WASHINGTON — Gov. Christie warned Thursday that the candidates running to succeed him were making campaign promises that could rapidly reverse the progress he said New Jersey has made under his leadership.
“I am fearful as I begin to listen to the start of this campaign that there are promises being made that no checkbook in New Jersey could pay for,” Christie said at the Marriott Wardman Hotel, where hundreds of New Jersey business executives, lobbyists, lawmakers, and others traveled via chartered train on an annual trip.
Even as he touted job growth and other accomplishments, Christie, a second-term Republican, noted that New Jersey remains among the highest-taxed states in the nation — a problem he said could be exacerbated by his successor.
“The governor has no money of their own. Every nickel I’ve spent over the last seven years has been yours: your employees’, your businesses',’ ” he said. “And yet all we hear from candidates thus far is, 'Yes.' Beware. Beware. When they want your vote, the craven ones will just say yes.”
Speaking to reporters after his speech, Christie specifically questioned calls to commit billions of dollars to the state pension system for public workers.
The Democratic gubernatorial candidates include Phil Murphy, a former Goldman Sachs executive and U.S. ambassador to Germany; Assemblyman John Wisniewski of Middlesex County; State Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak of Union County; and former U.S. Treasury official Jim Johnson.
Declared candidates seeking the GOP nomination include Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli of Somerset County.
The primaries are scheduled for June.
Among the dignitaries riding the train to Washington were Murphy, the Democratic front-runner, and Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, the new archbishop of Newark. The trip, sponsored by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, was full of booze and the guests took advantage of the festivities.
Christie, who is Catholic and traveled separately, said he j0kingly told the cardinal, “Go to confession. Your Eminence, get to confession, quickly.”
In addition to Christie, U.S. Sens. Cory A. Booker and Bob Menendez, both New Jersey Democrats, spoke at the dinner.