Outgoing assemblyman Richard Merkt (R-Mendham), who ran what many observers considered a quixotic campaign for governor last year, said that he has not talked to Gov.-elect Chris Christie one-on-one since the election.
“He did show up at the caucus several weeks ago, and I did express my good wishes to him, and reiterated my view that he’s probably the last governor in New Jersey who has a chance at saving the state from bankruptcy,” said Merkt from the assembly floor on the last day of his 12-year legislative career.
Merkt shares a hometown with Christie but not much affinity. The two ran unsuccessfully for assembly together in 1995 before developing prickly relationship that occasionally surfaced at campaign events last year.
Nevertheless, Merkt, who will continue full-time as an attorney for TDI Power Systems, said that he hopes Christie has a successful first term, and plans to let him and other New Jerseyans know how he thinks he’s doing.
“When the Christie administration does things right, I intend to give them a pat on the back. And when it does things wrong, I intend to hold their feet to the fire,” said Merkt, who hopes to write some guest newspaper op-eds during Christie’s term.
Merkt is also working on a book called A House Divided, which he says will be about the New Jersey GOP. He estimates finishing it in four to six months.
As for his political future, Merkt has no immediate plans, but does not rule anything out.
“I am old enough to have learned to say never say never.’ I don’t have that good a crystal ball. Although I’m out of office, or out of elected office, I’ll certain retain an interest in state politics,” he said. “I love New Jersey. I find it unlikely that I’m simply going to roll up and go silent.”