Our Tony Soprano of Jersey Politics

Expect to see a heated Christie-Clinton challenge in 2016. (AP Photo)

Fat puns, “Joisee” jive and polarized opinions dominate the public perception of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. To a boisterous East Coast population, he has ascended to some degree of legacy in his first term of unabashed politicking. A weighty reputation rests upon his shoulders — a doer, a mover, a shaker and other physical movements that are notably tiring to do.

And here plunge the jokes again.

(When ever will this state see its promised Ben & Jerry’s reforms?)

But it does not take a scholarly panel to render a rational opinion on Christie, nor does it take a gesticulating Italian-American. It requires a bit of clarity on his agenda instead. For, in lieu of past New Jersey governors, Christie can be praised as a man adamant on his word with divisive policy initiatives fighting to upset many.

Critics would be hard-pressed to dispute Christie as a man of the people. His sober rhetoric can be refreshing in an era of partisanship; slathered in slang, pulsing with brolic, the Governor is able to send honest (and generally unforgiving) words to the people in and out of his state domain.

During a pervasive storm season, Christie is a staunch advocate for citizen safety and state aid. Hurricane Sandy, for example, saw Christie working among the ruins, bulging and sweaty with down-to-earth dirty work (and an appearance on SNL soon after). But for those who avoid his warnings, his candor has a certain charm: “We will not come back to get you,” he insists. Always aggressive, yet charming among the wreckage.

With practicality in mind, Christie is not always blindsided by his party. When a childish NRA ad attacked White House security for protecting the Presidential family with guns, Christie spoke out. “To talk about the president’s children, not by their own choice, but by requirement, to have protection, to use that somehow to try to make a political point I think is reprehensible.” Fellow Republicans called him a sell-out to the gun-ho crusade; I consider his reaction to be rather genuine, folks.

When Christie slumps, however, he’s prepared to fall over. His abrupt cancellation of the rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey scrapped a convenient economic opportunity. Elsewhere, his failure to adopt bipartisan same-sex marriage and medical marijuana proposals is still difficult to stomach (at least for us).

But his most controversial platform remains an iron-fisted dedication towards education reform. The notion is nice. New Jersey does need a comprehensive strategy to combat failing schools and modern innovation. That same sentiment does not stem from his policies, though. Cutting budgets without seeking renewed investment does not lead to later benefits. Attempting to dismantle the SFRA, the state’s school funding formula, neglects the data and background that provide proof of its legitimacy. He prides himself in a savage hunt for teachers unions and their generalized performances. He’s even failed to take advantage of Obama’s Race to the Top school initiative, a bipartisan plan providing grants to certain education incentives. At a press conference, he claimed the Obama administration cheated him out of a grant — in private meeting reality, Christie snubbed a deal with teachers unions that would have made the state eligible (see the Michael Grunwald Times article for hard truths). Where his passion for misguided education reforms come from, only a impossibly meritocratic mind set can say. But that won’t pass the test when state performance is on the line.

There’s plenty to digest here. Christie has larger than life ambitions and a hefty political presence in today’s national arena. He’s a character, for sure; but love him or hate him, some facts on his record could elevate the discussion from his waistline to his head.

Of course, Christie has lustful visions of the Oval Office. Expect to see him  running for the GOP primaries in 2016. Or maybe panting is more appropriate. Oh, it’s just too easy. Fo’get about it.