I think it’s pretty clear by now that governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has one over-riding principle in his political life: getting to be president. That was the key rationale behind the campaign to punish any Democratic mayors who refused to give him an aura of bipartisanship he could take to the national stage. And that’s the only rationale behind his contemptuous veto of the state legislature’s second attempt to ban the use of gestation crates for sows in factory farms. The crates prevent a pig from moving or turning around for her entire life. They’ve been banned in nine states and throughout the EU. The law was passed by the state Assembly by a vote of 60 to 5 and the state Senate by a vote of 29 to 4. It has the support of close to 90 percent of New Jerseyans in a recent poll. But it would tar Christie’s rep with the hog-farmers in Iowa, and so had to be vetoed. Christie denies that there is a widespread problem at all in New Jersey, with a mere 9,000 pigs, but fails to argue why signing the law wouldn’t merely prevent such cruelty in a few cases or in the future. What’s the harm? He calls a very bipartisan vote a partisan plot.
The veto was not unexpected – but need not be the last word. The state Assembly and the Senate can simply over-ride the veto – and it appears they have the votes to do so. Whether the GOP will follow through – they sure didn’t the last time – is an open question. But I fail to see why they shouldn’t. Christie gets to claim he tried to stop it, and New Jersey can end capricious, money-grubbing cruelty. Win-win no? Especially for the pigs.