It’s been a just over a month since Chris Christie left the New Jersey governor’s mansion, and already his successor is reversing some of the Republican’s most ideologically controversial policies.
On Wednesday, new Democratic Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill that reinstates nearly $8 million in grants to Planned Parenthood and other women’s health groups that Christie had previously stripped.
“We cannot immediately undo the damage of eight years of vetoed women’s health care funding under Governor Christie,” Gov. Murphy said. “But we can put the era of putting personal politics before the needs of countless thousands of New Jerseyans behind us.”
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We are one state,” he continued, “one family, and we will stand in support of everyone’s access to family planning, to prenatal care, and to life-saving cancer screenings.”
Champions of women’s health are cheering the move. “This moment is a testament to what’s possible when we work together,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said. “This is why we do the work we do — to enact policies to change people lives for the better.”
It’s difficult to remember now, but Chris Christie was once one of the most admired political figures in the country. As governor of New Jersey, he drew the inevitable comparisons to Ronald Reagan for his ability to lead a heavily Democratic state as a Republican, and he carefully cultivated an image that combined the polish and worldliness of a Wall Street lawyer with the happy-warrior combativeness of a conservative talk radio host.
So successful was he at crafting this reputation that many predicted he would emmulate Reagan’s ultimate ascension to the presidency. Were it not for the self inflicted “Bridgegate Scandal” – wherein officials from his transportation department closed roads to create traffic jams in a city whose mayor opposed Christie’s reelection bid – he may have succeeded.
Fast forward to 2018, and the man is a punch line on both the right and the left. The lasting image of his political career is not that of a triumphant man in the Oval Office, or in streets along the Jersey shore supporting residents and first responders after Super Storm Sandy.
Rather, Chris Christie will be remembered as a pathetic sunbather in flip flops and shorts wallowing in the sand on a state beach that he himself had closed to the public in a budget standoff with the New Jersey legislature.