Chris Christie's Family Pulls in $700,000 a Year, But Isn't "Wealthy"


Over at The Daily Beast, Olivia Nuzzi catches up with regular-guy Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), who is running for the GOP presidential nomination and whose sense of reality is cloudier than the water at good ol' Ideal Beach in the summer of '13.

"I don't consider myself a wealthy man," Chris Christie said Friday in New Hampshire. That would be the same Chris Christie who, according to his tax returns, made $698,838 in 2013 – $160,054 of which he earned as Governor of New Jersey, and $475,854 of which came from his wife, Mary Pat Christie, who works at a New York investment bank.

Well, sure, cough, cough, New Jersey is an expensive place to live, with one of the very highest combined state and local tax burdens in the country, a terrible business environment, insanely high property values, and all that. And if feeling "wealthy" is all about relative status, then Christie, who has flown in the personal jets of friends and kings (literally), may be feeling sads that when he takes helicopters to check out his son's high school baseball games, he doesn't own the aircraft (worse, he eventually even has to pay for part of the ride).

But compared to the average jamuck in Jersey—and everyone else on the planet—he's doing pretty damn well:

Christie's income is nearly ten times New Jersey's median, which in 2013 was $71,692; and well over $539,000, the amount necessary to qualify as one of the top 1% of earners there.

Buh, buh, buh… Nuzzi transcribes Christie's own explanation:

"Listen, wealth is defined in a whole bunch of different ways, and in the end, Mary Pat and I have worked really hard, we've done well over the course of our lives – um, but, you know, we have four children to raise and a lot of things to do, so, no, I don't, I don't consider myself and I don't think most people think of me that way."

Read the whole thing here.

Hmm, he could really benefit from the non-phased-out, non-paid-for superfantastic expanded child tax credit in the Rubio-Lee tax plan!

Last year, I predicted that Christie won't play well outside the borders of New Jersey (the greatest state in the Union) for all sorts of reasons. First and foremost among them: The very personal attributes necessary for success in the Garden State, especially the irradiated political clam bed that is Trenton politics, will make it hard for him to figuratively cross the Delaware.

As Tony Soprano (played so memorably by the late Jersey native James Gandolfini), could tell you, the same forces that spur ambition and success also carry within them their own demise. It quickly becomes difficult to know when serious lines are being crossed or the wrong messages are being sent to the people around you.

Going on about how you're not "wealthy" despite a $700,000 annual household income is definitely one of those latter moments. This doesn't rise to the level of French aristocrats playing at being peasants before the Revolution, but it certainly is annoying and shows not just a tin ear but a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of what most Americans take home, how hard they work (or think they work) and how they struggle to cover their month. Christie and other "wealthy" pols should never apologize for their money. But they also shouldn't goof around with idiotic definitions of rich either.