A group of nine local New Jersey Democrats Thursday endorsed Republican Gov. Chris Christie, citing his bipartisan approach and efforts to reign in property taxes.
“It’s the best thing for the state of New Jersey to have Chris Christie re-elected governor,” Raymond McDonough, the mayor of Harrison, said during an early morning press conference at an East Newark diner.
McDonough praised Christie’s public employee pension reforms, property tax cap and willingness to work closely with President Obama in the wake of Superstorm Sandy in October.
Joining McDonough and Christie was the entire Harrison town council, whom McDonough persuaded to support Christie when he runs for a second term later this year. The Harrison officials are the first Democrats in the state to endorse the popular Republican.
“I actually made the decision six months ago,” McDonough said, after seeing Christie in action at more than 20 town-hall style meetings with the public.
“Then why did you make we wait so long? I just heard last night,” Christie quipped.
“This isn’t easy for Democrats to come out in support of a Republican. I applaud their courage,” Christie later added.
Harrison and the county where it’s located, Hudson, have been reliable Democratic strongholds for generations. Less than a third of voters in the town of about 13,000 voted for Christie in 2009, when he ran against incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine.
McDonough, who has served as mayor for 18 years, recalled the last time the town’s elected officials bucked party lines to support a GOP candidate, in the mid-1980s, when they endorsed Tom Kean, a moderate Republican also popular with Democrats who later served as co-chair of the commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks.
Christie Thursday described Kean as a “mentor.”
Christie will likely face state Sen. Barbara Buono in the general election. The 59-year-old Metuchen resident has recently picked up endorsements from several county party chairs as well as the Democratic Governor’s Association.
While taking questions on other topics, Christie declined to comment on allegations that US Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey consorted with prostitutes during trips to the Dominican Republic.
“When I was a prosecutor I hated politicians who gave an opinion on cases where I was involved,” Christie said.
Christie also confirmed he would be heading to the Super Bowl in New Orleans this weekend to attend a “handoff” ceremony with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Next year’s Super Bowl will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
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