By John Celock
A new poll indicated that New Jersey voters want Gov. Chris Christie (R) to resign in order to pursue his presidential ambitions but do not want him to be forced out of office.
A Rutgers Eagleton Poll released Thursday shows that 54 percent of those surveyed want Christie to resign in order to focus on his presidential campaign, with 41 percent saying he should remain in office. Of those surveyed who were told about a Democratic legislative proposal to force a New Jersey governor to resign to seek the White House, 45 percent said that the legislation should be adopted to force Christie’s resignation while 52 percent said the governor should not be mandated to step down to run for president.
The poll showed that 59 percent of those surveyed believe that Christie’s actions as governor in recent months have been calculated to his presidential candidacy than rather what is best for New Jersey. Since entering the presidential contest in late June, Christie has increased his out of state, which has been on the rise since he first took office in 2010.
Fifty percent of those surveyed believed that Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R) is “at least somewhat prepared” to take over the governorship in the event Christie stepped down. Fifteen percent said Guadagno was not prepared while 35 percent said they were unsure. Guadagno, the state’s first lieutenant governor, serves as acting governor whenever Christie leaves the state. As acting governor, Guadagno has increased her profile, including signing bills in to law. This summer she has continued her annual tour of tourism sites around the state. Guadagno serves as New Jersey’s secretary of state, which places her in charge of the state’s tourism programs.
Under the New Jersey constitution, in the event Christie stepped down before early September of this year, Guadagno would become governor through a special election in November to complete the remainder of Christie’s second term, which ends in January 2018. If a resignation were to come after early September, Guadagno would hold the governorship until a special election in November 2016.
Guadagno, a former Monmouth County sheriff, is viewed as a likely 2017 gubernatorial candidate to succeed the term-limited Christie.
The bill to force Christie to resign was introduced earlier this year by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) and Sen. Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth). The bill, which is pending before a Senate committee, would require the state’s governor to step down after announcing a presidential candidacy. The bill would apply to all future New Jersey governors, not just Christie.
Both senators behind the bill have been longtime Christie foes, with Lesniak, a 2017 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, long critical of Christie. Weinberg, the 2009 Democratic lieutenant governor nominee who lost to the Christie/Guadagno ticket, co-chaired the special legislative committee investigating the Bridgegate allegations against Christie and his inner circle.