Gov. Chris Christie (R), a potential 2016 presidential candidate, has suffered setback
after setback in recent days. His rough stretch has included a major blow to his state's budget, sagging popularity at
home, and the loss of a senior staff member.
The Wall Street Journal reported one of Christie's closest and most veteran
advisers, Michael Drewniak, will suddenly resign. Drewniak was the governor's press secretary and he had been with
Christie since his days as New Jersey's US attorney. His exit follows a number of top aides who departed after
Christie's infamous 2013 "Bridgegate" scandal, including his spokesman, main political strategist, chief of
staff, deputy chief of staff, director of intergovernmental affairs, and Port Authority chairman.
more notable, Christie is set to give his sixth state budget address Tuesday afternoon, but major questions persist as to
whether he'll be able to accomplish what he undoubtedly hopes will win him favor among GOP voters: a state in solid fiscal
shape and no tax increases.
A judge ruled on Monday that Christie's previous budget
maneuvers broke the law and ordered the state to make payments to its pension system that the governor tried to delay. A s
a result, Christie will now be "scrambling" to pay $1.57 billion in payments to the state pension system, according to The New York Times . Christie's spokesman vowed to appeal the decision,
which he called " liberal judicial activism." (The judge in question was appointed by one of Christie's Republican predecessors.)
"This is a major, dramatic
development which really changes the scope and tenor of the governor's speech," State Senator Mike Doherty (R) said
of the ruling, according to The Express-Times. "The day of reckoning
has arrived in New Jersey."
Christie's embattled state budget has a myriad of other problems,
including a depleted transportation fund, and competing
claims about a pension deal with unions. Additionally, New Jersey has had its credit rating repeatedly downgraded. Christie blames his predecessors for leaving the state in poor fiscal
health, but it's unclear whether voters will take such a nuanced view.
campaign operation has also come under scrutiny. An attempt to burnish his foreign policy credentials with a February trip
to London turned into a disaster after Christie defended parents who choose not
to vaccinate their kids — temporarily transforming the entire presidential contest into a vaccination debate. He closed
the trip by canceling multiple press conferences and refusing to answer questions. And one of his rivals has
raised questions about his relationship with influential billionaire megadonor Sheldon Adelson.
All these events have apparently not helped Christie win favor in New Jersey. A new poll this month had Christie's
popularity with his own state's voters dipping to an all-time low .
Just 37% of Garden State voters gave him a favorable rating.