They’re the two biggest names in New Jersey politics.
And they’ve both pledged to work for each other’s opponents.
Yet that didn’t stop Chris Christie, the state’s lightning-rod of a Republican governor, and Democrat Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark and front-runner for an Oct. 16 special election for an open Senate seat, from appearing together today for a ribbon-cutting in the city.
Booker, 44, said he won’t stop working for Democrat Barbara Buono regardless of the October contest. Still, he dismissed talk of campaign optics as “silly-season” chatter and gave “some guv-love,” to Christie. For his part, the 51-year-old governor has backed Republican Steven Lonegan or Senate. A poll today showed the governor with a 34-percentage point lead in his race and Booker holds a 12-percentage point lead in recent surveys.
“I don’t know if you’ve heard but the governor and I are in the midst of elections right now — you probably haven’t heard that much about that,” Booker told a couple of hundred people. “The governor and I can write a dissertation on our disagreements. He eats meat – I’m a vegetarian. He likes a good beer perhaps when he’s watching a game — give me some green tea. As you’ve noticed he’s losing weight and I’m gaining it. There are amazing differences between he and I.”
The event also drew Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, who heads one of the most powerful political machines in the state, state legislators and even mayoral candidates hoping to succeed Booker if he goes to Washington. DiVincenzo said there’s no political significance to the joint appearance, which he suggested transcends elections and shows the two cooperating in a way not happening in Washington.
Later, Booker told reporters: “I’m the mayor of the state’s largest city and he’s governor. We have to work together.”