The Washington Post

How Christie hurt political science

(Associated Press)

Back in July, well known Rutgers political scientist Alan Rosenthal died. He got a glowing tribute from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Alan was a true New Jerseyan. He loved our state and committed much of his life to the study of its political institutions. He also leaves a legacy of thousands of students who studied under him at Rutgers and consider him a mentor and friend. New Jersey has lost a great advocate and, on behalf of the people of our state, I offer condolences to the Rosenthal family.

However, relations between them weren’t always so congenial, as reports. When New Jersey was going through its last redistricting cycle, Rosenthal was appointed as the tie-breaker between the Republican and Democratic members of the redistricting commission.

[T]he night before Christie arrived, something had gone dreadfully wrong for the Republicans. Alan Rosenthal, who had been appointed by State Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner as the tiebreaker, the person whose vote would decide whose map would win, offered a compromise map for both parties to work with. … The Republicans told Rosenthal thanks, but no thanks. They’d stick to drawing their own map. … The Republicans, with Christie in the room, would have the last word in final arguments before Rosenthal on why he should pick their map … the Democrats … won.

A few months later Christie used his line-item veto powers as governor to axe funding for a fellowship program run by Rosenthal. No doubt Christie only had the interests of New Jersey’s taxpayers at heart. Any collateral damage to a political scientist who had gone against him was just one of those unfortunate coincidences that sometimes happen in politics.

Henry Farrell is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. He works on a variety of topics, including trust, the politics of the Internet and international and comparative political economy.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
New Hampshire has voted. The Democrats debate Thursday. Get caught up on the race.
The big questions after New Hampshire, from The Post's Dan Balz
Can Bernie Sanders cut into Hillary Clinton's strength in the minority community and turn his challenge into a genuine threat? And can any of the Republicans consolidate anti-Trump sentiment in the party in time to stop the billionaire developer and reality-TV star, whose unorthodox, nationalistic campaign has shaken the foundations of American politics?
What happened in New Hampshire
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
What happened in N.H.
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.