First, Steve Kornacki in Salon:
Kornacki points us to this from Jason Zingerle in New York:
And Mother Jones's Andy Kroll weighs in:“Christie’s managed to completely co-opt our party leadership,” says one Democratic legislator. How he’s done so is a matter of much theorizing in New Jersey political circles. One explanation is fairly prosaic: He’s simply engaged in the sort of transactional politics that have always defined Trenton, restoring nearly $17 million of proposed cuts to Essex County (thereby allowing DiVincenzo to avoid layoffs) and pledging $28 million in annual funds to a new medical school in Camden (the pet project of Norcross).But a number of New Jersey Democrats take a more conspiratorial line. They mutter darkly—and circulate PowerPoint slides—about a state investigation into voter fraud in Essex County that, under Corzine, produced indictments against several members of Adubato and DiVincenzo’s political organization and appeared to be creeping closer to the two bosses themselves but that, since Christie became governor, seems to have ground to a halt. They speculate it was not a coincidence that Norcross was the biggest fish Christie failed to catch during his time as U.S. Attorney, noting that he didn’t prosecute the boss even after the state attorney general referred a case against him to the Feds. (At the time, Christie said the state had botched its investigation.)Christie and his allies dismiss the allegations as unfounded—“I’m not going to dignify any of that with a response,” says his spokesperson Maria Comella—and the thinking does carry a hint of paranoia on the part of Democrats, who are still coming to grips with Christie’s success. Then again, this is New Jersey. When I asked one prominent Garden State Democrat what he thinks is going on, he answered, “I can go as deep into my own suspicions as you want.”
Undoubtedly.So what happened? After all, this is New Jersey we're talking about, where public-sector unions are traditionally a pillar of support for Dems in fundraising, get-out-the-vote, and at the ballot box. According to the New York Times, Christie was able to cobble together support for his bill, which he called a model for other state legislatures, by taking advantage of the Garden State's old-school, city-centric political system:In his campaign to rein in the unions and shrink government, Mr. Christie has often been helped by New Jersey’s unique political culture, where local political machines still dominate some areas, and many state legislators also hold local government jobs. That gives striking influence in Trenton to mayors, county executives, and local party bosses who struggle with rising labor costs and have repeatedly sided with the governor’s push to cut benefits and wages.There's another intriguing narrative here—namely, how the state Democratic Party function effectively after a handful of its members backed a bill hugely unpopular with the Democratic base. What we'll likely see, per the Newark Star-Ledger, is a growing schism among New Jersey Democrats:Today's union protest, like other recent demonstrations, did nothing to stop the bill. But it did highlight the growing fissures in the state Democratic Party. While Sweeney and Oliver were pushing the bill, the chairman of the state party, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), was rallying protesters with two-dozen other Democrats. "I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," he said. Bob Master, a leader in the Communications Workers of America, said Democrats should not be "collaborating" with Christie.Opponents of Christie's bill have a nickname for those Democratic "collaborators": Christie Democrats. That will be a damning label to hang around a Democrat's neck when re-election rolls around.