Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NJ enviro group backs Christie for governor

No that's not a typo in the headline.

The New Jersey Environmental Federation (NJEF), one of the largest enviro-activist organizations in the state has endorsed not only a (gulp) Republican for governor but (double-gulp) one who served in the federal government under Bush/Cheney.

Yes, we're talking about Chris Christie.

Surprised? Amazed? And maybe a bit baffled?
We are, too.

It was one thing for the Sierra Club to endorse former NJDEP Commissioner Chris Daggett's independent campaign for governor. But it's another for the NJEF, which had originally announced it would make no endorsement in the race, to come out for Christie.

What's going on? We don't know. But here's a theory.

The state's other big enviro group, the Sierra Club, didn't just stop with their endorsement of Daggett. Its leader went on, in press release after press release, to rip incumbent Democratic Governor Jon Corzine's environmental record.

The pounding culminated in the astonishing claim that Corzine is
the worst environmental governor in history.

Whoa! Did they forget all about Christie (Honey, I shrunk the DEP) Whitman and Jim "fast track development" McGreevey?

Is this the same Jon Corzine who the rest of us have seen signing one environmental bill after another? The governor who got out ahead of virtually all other states in setting aggressive goals for greenhouse gas reductions. The guy who has backed cap-and-trade, solar-energy incentives and offshore wind power development?

And, even if the Sierra Club wasn't satisfied with Corzine's record, it's one thing to back another candidate to display your convictions but totally another to flay a sitting governor who just might win re-election. That, we submit, is just plain dumb.

So, our theory continues, rather than risk seeing the governor's office door slammed on the environmental community for the next four years, it might be a good idea for the other big green group to back the other major candidate...even if he is a Republican friend of Karl Rove.

There's one tiny weakness to the strategy. Corzine could win.

Then what happens?

The enviros may be counting on the fact that Jon can't seem to repress a single "progressive" reflex. They may have good reason to suspect that, after a decent interval for sulking, he'll succumb to let's kiss and make up.

But what if the governor has been in New Jersey long enough now to adopt a more native political reaction? You know, the one called: Piss me off and see who wins.

Time will tell. In the meanwhile, we thought you might enjoy the Star-Ledger video below.

Even after today's NJEF announcement, is still a pretty good summary of the New Jersey environmental community's current political quandry.

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