February 9th, 2014
11:25 AM ET
6 months ago

Star-Ledger editor on Christie endorsement: ‘We blew it’

Updated 1:56 p.m. ET, 2/9/2014

(CNN) – The Newark-based Star-Ledger, the largest newspaper in New Jersey, was already reluctant when it endorsed Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s re-election bid. But now its editorial page editor is having a strong case of buyer’s remorse.

“We blew this one,” Tom Moran of the paper’s editorial board wrote in a column Sunday.

The column comes exactly one month after Christie denied in a nearly two-hour press conference that he had any involvement in or knowledge of an alleged plot to cause traffic problems in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

A state legislative committee and the Justice Department are investigating whether top Christie appointees orchestrated days of traffic gridlock around the George Washington Bridge last year to punish the city’s Democratic mayor for political reasons.

Christie fired two of the top aides accused of playing a role in the incident, while another one resigned before the scandal blew up in national headlines.

Report: Fort Lee mayor says Christie appointees may have courted him

In the editorial, Moran cited the tumultuous ride that Christie’s administration has taken in the past month.

“We knew Christie was a bully. But we didn’t know his crew was crazy enough to put people’s lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor,” he wrote. He also pointed to separate allegations that Christie’s administration used Superstorm Sandy funds to pressure a local mayor to back a private development deal.

Christie denies that as well.

In defense of the Star-Ledger, Moran wrote that the editorial board’s endorsement last fall was a choice between two flawed candidates - a view the paper acknowledged at the time of the nod.

“Even before this scandal train got rolling, this endorsement was a close call and a split vote among the editorial board. We regard Christie as the most overrated politician in the country, at least until now, a man who is better at talking than governing,” Moran wrote.

NJ Star-Ledger endorses Christie with ‘deep reservations’

The paper backed him, however, because of his work to improve education programs, as well as pension and health reforms. On top of that, Christie’s Democratic opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono, was “not up to the job of being governor,” Moran wrote.

Moran wrote Sunday that the editorial board didn’t consider Christie more likable than Buono, either.

“Christie has boycotted the editorial board for years, an attempt to bully us into more loving coverage. So we’ve had a front-row view of what a creep he can be,” he wrote. “Buono is the more likable person by far.”

But “we swallowed our hesitations and endorsed Christie, complete with our long list of deep reservations,” he wrote.

Christie's office declined a request for comment about the new column.

The controversy has tarnished Christie’s potential run as a potential front-runner for the 2016 GOP presidential primary.

Even so, Moran argued, the other possible GOP front-runners are weaker, and he’d still back Christie.

“Now ask yourself this: If the Republican primary came to a choice between (Sen. Rand) Paul and Christie, which candidate would you endorse? At the risk of repeating a mistake, I’d pick Christie in that primary, even now. And if you think that makes some sense, then you understand how excruciating the endorsement process can be,” he wrote.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (311 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    Krispy is a bully, an influence peddler, and a pretty good liar. Yet, he is the best the GOBaggers have.

    February 9, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  2. Bill Smells

    LOL...Yes, NJ is that pathetic. I should know, I live there.

    However, under Christie, my property taxes went down by $700 between 2012 and 2013.

    February 9, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  3. Frank Garcia

    you blew nothing...you went with the best candidate and you had no other choice. would you have endorsed an incompetent Dem?

    February 9, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. Tampa Tim

    As bad as Krispy is, the Star Ledger would endorse him over Rand Paul in a republican primary, which pretty much says it all. Not a good day for baggers.

    February 9, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. Imjesayin

    That's what we call a "back-handed compliment"!

    February 9, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  6. Tampa Tim

    It's noon, what country does McCain want to bomb? Where does he want more boots on the ground?

    February 9, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. GKamburoff

    It is time to get rid of the cowardly Democrats who played ball with the Bad Guys.

    February 9, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  8. Maura McCabe

    It is so disappointing that The Gov staff was so shortsighted to think that a ridiculous and dangerous revenge ploy would not come out in the news. They may have destroyed his run at the presidency. Perhaps that was their intention after all.

    February 9, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  9. Mike

    A man that walks and talks like a bully...is well a bully!

    February 9, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  10. Walter

    Where is the investigation on this? I couldn't care less what either newspaper editors or the general public think about Christie; I just want the results of the investigation.

    February 9, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. Lenny Pincus

    Why did I know Christie was a sleazebag years ago and these guys are just figuring it out now?

    February 9, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. Nathan

    stuff happens..........

    February 9, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. wotudezerv

    why not just say "There is no candidate that deserves our endorsement" and have some principles. People will trust that.

    February 9, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  14. Peter J.

    If you don't like any of the candidates, don't endorse any of them.

    February 9, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  15. JohnRJohnson

    If I were a resident of New Jersey, which thank God I am not, my biggest issue with Christie would be his penchant for creating high-paying positions for his political cronies in his administration. Wildstein, whom Christie now claims is a complete stranger to him, was given a 6-figure position at the Port Authority which had never existed before and for which there NO JOB DESCRIPTION! He did the same for Baroni, who was paid even more than Wildstein. And neither of these men had any particular qualifications that would make them worth a penny of the salaries they were being paid by the tax payers of New Jersey. Christie spread out these attack dogs all over the state government of New Jersey, so that he could use them to do his dirty work. In this case, he wanted a big, bipartisan re-election which he could use as a springboard to the White House, so he sent his attack dogs out to get Democratic endorsements. This was a classic abuse of power and an impeachable offense.

    February 9, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Thomas

    “We knew Christie was a bully. But we didn’t know his crew was crazy enough to put people’s lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor,”

    And what about what he did to the Mayor of Hoboken ?

    And what makes me sick is Christy made a joke out of the Bridge closer , saying he himself dressed in overalls and put the orange cones out personally. Making fun of working class people is not going to be good for Christy .

    February 9, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  17. The Rocket

    Gee, I wonder why the communist news network stopped reporting on dawn zimmer and the Christie "scandals" when it was revealed that she swore under oath last summer that she didn't keep a journal, thereby removing that piece of so called "evidence" as proof of any kind. The left wing radicals can barely hide their hatred and wrath, and it shows in the low quality of their lies.
    Oh and by the way, Hoboken got the 4th most amount of money out of any municipality in New Jersey from the Hurricane Sandy relief fund, even though the development project dawn zimmer said would cause political payback if she didnt approve it was shot down. No story to see here. Just filthy liberals lying like usual, just because they smell blood in the water. Disgusting behavior.

    February 9, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. Furbeach

    At the risk of repeating myself, this whole thing in much like Nixon's Watergate. Did anyone ever think Christie was not going to be elected for a second term? This guy is on such an ego trip that he expected to get endorsements from Democratic mayors. Look it is OK to ask, but to take reprisals is just being a bully.

    February 9, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  19. johnk

    When if ever is the public going to stop endorsing political people in political jobs. Most are tarnished by power, corruption, greed and a lust for power. Why not find people with real values.

    February 9, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. noneofdabove

    My opinion: The Star Ledger is a stooge of whoever rules in Trenton – New Jersey's capital – and the only reason why Mr. Moran writes negatively of Christie now is because the tide appears to have turned against the governor. The SL systematically ignored independent political candidates for 2013 and methodically avoided making any mention of them in its print during the 2 years prior to the last gubernatorial election: It is a worthless rag.

    February 9, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. Donkey

    Christie, Christie, Christie. ::shakes head::
    You forgot the #1 Golden Rule.
    Don't get caught.

    February 9, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. Kevin

    "I had no knowledge of this until after the lanes were re-opened" – Chris Christie, January 2014

    "I had no prior knowledge of any plan" – Chris Christie, February 2014

    Funny how that little distinction makes so much difference.

    February 9, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. 11thCavGuy

    Tom Moran and The Star Ledger are a joke. They backed Corzine and McGreevy too. Did they apologize for those two losers too? I don't think so.

    February 9, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    Why did the paper HAVE to back ANY candidate? If their opinion was that all of them were flawed, why did they not simply state their position and endorse no one?

    February 9, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Never a fan of the Ledger so this just clarifies why - miserable unhappy group of people who want to be an important paper and aren't.

    February 9, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
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