New Jersey’s Odd Couple Governors Visit Correctional Center

Photograph by Mel Evans/AP Photo

Inmates, left, and former Gov. Jim McGreevey, right, laugh as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, second right, makes a joke while answering a question at the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny, N.J., on May 8, 2013.

One reporter likened them to “The Odd Couple,” the Neil Simon creation about male roommates with opposite personalities.

The setting today, though, wasn’t that pair’s roomy Manhattan apartment. It was a women’s unit at the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny, New Jersey. The stars were Republican Gov. Chris Christie and one of his predecessors, the Democrat Jim McGreevey.

There they sat, the sassy, hard-charging and secretly Lap-Banded Christie (more about that in a sec) and McGreevey, 55, who resigned in disgrace in 2004 after declaring himself a “gay American” disclosing an extramarital affair with an aide. Their mission: extoll the virtues of rehabilitating nonviolent drug offenders at the Integrity House recovery program led by McGreevey.

Christie, speaking to reporters, said he was “absolutely not” uncomfortable alongside McGreevey, whose party he has criticized for shepherding New Jersey’s fiscal morass. He said he’s even had conversations with McGreevey on establishing “drug courts,” which emphasize substance-abuse treatment over punishment.

McGreevey, who led the 26 women through song, personal stories and recitation of the Serenity Prayer, said the group was “blessed to have the governor here.”

Christie, 50, has struggled with his weight since he stopped playing sports in school. His cheeks and chin aren’t as full as they were just a few weeks ago, and he told the New York Post on May 6 that he had secretly undergone the Lap Band procedure of gastric banding surgery in February. At a news conference in Newark yesterday, he said he had kept the matter quiet because he considered it personal, to the extent that he had registered under a fake name at New York University Langone Medical Center’s Weight Management Program.

He declined yesterday to say how much he had weighed and lost. Any reporter hoping to break the big news today was disappointed. Christie took just two questions unrelated to the recovery program. Neither involved his tummy.

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