BY GINA G. SCALA
It might be too early to tell whether New Jersey is changing its political colors from blue to red, but Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s recent endorsements are certainly coloring outside the lines.
Christie, who is seeking a second term as chief executive of the Garden State, last week garnered support from a historically Democrat-friendly union representing 10,000 laborers.
“Gov. Christie has displayed a steadfast commitment to retaining and attracting business to New Jersey,” said Eric Boyce, legislative chairman of the New Jersey State Association of Pipe Trades, said. “He has stimulated private investment and development, which has provided a greater opportunity for our membership. His leadership and commitment continues to move New Jersey in the right direction.”
While the pipe trade union has been known to support the GOP at the local level, it doesn’t occur often on the state level, Boyce said. Christie is the first Republican governor since Gov. Tom Kean two decades ago the union has endorsed.
The pipe trade union’s endorsement is “reflective of economic development, job opportunities, support of key issues and an open line of communication,” Boyce said.
Christie was previously endorsed by Laborers International; whether the Jersey Guy governor will win the backing of the remaining 13 trade unions is unknown. The Communication Workers of America, the largest state workers union, endorsed his opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Middlesex).
Although Buono won the backing of the New Jersey Education Association (no surprise there considering the five-year battle with Christie), the governor did meet with its 15-member screening committee.
Barbara Keshishian, union president, said the NJEA genuinely appreciated the governor’s “willingness” to sit down with the screening committee.
“Unfortunately, over the past three years, teachers and school employees have seen their budgets slashed; their colleagues laid off; their class sizes increased and their programs cut,” she said. “It’s time for new leadership.”
Laying all that at the governor’s feet is a little harsh; even for the NJEA. After all, the trade unions see Christie differently.
When red and blue are mixed together; the new color is purple. And anyone in New Jersey politics learns quickly to take their lumps and look good in purple.