By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
The Democratic Party’s top power broker in South Jersey, George Norcross, and the top elected Republican in the state, Gov. Christie, stood together this morning for an announcement.
Cooper University Health Care in Camden, of which Norcross is board chairman, is teaming up with MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, to provide expanded cancer treatment and research in South Jersey.
“I want to welcome MD Anderson to New Jersey,” said Christie. “It is an extraordinary moment for our state to have the leading cancer treatment institute in the world come to New Jersey and expand their reach.”
Cooper broke ground last year on a $100 million cancer institute that opens in October.
MD Anderson was ranked number one by U.S. News and World Report, just ahead of Sloan-Kettering in New York and New Jersey.
“MD Anderson is not only the number one cancer center in the country, it’s the number one cancer center in the galaxy,” proclaimed Norcross. “And we are so proud that not only will they be in New Jersey but they”re coming to Camden, New jersey, a place that is changing, a place that’s changing for the better.”
Norcross said South Jerseyans will no longer need to go to Philadelphia for world-class cancer treatment.
The head of MD Anderson, Dr. Ronald DePinho, said it’s great to come to a state where the government gets involved in fighting cancer.
“To join in a partnership that enables us together to defeat this dreaded disease, to dethrone this emperor of maladies is a great day for patients and a very dark day for cancer,” DePinho.
The appearance of Christie and Norcross together raised the persistent question of whether Norcross, who has worked well with Christie, is secretly backing the Republican for re-election. 1:52
Democratic Senator Brian Stack endorsed Christie late this afternoon.
Democratic Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo will do so tomorrow.
Norcross handled the question by saying Gov. Christie and then U.S. Attorney Christie has cared much about the city of Camden, something near and dear to my heart for the last decade.”
Norcross went on to recognize Christie’s predecessors.
“This is nothing new,” he said, “sust as I would applaud Gov. McGreevey, who began this cancer initiative in South Jersey, and Gov. Corzine who continued it, Gov. Christie who supports it as much as possible and I applaud him for that.”
Norcross some months ago expressed confidence in Barbara Buono and is said to be too staunch a democrat to openly back a Republican.