The bipartisan-themed Chris Christie Re-election Campaign reached extraordinary heights today, when the state's most powerful Democratic power broker shared the stage with the Republican gov for several minutes of teasing, praising and mutual admiration.
All this one month before the gubernatorial election.
Officially, Gov. Christie's visit to Camden was to mark the opening of the new $100 million MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, as my colleague Emily Babay at Philly.com reported. But of more political significance was the fact that Christie was sharing the stage with some serious Democrats.
The chairman of Cooper University Hospital -- and the man who was universally praised as being most responsible for bringing the world-renowned cancer center to the city -- is George E. Norcross III. Long a Democratic political power broker in South Jersey, Norcross's influence has in recent years expanded statewide, and he and Christie, despite the partisan difference, have developed a fruitful working relationship. (Norcross is also an owner of the parent company of The Inquirer and Philly.com).
Christie in recent weeks has been hanging hard with Democrats. He has now collected 49 endorsements from elected Dems -- most notably Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, a power broker in his own right. Although Norcross hasn't explicitly endorsed Christie, he has done little to support the candidacy of the Democratic nominee, State Sen. Barbara Buono (D., Middlesex).
Buono was not in attendance today.
Christie and Norcross expanded on the nature of their relationship like never before on Monday. They have attended Mets-Phillies games together, they said (Christie is a Mets fan; Norcross is a Phillies fan). And they are chummy enough that Norcross talked football smack on the gov, saying he was glad that Christie's team, the Dallas Cowboys, lost "with pain" last night.
As Norcross closed in on landing the MD Anderson cancer center for Camden, he said he personally called Christie to notify him. He then said he recently saw a man in Washington, DC, wearing a T-shirt that read, "Chris Christie: Too Big To Fail."
After the laughs subsided, Norcross said: "You're not too big too fail -- you're too good and too important to fail us."
Christie took the stage, making his own weight joke despite his recent sensitivity on the issue: "Given that introduction, I think I have a pretty wide berth -- so to speak."
Christie, who as U.S. Attorney inherited, and then dropped, an investigation into Norcross, went on to praise Norcross's "relentlessness" in bringing the cancer center to Camden.
U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), whom Christie also once investigated, likewise made the trip to Camden. The gov noted that he had run into Menendez at a swearing-in ceremony on Friday and then at a a parade on Sunday. "I missed you on Saturday, but it's great to be back together again," Christie said.
U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D., Camden) called the bipartisanship "incredibly disorienting" -- considering the place where he works, the House of Representatives, is so bedeviled by partisanship that the federal government shut down.
Christie said he and Andrews had been "friends for many years."