NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie flaunted some of his bipartisan support Tuesday, taking a brief walking tour in Newark flanked by two Democratic county officials who have crossed party lines to endorse him in his re-election bid.
Accompanying Christie on the walk through the Ironbound section, known for its Portuguese influence and numerous restaurants, were Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo and longtime county sheriff Armando Fontoura. DiVincenzo is the highest-profile Democrat to publicly endorse Christie and said he "absolutely" would make more campaign appearances for the governor.
"I am a Democrat and I will always be a Democrat. This will be the first time that I cross over to vote for a Republican," DiVincenzo said. "Democrats around the state don't understand why I'm doing what I'm doing. But I have to put Essex County first.
"When people vote in November it's not Democratic-Republican-Independent, it's about who's getting the job done, and Gov. Christie's been getting the job done," he said.
DiVincenzo praised Christie for taking on pension reform, property tax caps and limiting police and firefighter costs, which he said has helped Essex County's bottom line and bond rating, saving taxpayers more money.
He said he is aware of the risks in endorsing Christie, and made sure to add that he and Christie differ on many social issues.
"I think I'm making the right decision, not for me politically, but I'm making the right decision for the 22 towns and 800,000 people who live here," he said. "For those who are upset, I understand.
"I don't agree with everything with Gov. Christie," DiVincenzo said. But "he's been very good to us."
Fontoura praised Christie's understanding of public safety issues beginning when he was U.S. Attorney based in Newark, calling him "as strong as they come."
Speaking to a crowd in the Iberia restaurant, Christie thanked both men, acknowledging "how hard it is to cross party lines and do this." He said the eyes of the country will be on New Jersey to see how he does in the historically blue state.
"Everyone's watching New Jersey this year and saying to themselves, 'Can it happen that Democrats and Republicans can come together and agree that the state's moving in the right direction and that we're making a difference together?'" he asked.
Christie holds a large lead in the polls over Democratic challenger Barbara Buono. He soundly lost in Essex County four years ago when he beat incumbent Jon Corzine.