as large as California’s).

Here in California, the economy is improving, albeit slowly, and the high unemployment rate has been trending downward. And just as the legislative session was ending last week, that “old retread” delivered two major pieces of legislation.

In the space of three days, Brown’s intensive personal lobbying of business groups, labor union leaders and lawmakers of both parties helped propel the first comprehensive overhaul of California’s worker’s compensation program since 2004 back from the near-dead to legislative passage by large, bi-partisan majorities in both the Assembly and the Senate.

Brown told a reporter, “It was a tall hill…and I was able to bring it around.”

Brown was also instrumental in the Legislature’s last-minute scramble to pass a package of public pension reforms, again by lopsided majorities.

The Associated Press reported that the Governor “negotiated the reforms with the Legislature’s Democratic leadership.”

Not only did that allow Brown to check off a campaign promise to rework the state’s ballooning pension obligations, but it may help him to argue for his tax initiative, Proposition 30 on the November ballot.

Democrats, including Brown, are betting that California voters will be more amenable to raising taxes, if they see some evidence that Sacramento is trimming government spending.

Not only did Gov. Brown flex his political muscle, he hyped his physical strength, challenging Gov. Christie “to a three-mile race, a pushup contest and a chin-up contest.”

From here on out, I’d be careful with your California tongue lashings, if I were you, Gov. Christie.

At the height of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s tenure as California’s chief executive, a popular political button read: “My Governor can kick the crap out of Your Governor.”

Brown has updated that slogan.

Addressing Christie in a recent speech to a friendly union audience, California’s veteran Governor boasted, “This old retread can beat you any day of the week."

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe is a Senior Fellow at the USC Price School of Public Policy and the political analyst for NBC4.

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