with Chris Christie, everybody pales in
comparison,” says Michael Murphy, a
founding partner of Impact NJ, a lobbying and consulting firm.
But there was one notable flap involving the New Jersey Council of the
Arts that lingered for more than a year.
Confronting the council, Guadagno demanded council members retake ethics
courses and fire the executive director.
She charged mismanagement by the arts
council in the handling of contracts—
contracts that were overseen by officials
within Guadagno’s state department.
The charges left members of the arts
Steve Runk, the executive director
who eventually resigned, would not dis-
cuss the incident, but said, “I’m not sure
we all know exactly what happened. It
was an ugly time, and I want to put it be-
Guadagno also has been dogged by
charges raised three years ago by the
investigative news website New Jersey
Watchdog.org concerning an appointee
Guadagno brought back to the sheriff’s
office after his retirement who contin-
ued to receive his pension in addition
to his salary—the practice known as
double-dipping. The state pension board
referred the case for review to the divi-
sion of criminal justice in May 2011; no
decision has been announced. Reporter
Mark Lagerkvist is seeking permission
from state court to review material col-
lected in the investigation. Guadagno
says her appointee was well qualified,
and the appointment had been approved
by pension officials and the county board
GUADAGNO DOES NOT ENGAGE in speculation about Christie’s future—or her
own. Christie has been steadfastly ambiguous about his plans, but most New
Jersey voters expect him to run for
president. A Monmouth University/
Asbury Park Press poll conducted in early
December found nearly seven out of 10
New Jerseyans believe Christie is already
planning his run for president, and they
don’t seem to care whether or not he re-signs to run.
Christie doesn’t have to quit Trenton
to be a candidate and could govern from
afar, Blackberry in hand. In any event,
Guadagno is in place to step in for him in
the State House.
“She understands how thick the ice is
underneath, because she’s looked first,”
says Al Koeppe, a former president of
PSE&G who works with Guadagno as the
chairman of the New Jersey Economic
And even if Christie serves out his
second term in Trenton, he is constitu-
tionally barred from running for a third
consecutive term. Asked about 2017, Ko-
eppe says of Guadagno, “She’s the horse
to bet on.”
Adds Senator Beck, “I think she is
an obvious contender for that seat if she
wants to do it.” ■
David Wald is a former Star-Ledger political reporter and columnist.
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