With less than a week to go before a strike deadline, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has decided that he needs a break, and will be taking a vacation with his wife of 30 years, Mary Pat Christie. Their anniversary is Tuesday.
“I’m never truly on vacation,” Christie told reporters on Monday. “I’m away and I’m hoping to have a little bit of time to relax, but as long as I’m carrying a phone with me, I’m governor of New Jersey, as I’ve been saying now for the last year.” Of course, the reason he has to keep reminding everyone that he is in fact the governor is because he has hardly been around to govern.
Meanwhile, New Jersey Transit and 11 of its rail unions are trying to negotiate a new contract ahead of the March 13 strike deadline, after which point the approximately 110,000 train passengers who commute to Manhattan from New Jersey each weekday would mostly be out of luck (to say nothing of everyone everywhere else in the state). From Politico New York:
The unions have been without a contract for five years, despite the intervention of two presidential emergency boards, both of which made proposals that NJ Transit rejected. The agency said last week it has made a new offer.
Both sides met Friday before the National Mediation Board in Washington and had a “very productive” discussion, according a spokesman for the unions. The talks resumed Monday in Newark.
Christie, who celebrates his 30th wedding anniversary this week, plans to leave Tuesday for a vacation with his wife and one of his daughters. He has not said where he is going, just that it will be warmer than New Jersey.
(In this climate, that could be anywhere!)
“What I’m concerned about are the results, not the optics,” Christie said. “I haven’t been in one negotiating session yet. And if I can avoid it, I don’t intend to be. It’s not the job of the governor to negotiate this closely. It’s the job of the governor to set down parameters for negotiation, which are executed by the professionals who the state has hired to negotiate these contracts.”
The New York Times, meanwhile, has an excruciating story on Christie’s relationship with Donald Trump before the latter usurped the former’s claim. They met for dinner at Judge Maryanne Trump Barry’s request. (Judge Barry is Trump’s sister; she sits sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Newark. The request came shortly after President George W. Bush appointed Christie U.S. attorney general in New Jersey; three months after he was sworn in, Christie’s brother Todd wrote a $225,000 check to the Republican National Committee, after months of giving tens of thousands to New Jersey’s Republican county chairmen.)
Mr. Trump made a larger-than-usual donation, of $250,000, to the Republican Governors Association in 2014, when Mr. Christie led it. Mr. Kushner, too, has held at least one event for Mr. Trump at his home on the Jersey Shore.
“It started out professional, but I think it’s definitely evolved into a more personal relationship,” Dale Florio, a longtime Republican fund-raiser in New Jersey, said of the Trump-Christie connection.
Others who know the two men describe their alliance more as an acquaintanceship, as many of Mr. Trump’s relationships are. His true friendships are limited to the small number of people he plays golf with in Palm Beach or at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, which he created from the former estate of John DeLorean, the flamboyant auto industry executive, in the heart of New Jersey horse country. (Mr. Christie is not a golfer.)
As Mr. Trump surged in the polls, one New Jersey political leader, who like many people interviewed for this article did not want to be identified out of fear of reprisals from either man, said he had urged Mr. Christie to directly confront Mr. Trump, saying he was the only candidate who could do it. Mr. Christie did not disagree, this person said, but “he was afraid to do it — he’s never been afraid of anybody.”
“He thought Trump would do to him what he did to Megyn Kelly,” this person continued, referring to the Fox News anchor Mr. Trump relentlessly demeaned because he did not like her questions in an early debate.
Mr. Trump, however, did not hold back. He declared that Mr. Christie “totally knew” about the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge that were engineered to punish a perceived political enemy, and that the governor could never win the nomination given his dive in popularity and his record in New Jersey.
But after Mr. Christie dropped out following his fifth-place showing in the New Hampshire primary last month, he told allies he appreciated that Mr. Trump had called him that very night. The two men had a long talk.
Six days after he dropped out, Mr. Christie told about 40 guests gathered over coffee and cookies before his budget address that he did not see a path to the nomination for anyone but Mr. Trump.
As recently as last week, however, Christie continued to insist that he’d had a shot at the nomination. “If he had not been in the race,” he said, referring to Trump, “I would have been the nominee.”