NORTH BRUNSWICK —The legislature is gone for the summer and Chris Christie only has a few months left as governor. But he’s made several appearances around the state recently, talking up Jersey’s improving economy.

During an appearance in Middlesex County on Thursday, he said “the story of lagging growth by New Jersey is an old story. You need to look at the numbers today: No one in the northeast has a better story of employing their citizens than this state does.”

He went on to say for those who are critical of his administration’s record, “all I’ll say to them is, let’s see if they can improve upon it. Let’s see if they can make unemployment lower. Let’s see if they can employ more folks in the private sector.”

Christie again stressed the New Jersey unemployment rate when he became governor was 9.8 percent, and now it’s down to 4.1 percent, lower than the national average.

"It’s time for us to start writing the story of New Jersey’s economic success, and that success I think in a large measure is built upon the policies that we put together."

So what’s going on here? Why is Christie traveling around New Jersey, patting himself on the back?

According to Rider University political science professor Ben Dworkin, Christie is worried about his legacy.

“He’s finishing up eight years in Trenton and he really wants people to be thinking about him in terms of the economic record,” he said.

Dworkin noted Christie has created more private sector jobs and unemployment has dropped, he held the line on tax increases and got the state sales tax to drop slightly as part of the Transportation Trust Fund reauthorization deal. But “when he’s at 15 percent approval, people simply aren’t giving him the credit for it. So many people disapprove of him right now, I don’t think anybody is willing to give him the credit.”

Dworkin added, “He clearly came in and changed Trenton. He had, in his first two years in particular, a tremendous amount of success. So that is part of his legacy, along with Bridgegate, along with the failed presidential bid, along with his strong endorsement of Donald Trump.”

“When you’re at 15 percent approval rating as the governor is, you want to go around the state and remind people that unemployment has dropped, that jobs have been created.”

Dworkin added it might not make a difference with his popularity right now, but overall people will look back at his time as governor “and he wants them to be reminded that New Jersey actually did come out of the Great Recession and had some significant growth over time.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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