Although he met privately with prominent businesspeople before making his way down Broadway to a more public venue, his speech in both places was generally the same, touting his ability to cross party lines for the good of the state and the need for people to vote for him because he is the right person for the job.
“I love this job,” he said, but emphasized that he is conducting an experiment in politics and that if he got people in a Democratic town like Bayonne to vote for him, other Republican leaders might be more inclined to come to these places and work with local leaders to build a better town and state.
“We’re making history here,” he told businesspeople at the private event. “We’re reaching out to Democrats, Republicans, and independents to show that I’m the best for the job. If I succeed here in a place like Bayonne, then other leaders will come here, too.”
In the public session, Christie said he made a point of going to Newark after his victory last time, even though he had received only about 3,500 votes compared with the 30,000 his opponent received.
“I wanted to send a message that we can work together and that after all is said and done, we can sit down and get the job done,” he said. “But if I’m not successful here, then things will just go back to the old ways.”
He said in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, people stood together, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as people struggling to help each other. This is something that can be done again.
Christie also pointed out how the last four years have changed other things in the state, from the economic plight of state government to corruption. Unemployment was skyrocketing, and politicians were being led away in handcuffs.
“We have had not a whisper, not a hint of anybody dealing in that way,” he said. “I’m proud of that, and I’m proud that we can stand together.”
Although Bayonne technically is a Democratic town, voters have a history of crossing party lines in presidential and gubernatorial elections—a fact well known by County Republican leadership that has drawn on Bayonne for state legislative candidates routinely and currently has former Bayonne Councilwoman Maria Karczewski running against state Senator Sandra Cunningham in the November election.
While none of the current Democratic leadership was on hand to greet Christie, the crowd had a number of Republican leaders including Hudson County Republican Chairman Jose Arango.
“Governor Christie is setting the trend for the state and the country,” Arango said. “He is honest and he doesn’t lie. He is flexible and will work with people to get done what needs to be done.”
Businesspeople crowded the sidewalk to meet the governor or shake his hand.
In some ways, Christie had the attraction of a rock star—although he refrained from singing any Bruce Springsteen songs. People needed to get close to him and if they could not, shouted over the heads of those closest to him. Some wanted his autograph on campaign signs, even footballs, and he patiently moved from one group to another as he made his way down Broadway.
While none of the current elected officials were in the crowd, there were a number of Democrats at the event, if not leadership, among them, Michael O’Conner, former Bayonne Democratic Committee Chairman and current committee member.
“I mostly vote Democrat,” O’Conner said. “But I also vote for the right person. Gov. Christie is clearly interested in working with people other than just those in his own party.”
Businesspeople were very interested in what Christie had to say.
David Jiji, owner of The Networking Café, said he had come to tell Christie he was doing a good job.
“I know he works hard, and I’m very interested to see what he’ll do over the next four years,” Jiji said.
Bozena Linowski, of European Day Spa, said she also came to support Christie.
“I think he’s doing a good job,” she said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.