CONCORD– When New Jersey Gov. and potential 2016 presidential hopeful Chris Christie arrives in the Granite State on Thursday to raise money for the state GOP and campaign with a candidate for governor, he will find a familiar critic on the airwaves and online here.
The Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative 501c-4 advocacy group, will begin television, radio and digital advertising on Wednesday calling Christie too liberal on judicial appointments and accusing him of breaking a promise to appoint judges who will “not legislate from the bench.”
Christie, the chairman of the Republican Governor Association, will be the featured speaker at a fund-raiser for the state Republican Party Thursday night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, the home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats minor league baseball team.
Earlier in the day he will campaign with GOP candidate for governor Walt Havenstein at BAE Systems in Nashua – the firm Havenstein once headed as chief executive officer. The two will tour the manufacturing area of the electronics systems plant and then hold a forum with employees, according to the Havenstein campaign.
There has been speculation in New Jersey that Christie’s potential presidential ambitions are playing a role in his decision to campaign for Havenstein. While the RGA usually focuses on close races, Havenstein trails Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan substantially in recent polls. He does, however, have a surprisingly difficult primary opponent on his hands in liberty movement conservative and small businessman Andrew Hemingway.
The ads going up today will not be the first by the Judicial Crisis Network criticizing Christie. The group had a digital-only ad program online earlier this month in Iowa, which hosts the nation’s first presidential caucuses, when Christie visited.
Now, with Christie appearing to be finally putting the traffic jam scandal known as “Bridgegate” scandal behind him, he is coming to first-in-the-nation primary state New Hampshire for the second time in six weeks. He endorsed and campaigned with Havenstein on June 20.
And in New Hampshire, a much smaller state than Iowa, the JCN is adding television and radio, although it is spending $60,000 in New Hampshire for three days of television, radio and digital, as compared to $75,000 in Iowa.
The television ad says, ”New Jersey’s Supreme Court has been one of the most activist courts in the nation. Because of their lawless rulings, New Jerseys’ property taxes are the highest in the Country.
“Chris Christie promised to change New Jersey’s liberal Supreme court. Over and over, he broke his promise…the court remains liberal.”
Perhaps coincidentally – or perhaps not – among the visuals in the television ad is a brief snippet of the George Washington Bridge, where the traffic jam scandal occurred.
The radio ad embellishes on the criticism, charging that the New Jersey Supreme Court has “wreaked havoc on the state’s finances, driven away business and jeopardized jobs. New Jersey’s property taxes are the highest in the country.”
While the television focuses on the New Jersey state court, the radio ad looks ahead to 2016 and contains the line: “Important issues like Obamacare are at stake in our courts. The next President may get to appoint as many as three Supreme Court nominees.”
The ads direct viewers and listeners to the web site www.ChristieBadOnJudges.com, which asks supporters to sign a petition if they “want Christie to fight for judges who respect the rule of law.”
A spokesman for Christie did not respond to the New Hampshire Journal’s request for a response to the criticism and the overall ad program.
JCN says that Christie has appointed or reappointed “liberal judges, despite his repeated promises to change the courts. On five separate occasions, Governor Christie had the opportunity to build a new majority on the courts – a majority focused on the rule of law, and not judicial activism. Each time, he failed to do so.
“One Christie appointee – the Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, Stuart Rabner – is so liberal that he was often mentioned as a potential Obama nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court,” JCN said. “Rabner was first appointed to the court by the disgraced former Democrat governor, John Corzine.”
Judicial Crisis Network chief counsel and policy director Carrie Severino said the organization is is largely focused on the state courts, but also often comments on federal judicial appointments.
Severino said Christie campaigned for governor promising to change the tenor of what she called the “liberal courts” in New Jersey, but has failed to deliver on the promise. Although Christie’s advisers have said the governor has had to deal with a Democratic legislature, Christie has acquiesced and has nominated liberal judges, she charged.
She said his key nominees have had “no record of solid judicial philosophy.”
She pointed to Christie’s nominations of Rabner, Bruce Harris and Phillip Kwon to the New Jersey Supreme Court as examples of liberal judges.
She also noted that he supported President Barack Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mike DuHaime, Christie’s political adviser, told MNNBC earlier this month in a report on the Iowa ads that Christie has nominated multiple conservatives to the Supreme Court but several have been blocked by the Democratic-controlled Senate. He told MSNBC Christie has still been able to get three Republicans on the court and accuses the Judicial Crisis Network of “showing up only to criticize after the fights are over.”