TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s time in office is over next week.
CBS2’s Alice Gainer had a look back Thursday at the governor’s controversies and accomplishments.
In the mostly blue state of New Jersey, Republican Gov. Christie was elected to two terms. But at the end, he had most voter seeing red – in a different kind of way.
“I did vote for him; was very disappointed towards the end,” one woman said.
“I have nothing good to say about that man,” another said. “He’s ruined us.”
“I felt that he was a bully,” a third said.
On March 3, 2010, just after Christie took office, one poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University found a majority of voters – 52 percent – approved of how he did his job – compared with 21 percent who disapproved and 28 percent who were unsure.
“He started out real good,” a woman said.
The 55th governor of the Garden State immediately became known for his brash demeanor – amplified during moments like one news conference he gave before Hurricane Irene.
“Get the hell off the beach,” he said in his warning in August 2011.
Post-Superstorm Sandy in 2012, as the floodwaters receded, Christie’s approval rating surged to 77 percent. Many residents were pleased with his response to the storm and how he toured the damage with then-President Barack Obama.
Christie was reelected to a second term in 2013. Afterward, things began declining for the governor.
“As more time came after Sandy, I think people started seeing: ‘Well, you know, the money isn’t flowing as quickly as we need. People are still not in their houses. Progress is not being made,” said Alfred Doblin, editorial page editor for The Record.
Doblin said from there, the problems and scandals piled up. Among them was the Bridgegate scandal.
In November 2016, Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and Bill Baroni, a Christie appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, were convicted of scheming with former Christie ally David Wildstein to punish Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing Christie when he ran for re-election in 2013. Wildstein pleaded guilty.
“I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue in its planning or its execution and I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here, regardless of what the facts ultimately uncovered, this was handled in a callous and indifferent way,” Christie said at a January 2014 news conference. “I knew nothing about this until it started to be reported in the papers about the closures. But even then, I was told it was a traffic study.”
Most recently, there was Beachgate.
Christie was photographed over the Fourth of July weekend last year by NJ.com at Island Beach State Park, where the state provides a summer home to the governor. Christie ordered the shutdown of nonessential state government, including state beaches and parks, amid a budget impasse.
Christie ran for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, spending most of a year out of state campaigning. While in New Hampshire he was asked why he was not home in New Jersey for the flooding aftermath of the blizzard of 2016.
Christie said the flooding was not as bad as it could have been and that Cape May was the only county where flooding happened.
“I don’t know exactly what you expect me to do,” Christie said in a January 2016 Town Hall event. “You want me to go down there with a mop?”
Christie dropped out of the race shortly afterward and went on to endorse Donald Trump.
So what is Christie’s legacy beyond the infamous sound bites?
Doblin said first to mind will be, “Chris Christie, GWB, big guy sitting on a beach looking unfortunate.”
But in the long term, Doblin said Christie’s accomplishments will be felt.
“His real gift to New Jersey has been the judicial reforms,” Doblin said. “You know, that it is pretty much — there’s almost no cash bail, you know, in New Jersey.”
Doblin also cited Christie’s “pitch for drug courts wanting to have treatment rather than incarceration for nonviolent offenders.”
Christie also feuded with the teachers’ union and police and fire unions. And when it comes to the state’s pension crisis, Doblin said: “That’s all true — he’s put more money into the system than any other governor, but he hasn’t put in enough.”
As for Christie’s work in fighting the opioid crisis, Doblin said: “Is it about Christie, you know, wanting to pursue something that has tremendous value and then at the same time recognizing, you know, ‘This is the thing that people will make everyone focus on me and this issue, and not on the bridge.”
Christie, 55, finishes his time as governor with just a 15 percent approval rating – the lowest ever recorded in the history of the state.
But he still has his supporters.
“I think he tried the best he could,” said Joseph Greco of North Haledon. “He was a good man. He still is in my eyes. Everybody makes mistakes.”
CBS2 requested an interview with Christie. He declined.
After eight years in office, his last day is Tuesday – after which time he will cede the office to Democrat Phil Murphy.
As for what’s next, Christie has not publicly said.