New Jersey Democrats Are Sucking Up To Chris Christie

The governor’s one-time rivals are now singing his praises, as he’s coasting to re-election.

National Journal
Kevin Brennan
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Kevin Brennan
Oct. 8, 2013, 12:13 p.m.

There’s noth­ing bet­ter than an an­ti­cip­ated land­slide re-elec­tion to get lead­ers from the oth­er party to make nice with you. That’s what New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie is find­ing out as he makes new Demo­crat­ic friends even in the middle of his cam­paign.

Over the last three weeks, Christie has made joint ap­pear­ances with three of the state’s most power­ful Demo­crats, leav­ing state Sen. Bar­bara Buono, Christie’s strug­gling Demo­crat­ic op­pon­ent, forced to watch as some of her highest-pro­file sup­port­ers heap praise upon the gov­ernor.

On Monday, Christie shared the stage with Garden State Demo­crat­ic power broker George Nor­cross on Monday at the open­ing of a can­cer cen­ter at a Cam­den hos­pit­al. Nor­cross has en­dorsed Buono, but he gushed over her op­pon­ent on Monday. After say­ing he re­cently saw a man wear­ing a “Chris Christie: Too Big To Fail” T-shirt, Nor­cross said to the Re­pub­lic­an: “You’re not too big to fail — you’re too good and too im­port­ant to fail us.”

A week earli­er, Christie and Demo­crat­ic state Sen­ate Pres­id­ent Steve Sweeney, who passed on a gubernat­ori­al run earli­er this year and backed Buono, “looked like old friends” while at­tend­ing a ground­break­ing at Row­an Uni­versity to high­light their work to­geth­er on high­er edu­ca­tion le­gis­la­tion. Sweeney, who once called Christie a bully and a punk, told the gov­ernor: “I want to thank you for your will­ing­ness to work with a Demo­crat le­gis­lature.”

Mean­while, Ne­wark May­or Cory Book­er, the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee in next week’s U.S. Sen­ate spe­cial elec­tion, joined Christie two weeks ago for a rib­bon-cut­ting ce­re­mony for Ne­wark’s charter school pro­gram. Book­er, who has en­dorsed Buono but has a fam­ously friendly re­la­tion­ship with the gov­ernor, said: “The lines that di­vide us are not as strong as the ties that bind us. I want to give some guv love.”

These joint ap­pear­ances, along with the grow­ing list of Garden State Demo­crats who have en­dorsed Christie, gel per­fectly with one of his reelec­tion cam­paign’s over­arch­ing mes­sages: That Christie has a unique abil­ity to forge com­prom­ises in an era of hy­per-par­tis­an­ship. Buono has balked at that claim, but each time one of her back­ers touts his co­oper­a­tion with the gov­ernor, it un­der­cuts Buono’s at­tempts to cast the gov­ernor as an un­com­prom­ising ideo­logue.It also gives Christie some im­port­ant Demo­crat­ic al­lies if he de­cides to run for pres­id­ent in 2016.

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