Are Chris Christie and Cory Booker too close for comfort?
They are the political ‘odd couple.’ New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie and Newark’s Democratic Mayor Cory Booker released a web video this week parodying Seinfeld, poking fun at each other’s unique reputations.
Christie pokes fun at the persistent rumors that he will be Mitt Romney’s pick for vice president. The video also mocks Booker’s superhero status, after he literally saved a neighbor from a burning building, and his history of shoveling the streets of Newark himself.
WATCH THE GRIO’S JOY-ANN REID DISCUSS CHRIS CHRISTIE’S AMBITIONS:
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Setting aside the lighthearted nature of the video for a moment, it is interesting to see these two elected officials from different sides of the political spectrum together and seeming to get along. It’s certainly not a common occurrence these days. But it also could be evidence that, in their own way, both of these two politicians are using their political savvy to work together in this way to direct their future endeavors.
It is no secret that Governor Christie wants to be president of the United States. Part of the reason he didn’t run this year is because President Obama is going to be very difficult to beat as an incumbent. The power of incumbency is real and Christie knew it; he seems to have passed on running this year in order to try with much better odds in 2016. Christie is up for re-election to the state house in 2013, so any consideration of a veep slot with Romney would take into account the probability of losing to Obama this year. Certainly, the calculation at this point is run for re-election in 2013 and then a White House run in 2016.
Mayor Cory Booker’s unorthodox alliance with Christie is likely based on a number of different factors. First off, as the mayor of New Jersey’s largest city, it’s possible that an amicable working relationship with the governor of the state is good for business and good for his constituents. Certainly, Christie’s budget cuts to public education hurt the city of Newark particularly hard.
Booker’s chummy relationship with Christie isn’t just about doing work for the people of Newark, it’s also likely a strategic move based on his own personal ambition. Booker’s last office will certainly not be as the mayor of Newark. His bright future could be as a Senator and a bipartisan track record in a mixed bag state like New Jersey certainly enhances his credentials.
That said, the future is somewhat unclear for Booker because Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) says he’s not retiring in 2014. That means that there will not be an open seat for Booker to fill in the Senate and with Christie running for re-election in 2013 only a direct challenge to his ally for a shot at the governor’s mansion. Recently, Booker has actually hinted at running for a third term as mayor until 2018 which would mean all routes to higher office would be clear.
Both men benefit from appearing to get along. With the partisan gridlock in Congress, two elected officials from different parties that do disagree on certain issues, but can still laugh it up and get along, is certainly symbolic of a different tone in politics. Christie says the video parody is “emblematic of his approach to governing.”
Booker’s spokesman was singing the same bipartisan tone and said of the video, “It’s refreshing to see two political figures reach across the aisle and put politics aside to show that bipartisanship is possible when elected officials make it a priority.”
The two politicians certainly know that appearing to be reasonable and willing to see past the partisan squabbles and budget battles garners support. Certainly neither Christie nor Booker is naïve or unaware of how a lighthearted video can boost approval ratings. But while both men are concerned about appearances, the people of New Jersey are likely hoping it wasn’t all for show.
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @zerlinamaxwell