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Where in the World is Chris Christie?

When voters in the Garden State overwhelmingly elected Chris Christie to a second term last November, they did so presumably because they thought that he was the best person to lead New Jersey into the future. They ostensibly believed that Governor Christie would demonstrate the same leadership qualities and focus on New Jersey that they felt he exhibited during his first term. Little did they know that Christie’s second term would be vastly different.

Let’s put Bridgegate, which has absolutely rocked the Christie administration since his reelection, on the back burner for the moment. Instead, let’s focus on the Governor’s attendance record.

As Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Christie traverses the country on a regular basis in order to meet with key GOP personnel and raise funds for Republican candidates. And with his not so subtle presidential plans, Chris Christie’s travel activities have been occurring at a frenetic pace.

Over the past three months, Governor Christie has spent part or all of 25 days out of state, attending an array of political events aimed at bolstering his national image and positioning himself as a serious contender for the Republican nomination for president. Christie’s travels have taken him to Republican Governors Association events in Maine, Florida, Utah, Nevada, Michigan, and Georgia. He also attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, the White House Correspondents’ Association Annual Dinner in Washington, DC, and the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Spring Conference in Las Vegas.

An analysis by The New York Times in August 2013 found that Christie had been out of New Jersey at least 91 days over the past year, which equated to approximately 24% of the time. In response, John Currie, the Chairman of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, offered a scathing critique of Christie’s absenteeism. “New Jersey voters deserve to know why their Governor has spent nearly 1 in 4 days of the last year outside New Jersey,” Currie said.

In March 2013, Barbara Buono, who was Christie’s opponent in the 2013 gubernatorial election, tried to make his seemingly incessant travel a campaign issue, noting that the Governor spent an inordinate amount of time out of state over the past two years.

In May 2012, The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported Christie had spent 54 days in the past eight months out of state.

Many of us remember Christie’s infamous Orlando vacation in December 2010, when he was mingling with Mickey Mouse at Disneyworld while New Jerseyans endured a brutal blizzard that crippled the Garden State.

To be fair, Chris Christie is not the first governor to spend a lot of time outside of his home state.

Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican nominee for president, spent part or all of 417 days out of state during his four-year tenure as Governor of Massachusetts. In October 2006, then Governor Romney spent part or all of an astounding 25 days out of state.

In 2011, Texas Governor Rick Perry spent approximately 80 days away from his home state. To add insult to injury, from the time Perry announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination, Texas taxpayers spent an astounding $3.6 million to provide security for Perry as he traveled around the country for his presidential run.

In a glaring contrast to Chris Christie’s globetrotting style, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, rarely leaves his home state. Cuomo, who some have speculated may harbor presidential ambitions, has shunned the national spotlight, eschewed national media appearances, and foregone out of state vacations in favor of respites with his family in the Empire State. Andrew Cuomo’s actions send a clear message that he has a job to do in New York, and the national stage, which may indeed have a spot reserved for the popular governor, will just have to wait until he completes the task at hand.

A reporter for the New Jersey Watchdog is currently suing the Governor in an attempt to obtain records from Christie’s office that would indicate who has paid for his outings and how much they cost.

The fact is that Chris Christie’s national ambitions should not come as a surprise. They were already apparent several years ago, which led the late Senator Frank Lautenberg to note in September 2012, that, “Governor Christie’s first priority is not New Jersey, his first priority is his national ambitions.”

The frequency of Christie’s trips outside of New Jersey is unquestionably a cause for concern. As he grapples with the recent downgrading of New Jersey’s debt and an additional $807 million budget shortfall, which brings the state’s total budget deficit to over $1 billion, it would behoove the Governor to put his out of state trips on hold and stick around for a while until he can properly address New Jersey’s budget woes and ensure that its fiscal situation is in order.

With his constant out of state travel, many New Jersey residents feel that they are the forgotten child and get the sense that their Governor leaves the issues that are important to New Jersey in the rearview mirror each and every time he leaves his home state.

When New Jersey voters reelected Chris Christie, they weren’t looking for a long distance relationship or an absentee governor. They were seeking someone to lead, not leave.

Where in the world is Chris Christie? Odds are, these days, it’s not in New Jersey.

Governor Christie, you need to come back home. I know the bright lights of the national stage are a big draw, but the fact is that you have a job to do in New Jersey.

N. Aaron Troodler is an attorney and principal of Paul Revere Public Relations, a public relations and political consulting firm. Visit him on the Web at TroodlersTake.blogspot.com, www.PaulReverePR.com, or www.JewishWorldPR.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @troodler

By N. Aaron Troodler, Esq.

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