Former N.J. governors: Christie’s charismatic leadership is trump card

November 20, 2013

Bill Mooney | November 20, 2013 | PolitickerNJ

ATLANTIC CITY – They are about as diverse a group of leaders as could be assembled in one room: three Democrats, two Republicans; some elected, some appointed; one ruled for eight years while one served less than four days.

Some have become revered elder statesmen. One who resigned in disgrace has endured as a champion for social causes.

They served in vastly different eras from the mid-1970s into the early years of the 21st century, but former Govs. Brendan Byrne, James Florio, Donald DiFrancesco, John Bennett and James McGreevey share a bond: They once sat where Gov. Chris Christie sits now, and were in prime position Wednesday at the N.J. League of Municipalities’ conference here to assess Christie’s successful re-election romp and what might await him.

Byrne, the only member of this quintet to achieve a second term, expressed surprise that Christie did not have coattails to pull in some GOP legislative wins, but Bennett summarized why that happened: the map produced by redistricting left only two or three truly competitive districts whereas in his era he estimated as many as 10 districts year in and year out could be considered competitive.

During the session moderated by News 12’s Luke Margolis, the ex-governors were in general agreement on why Christie won and won easily: A combination of his post-Superstorm Sandy charismatic leadership, the weakness of his opponent, Sen. Barbara Buono, the inherent power of incumbency; and his style of leadership as seen in direct contrast to the chaos that was occurring in Washington, D.C.

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