Monday, February 1, 2010

Profile of Christine Todd Whitman

Profile of Christine Todd Whitman
In 2004, Christine Todd Whitman became the first female Governor of New Jersey and only the second Republican female Governor (Kay Orr of Nebraska was the first) in the history of the United States to be elected to the post. Here is a look at her life and accomplishments.

Christine Todd Whitman was born in 1946 in New York City to Eleanor Prentice Schley Todd and Webster B. Todd. She grew up in Hunterdon County, New Jersey and attended Far Hills Country Day School and the Chapin School in Manhattan. She also attended Wheaton College, earning a degree in government. She went on to marry John Whitman, a private equity investor. Whitman wasn't the first member of her family to enter politics. Her husband's grandfather, Charles S. Whitman, served as Governor of New York, and her maternal grandfather, Reeve Schley, was a member of Wolf's Head Society at Yale, vice president of Chase Bank, and president of the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce.

Upon graduation from college, Whitman worked on Nelson Rockefeller's presidential campaign and during the Nixon administration, she worked in the Office of Economic Opportunity, under Donald Rumsfeld. There, she was Deputy Director of the New York State Office in Washington. She was eventually appointed to the Board of Trustees of Somerset County College and served two terms on the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders, as well as serving as Deputy Director and Director of the Board. In 1988, she served as President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

In 1990, Whitman ran against Bill Bradley for a seat in the United States Senate. Even though she lost, the race was close, despite her being called a "longshot." During her campaign, she spoke out against James Florio's tax hikes, which may be why she chose to run against him in 1993. She won by one percentage point and went on to serve two terms, beating Jim McGreevey in 1997.

As Governor of New Jersey, Whitman lowered taxes in the state. Most notably, she reversed the one percent sales tax Governor Florio had imposed and lifted the excise tax on professional wrestling, which brought the World Wrestling Federation back to New Jersey. She worked to reform education. She even appeared in an episode of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit." But perhaps her biggest accomplishments had to do with energy and clean air. Under her leadership, New Jersey's federal one-hour air quality standard ground level ozone violation dropped from 45 to four, allowing more beaches to stay open, and earning the state recognition from the Natural Resources Defense Council She also saw to it that New Jersey implemented a better watershed management program and opened shellfish beds for harvesting.

Whitman's work didn't stop when she left office. In January, 2001, President George W. Bush appointed her as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. She later resigned. In 2005, she wrote the book It's My Party, Too: Taking Back the Republican Party... And Bringing the Country Together Again and formed the "It's My Party Too" political action committee, whose goal is to help elect more moderate Republicans. Whitman, herself, is considered a moderate Republican and has had this to say about Conservatism,

"The defining feature of the conservative viewpoint is a faith in the ability, and a respect for the right, of individuals to make their own decisions - economic, social, and spiritual - about their lives. The true conservative understands that government's track record in respecting individual rights is poor when it dictates individual choices."
Christine Todd Whitman and her husband have two children, Kate and Taylor. Following in her mother's footsteps, Kate ran for Congress in 2008. Whitman currently serves as director of Texas Instruments and United Technologies, is co-chair of CASEnergy Solutions, and has a lobbying group, Whitman Strategy Group, which specializes in matters of the environment and energy. Her dog, Coors, is the mother of former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush's dog, Barney.

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