By David Cruz
After a tough week in Trenton slashing pension contributions and making deals on Supreme Court judges, Gov. Chris Christie found himself back in the warm embrace of the Jersey Shore as he kicked off his annual Memorial Day weekend shore tour, the morning’s foggy conditions not withstanding.
“I said to a lot of people that the absolute worst thing about being governor is the weather, because you don’t have any control over it and you get blamed for whatever happens after it,” the governor told a crowd on the boardwalk in Belmar.
Christie used similar language to describe the public employee’s pension system this week, but down the shore everything seemed all right for the governor as he worked a large crowd on Ocean Avenue, with not one question about bridges or pensions. He said none of the week’s tough decisions were burdening him today.
“I make decisions and I move on,” he said. “The tough part is getting to a decision. Once you get to a decision, in this job, if you continue to look in your rear-view mirror, you’ll be paralyzed, so I get paid to make tough decisions. I make them and I move on because, you know what? Next week, there’ll be three or four more.”
Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty, a Democrat, has been by the governor’s side at each of his now eight post-Sandy visits. “I’m a Democrat who realizes that any opportunity you have to have the governor in your town to highlight your small businesses is an opportunity you have to seize,” he said.
The governor says the state’s $40 billion industry is largely back on its feet, but always needs a push to get started, which is what this tour is all about. He lingered in Belmar, where he spent the early part of the day on sports radio, before moving on to his next stop, Asbury Park, where the sun finally made an appearance.
Asbury is where the governor celebrated his election night victory in November and has been the scene of some of his more successful post-Sandy visits. Today he cut the ribbon on the restored portion of the boardwalk and strolled the boards, past Fortune Teller Madame Marie’s.
“I’d go into Madame Marie’s but I’m scared,” he joked. “I’m afraid of what Madame Marie might say.”
Mayor Myra Campbell said she was optimistic that her city was poised for a successful summer. “We’re building each and every year,” she said. “We have more people coming down. We have more investors. We have more people on the beach. We have more people enjoying our restaurants and our nightlife, so we’re on the move.”
Christie spent some time with shop owners, who said they’re hoping for a rebound year, with hopefully some better weather than last.
“I have certain numbers to make,” admitted Roy Werts, who owns Posh Den Boutique and runs the Asbury Park Chamber of Commerce. “If not, I have to seriously consider what I’m doing because you do everything right, and it rains. Last year, in addition to getting hit by Sandy, we had a really rainy May and June.”
The governor will spend the weekend touring shore spots including Ocean City and Wildwood before getting back to his other work, like wrestling a budget to the ground with about a month left in the fiscal year.
Today began shrouded in fog, but the sun was shining in Asbury Park. Still, there were storm clouds looming in the distance. A governor might be wise to bring an umbrella.