As New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) continues to revel in high approval ratings and bipartisan praise following his handling of Hurricane Sandy, national Democrats are readying their plans to cast him as a far-right conservative ahead of the November gubernatorial election.
On Monday, EMILY’s List (a group focused on promoting pro-choice Democratic women to office) hinted at a Democratic electoral strategy in New Jersey centered on reminding voters about Christie’s record before Sandy, when national Republicans loved him and Democrats said he was far to the right of the electorate in the blue state he leads.
In the parlance of EMILY’s List that means the group has put Christie “On Notice.” How do candidates end up On Notice? “First, they’ve amassed appallingly anti-woman, anti-family records,” reads a statement from EMILY’s List set to be released Monday. “And second, there is major Democratic female talent waiting in the wings.”
In New Jersey that “major Democratic female talent” is former New Jersey state Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buono, who announced her campaign for governor earlier this month but whom most observers think is waging an uphill fight against the popular Christie.
EMILY’s List contends that Christie’s record makes him much more vulnerable than the conventional wisdom may suggest. The group points to Christie vetoes of a minimum wage increase and of a Democratic bill focused on pay equity as potential lines of attack. EMILY’s List also highlights Christie’s opposition to abortion rights, saying he has “decisively blocked access to reproductive healthcare for women in New Jersey.”
Christie also vetoed legislation legalizing same-sex marriage, which Democratic lawmakers in the state are hoping to override in advance of the November election.
EMILY’s List plans to cast the gubernatorial race as chance to hold the line against a popular Republican ahead of 2016.
“He has national ambitions and a relentlessly anti-woman, anti-family record, a dangerous combination that means we have to expose his extremism now, and prevent him from trying to take his regressive agenda nationwide,” reads the group’s release. “His positions on everything from reproductive healthcare and equal pay to workers rights prove that he just doesn’t have the same priorities as the electorate.”
The New Jersey governor’s race is still largely seen as Christie’s to lose. But EMILY’s List says it’s possible to change the Christie narrative.
“Christie is a GOP extremist plain and simple, and New Jersey families need to know he’s not on their side,” said group president Stephanie Schriock. “With the help of the EMILY’s List community — now two million members strong — voters are going to get to know the real Chris Christie: wrong on the issues, and wrong for New Jersey.”
Christie’s political team dismissed the EMILY’s List attacks in a statement to TPM.