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Chris Christie Wears New Jersey Building Trades Pin on Time Magazine Cover, Today Show

Now that the November election is behind us we can finally collectively focus on the most pressing legislative issue of the coming four years…


And anybody who is anybody (on Twitter) knows the “2016″ conversation can’t be had without mentioning New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Christie’s refusal to be lumped in with ĂĽber-conservatives when it comes to issues like Sandy relief, women and guns has earned him broad appeal. In fact, his current approval rating stands at a remarkable 78 percent. This is especially notable considering his state’s electoral college votes went to President Obama. At this point his re-election into the Governor’s Mansion is somewhat of a forgone conclusion.

Now for the twist. Despite his firm Republican roots, union members should be thrilled about Christie’s prospects because in his recent, incredibly high-profile press ops he has been proudly wearing the lapel pin of the New Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council, the organization that represent unionized construction workers in the state. These press ops include being on the cover of the new Time magazine — the feature story hits newsstands today — and appearing on The Today Show for a one-on-one with Matt Lauer.

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Christie will no doubt have his detractors on the Left and within labor and their cases will in certain instances have great merit. But what makes Christie different from every other GOP Governor is that he appears to really be trying to change the labor-GOP paradigm. Christie has already earned the gubernatorial endorsement of the Laborers International Union of America (LiUNA) and has worked with teachers unions to agree on merit pay for Newark. In fact, despite what some might consider a rocky history vis-a-vis New Jersey teachers, Christie recently appeared alongside American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten for some truly positive vibing on Morning Joe.

Can you picture John Kasich wearing a union pin on national television? Or Scott Walker having a civil conversation with Randi Weingarten? Highly doubtful. The only other GOP Governor who comes to mind in terms of a tangibly progressive outlook may be New Mexico’s Susan Martinez who has pushed for a lobbying ban that is positively unGOP.

This is a two-party country and so long as it is the folks on the “D” side of the fence need to recognize an opening when someone on the other side is trying to make one for them. Chris Christie, perhaps humbled by Hurricane Sandy and perhaps just now realizing his potential in terms of political acumen, is showing union members, in construction especially, that he’s willing to play ball. In the age of abject donor/lobbyist/corporate influence that’s more than enough for year one of the four year slog to find out who will follow President Obama into the White House.


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