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.
Remember Texas filibuster master Wendy Davis, the state senator who skyrocketed from obscurity to national fame on the heels of hot pink sneakers and an 11-hour filibuster over an anti-abortion bill? Davis lost her fight over the abortion bill, but yesterday she announced she is running for the Democratic nomination for Texas governor.
This is likely to be one of the more high-profile elections of 2014, because Texas is the second biggest state in the country, abortion is the backdrop and Davis is a political celebrity.
But Chris Christie is also a political celeb. And next year, assuming he wins re-election in November, Christie will be chairman of the Republican Governors Association -- traveling the country raising money for whatever Republicans are running against whatever Democrats.
Joseph "Joe D." DiVincenzo is known in political circles as the "North Jersey Democratic boss." He's also the Essex County executive, a possible future candidate for governor and a very public, very outspoken supporter of Gov. Christie. Just about everywhere Christie has gone in Essex County this campaign season, DiVincenzo has tagged along.
So the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial challenger Barbara Buono jumped on the news today that DiVincenzo faces millions of dollars in potential fines from the state Election Law Enforcement Commission over alleged campaign finance violations -- including using campaign donations to pay for a tuxedo, TV, gym membership and parking ticket. The Star-Ledger, which first investigated DiVincenzo over his use of campaign funds to take a trip to Puerto Rico, did the math: ELEC says he misused a total of $16,548 in campaign funds and failed to disclose 614 campaign expenditures worth $71,810.
Each violation carries a possible $6,800 fine.
If the House of Representatives was controlled by a hard-left wing of the Democratic party, and the White House was inhabited by a Republican named President Chris Christie, would the government shut down?
OK, Christie is still only running for reelection in New Jersey. But in a recent interview he left open the possibility of quitting early and running for president: "We'll see, I don't know. That's a decision I have to make further down the road." So it's reasonable to wonder what would happen if President Christie was hanging in the Oval office.
According to the would-be president himself, this is what he would do:
Who is the man who may be most responsible for Gov. Christie's political successes -- and his defeats? In Sunday's paper, I took a long, long look at Senate President Stephen Sweeney, pulling the curtain back to see how the state's most powerful elected Democrat operates. Here's the story:
On a brisk and sunny January day, in front of an oil refinery's circular white storage tanks, at the intersection of two of South Jersey's busiest roadways, Steve Sweeney embarked on a political odyssey unlike anything the state had ever seen.
His goal, he told reporters gathered for his news conference, was to use his powers as the state Senate president to make sure the large refinery behind him finally got cleaned of contamination.
In a first-person account in yesterday's paper, I tried to score an interview with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. Here's the story:
She stepped from the black Suburban, that omnipresent yet elusive shadow of Gov. Christie, and gave the lone reporter waiting for her a kiss on the cheek.
Turns out Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno shows up on time for public appearances, unlike her boss. Already I had learned something.
Ignoring the views of the state's opinion writers who say that focusing on a 13-year-old pay raise vote is "a small-bore issue more fitting a race for freeholder" and a "lightweight political distraction," the gov is hammering away at opponent Barbara Buono on this pay raise vote in a new TV ad out this morning.
The ad focuses on a 2000 vote cast by Buono -- now a state senator, then a state assemblywoman -- on a Republican bill to raise the pay of the governor, cabinet members, judges and yes, legislators. The bill was signed into law by Republican Gov. Christie Todd Whitman. Buono's salary went from $35,000 to $49,000, where it remains today.
ORANGE — The heckler, decked out in two buttons with the name Christie crossed out, trailed Gov. Christie up and down Main Street in this small, mostly minority, working-class city Tuesday afternoon.
Beryl Mills was one of more than a dozen who showed up in downtown Orange to yell at Christie about everything from his opposition to the minimum wage to his cuts to education funding his first year in office to the downtown library that has been closed for months.
A couple of hecklers even threw in fat jokes.