Stepping out of the Shadows

By Harrison, Brigid | The Record (Bergen County, NJ), July 5, 2015 | Go to article overview

Stepping out of the Shadows


Harrison, Brigid, The Record (Bergen County, NJ)


For the past five years, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno has been relegated to the ribbon-cuttings, the sidelines, the factory tours and yet more ribbon-cuttings. That's about to change.

SOMETIMES a rainbow is just a rainbow. But today, it is something more. Across social media, the now-iconic symbol has come to mean: I support gay rights.

For the past five years, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno has been relegated to the ribbon-cuttings, the sidelines, the factory tours and yet more ribbon-cuttings. She has lived in the shadow of Governor Christie, never being afforded the opportunity to really step into the limelight. Since his first election, the governor made it clear: There was room for only one person in the spotlight, and that was him. Always him.

Among the most telling examples of her sideline relegation: On election night 2013, as Christie stood on the stage, basking in his victory, Guadagno - his running mate, the person whose name was also on the ballot - was nowhere to be seen. No Clinton-Gore hands clasped in victory, no Bush-Cheney back-slapping. Guadagno was conspicuous in her absence from the governor's side.

And so on Tuesday, when Christie announced that he would be seeking the GOP nomination for president, it was interesting but not surprising that Guadagno was kicking off another campaign. Not for the presidency, not for a gubernatorial run (though she acknowledges that she's considering that) but rather for "Tourism Tuesday," a public relations campaign designed to highlight tourist attractions throughout the state. (She spent announcement day at Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton.)

She will tell you, the administration will tell you that "Lt. Governor Guadagno leads the Christie administration's efforts to improve New Jersey's economic vitality, encourage job growth, streamline government and make businesses feel welcome again in New Jersey." And this she does. New Jersey's business community loves her. But the job that she is performing is largely an obvious waste of her considerable talents.

What is infuriating about Guadagno's situation is that, before accepting the position as Christie's running mate, she was elected as the first woman sheriff in Monmouth County, managing a 650- member law enforcement agency. She had also served as a federal prosecutor with the Organized Crime and Racketeering Strike Force in Brooklyn, as an assistant U.S. attorney in Newark, and as a ranking member of the New Jersey Attorney General's Office.

But as Christie's ribbon-cutter in chief, Guadagno has a career like that of a beauty queen, a ceremonial role, and a mute one at that. …

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