It was every visitor to the Jersey Shore’s dream. A fourth of July weekend with a big, beautiful empty white sand beach and the cooling waters of the Atlantic ready to frolic in.
Unfortunately, the beach was empty because of a state government shutdown over a budget dispute between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the state’s legislature, and the only people on the beach were Gov. Christie and his family. When photos of the corpulent governor lounging in his beach chair on the abnormally vacant sand emerged online, the term “Beachgate” was coined, and Christie has been on a downward track ever since.
Those photos continue to haunt him, even in the waning days of his governorship as he prepares to hand over the keys to the Governor’s Mansion (and the state-owned beach house at Island Beach State Park where the incident took place) to the Democratic Party winner of the race to replace him, Governor-elect Phil Murphy.
Murphy beat his Republican opponent by over 8 percentage points, mostly due to the fact that, by the end of his term-limited run as governor, Christie was viewed favorably by only 16% of the state’s voters, a figure that even Donald Trump hasn’t yet sunk to. Voters were presumably tired of a governor who spent more time on the Trump campaign trail then doing his job running New Jersey, but Christie’s combative personality didn’t help win him any fans either.
So the article in The Washington Post today detailing Christie’s fit of pique at his successor after Murphy posed with a cardboard cutout of the sun-bathing Christie at comes as no surprise.
Murphy was attending a gala being held by the New Jersey Working Families Alliance when he encountered the cardboard cutout of his predecessor lounging in the sun. He told NJ.com that “It was right in front of me!”
“I was standing near the cutout,” he added, laughing. “I couldn’t resist.”
Christie was not as amused as Murphy. NorthJersey.com reported that the Governor commented on Friday night:
“I think someone’s got to remind him that the campaign is over,” he said. “It’s disappointing because we’ve been so open and so welcoming to him, and not playing politics at all.”
“I just think it sends a really terrible message to people about, if you say you want to bring people together and do all the rest of that, then what you should want to do is focus on the future and not be looking at the past,” Christie said.
That’s an interesting comment from the former head of President Trump’s transition team, even if he is one of the people who warned Trump against hiring Michael Flynn.
Christie and Murphy have been at odds during the transition period over Murphy’s concern about the “potentially huge budget gap” that he inherited from his Republican predecessor, so relations between the two have been particularly chilly of late.
Comments from other Republican politicians in New Jersey ranged from calling Murphy’s photo op a “remarkable lapse in judgement” to “pretty tacky,” but it was the reaction of one Twitter commentator that summed up the opinion of the majority of New Jersey voters:
It’s funny ! Lighten up! All the stufff Christie did! For sitting on the beach the day he closed it! He deserves it. He brought it on himself!!
— Jane M. Mag (@Jmm5555) December 17, 2017
It’s hard to argue with that opinion.