As Republicans in Washington huddled and the partial government shutdown entered its third day, Gov. Chris Christie spent as many days with members of another group: New Jersey’s Democrats.
Since the shutdown began Oct. 1, the 51-year-old Republican Christie has called it “craziness” and a failure on the part of all involved.
He campaigned Tuesday in opposition territory with an appearance in Union City, where he and Democratic mayor and state senator Brian Stack each implored a crowd of about 200 to re-elect the other. He’s chatted up his bipartisan bona fides. Last night, he appeared with state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, and today he feted former Gov. Brendan Byrne in Newark.
Christie, often mentioned as a possible Republican candidate for the White House in 2016, declined to answer questions today as he left the Newark event. He’s spent most of the week drawing a contrast between himself and politicians in Washington from both parties.
“If they need some inspiration in Washington, D.C., to finally figure out how to get the job done the right way, they should look up here to New Jersey and watch Republicans and Democrats work together,” Christie said in Glassboro last night during a joint appearance with Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, also a Democrat. “Even when we’re angry we don’t let ourselves stop talking to each other.”
Jeff Tittel, director of the state chapter of the Sierra Club and a frequent critic of Christie, attended the event today that featured a seven-foot statue of Byrne outside the Essex County Courthouse in Newark. Along with Christie, former Democratic Govs. James Florio and James McGreevey, as well as his political mentor Republican Tom Kean, attended the ceremony.
“Not only is he trying to distance himself from his party and the debacle in Washington and show a difference,” Tittel said, “but he’s also going to rub elbows with as many Democrats as he can before the election.”