What’s a Princeton-based business and entertainment newspaper doing reporting on the behavior of the state government? Good question.

First off we think the quality of the political environment is inextricably tied to the economic climate. Show us a dysfunctional government and we can often show you a dysfunctional business climate.

In addition, covering political battles is not a new thing for U.S. 1. In 1990 we covered the campaign of the president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities trying to upset Senator Bill Bradley. Christine Todd Whitman lost that race by just two percentage points (but later won the race for governor, serving from 1994 to 2001).

We profiled a scientist from the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab when he first ran for congress in 1998. In 2012 we profiled Rush Holt again, along with his opponent, Princeton-based businessman Scott Sipprelle.

In January, 2009, as Barack Obama prepared to take office as president, we polled various central New Jersey policy analysts and asked them what advice they would give the new president. And in December, 2009, after Chris Christie was elected governor, we took the same approach.

We received input from a diverse group, including John Sarno, president of the Employers Association of New Jersey; Philip Kirschner, president of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association; Debbie Hart, president of BioNJ, the technology trade group; Ingrid Reed, policy analyst and director of the New Jersey Project at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers; William Dressel, executive director of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities; and Marie Bilik, executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association, among others.

Also quoted in our story: Christie Whitman, the former director of the federal Environmental Protection Agency and — perhaps more relevant — the former governor. Chris Christie helped her significantly in her failed run for U.S. Senate in 1990, and the two have been political friends for nearly 20 years. Whitman’s advice then seems particularly prescient now, when Christie faces problems no one imagined just four years ago:

“First, find people you trust. Remember that you cannot do everything on your own, so select advisors and cabinet members whose counsel you can heed. You should determine your policy principles, and then dispatch them to do their best work. Trust their advice.

“Second, you have a resource that no governor before you has had — a lieutenant governor. This is a tremendous resource, especially given who yours is. Together, you and Kim Guadagno can shape this role into something that will be highly beneficial to the state. She is a bright and thoughtful woman who will be an excellent addition to New Jersey’s leadership.”

Dan Aubrey’s first person account begins on page 27. As always, U.S. 1 welcomes responses from readers who may have had their own interaction — good or bad — with the people in power under the capitol dome.

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