By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
Chris Christie got the celebrity treatment this morning in Long Branch. Every couple of feet, someone wanted their picture taken with him, even those too young to vote.
Christie was there to collect the endorsement of Adam Schneider, Long Branch’s Democratic mayor for the last 23 years.
Schneider said he started thinking about supporting Christie after Superstorm Sandy.
“And then I made another 30 to 45 phone calls to friends of mine who are hard-core Democrats. Some of them weren’t thrilled and others said, ‘What are you waiting for?’ And that became the question for me — what am I waiting for? What this state needs right now is somebody who doesn’t care about the next job, he cares about doing this job well,” Schneider said.
“Listen, this is not easy. These things are not easy to do, mayor for 23 years, and a proud Democrat. And you know the fact is, what we want to accomplish in New Jersey and what I think we have accomplished over the last three and a half years is to let people know that the problems and the opportunities that confront New Jersey are more important than any political label we wear. Our job is to get the job done for the people who have elected us,” Christie said.
Schneider said Christie has been responsive since day one of the administration.
Mayor Schneider becomes the 27th elected Democrat in the state to endorse the Republican governor for reelection, and like last week’s marquee endorser, Joe DiVincenzo, he says Christie’s criticism of Republicans in the House of Representatives last January had something to do with his decision.
“For me the turning point was when he called out the Speaker of the House and House Republicans for holding up the Sandy aid bill. That to me, when they did that it was disgraceful. When he called them out, if the Republicans don’t hold that crowd responsible for the obstructionism that’s going on in Washington, there’s no hope. And I said there’s my governor standing up for us,” Schneider said.
And another reason.
“Why would I want new people to work with now? FEMA’s here. I’ve got a lot of rebuilding to do, part of my oceanfront is still in disarray. I don’t want new people. And it’s also that clearly he’s gonna win. The Democrats aren’t particularly supporting Barbara Buono, who I’ve talked to — I mean, she’s a very nice woman — he’s a big favorite right now, so it’s not a big political gamble for me,” Schneider said.
Christie has been holding a 30-point lead over Buono in most polls, but in a new poll from Stockton College, the margin is up to 40 — 64 percent to 24.
One bright spot for Buono — Senate President Steve Sweeney has made it unambiguous and endorsed her.