By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
The Port Authority Police Benevolent Association endorsed Democrat Jon Corzine in 2009 and 2005 and Democrat Jim McGreevey in 2001. This morning at the Newark Airport Hilton, it cast its lot this year with the Republican incumbent.
“He stood shoulder to shoulder with me and my members on all our security issues. We think he’s a strong leader,” said Port Authority PBA President Paul Nunziato.
The PBA represents 1,300 rank and file officers in the 1,600-person force that patrols the bridges, tunnels, airports and other facilities of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
As U.S. attorney, Christie worked with the Authority and said he knows its police risk their lives to protect the public.
“I learned that over the seven years that I was United States attorney and then when I was elected governor in 2009, I had the opportunity finally to try to right some of the wrongs that happened over those years, things that as U.S. attorney I could do nothing about except just sit on the sidelines and shake my head,” Christie said.
Two issues lie behind the union’s endorsement. One, an attempt by management to install high-tech perimeter security at the airports in lieu of cops.
“Three short years ago our agency was replacing boots on the ground with technology. We all know that technology can enhance law enforcement, but it cannot replace police officers,” Nunziato said.
The union has also been fighting an NYPD attempt to take over command of the new World Trade Center.
“So as I stand here this morning, let’s make one thing perfectly clear. Given all I’ve learned over the years, all the ways that we’ve worked together, never, not ever on my watch, will there be any other police force who will patrol the new World Trade Center other than the Port Authority police,” Christie said.
“That’s been a looming issue since 2008, yes. The NYPD was trying to take control of the World Trade Center,” Nunziato said.
This is the second major union endorsement for Christie. The first was the Laborers International.
In 2009, the Port Authority PBA endorsed Jon Corzine about two months before election day. This time it’s backing Christie nine and a half months before the election, and before we even know who the Democratic nominee is.