GOP leaders huddle in gov’s office

TRENTON – As Democrats delight in GOP distress, Republican legislative leaders convened in the office of Gov. Chris Christie to try to talk through the AWOL effects of Assemblywoman Alison McHose (R-Franklin) and Assemblyman Michael Patrick Crroll (R-Morris Twp.).

“No comment,” said a briskly striding Republican Conference Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield), who disappeared behind closed doors moments before Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-Westfield) also left the governor’s office.

State Sen. Kevin O’Toole (R-Cedar Grove) just left, too.

The GOP is holding up the example of state Sen. Mike Doherty (R-Washington Twp.) to the entrenched McHose and Carroll.

The argument appears to be, if he could support this imperfect budget, why can’t you?

But before affirming his support, Doherty secured a concession, as reported last night by, namely the governor’s promise to kill a business filing fee, which Christie delivered this morning.

Even as they angle for something in exchange for McHose’s and Carroll’s refusal to join the GOP Team Budget 2011, Democrats chastised the goverrnor for giving up the $5 million in revenue associated with the filing fee without immediately providing explanation of an alternative funding source.

“Democrats agreed to a constitutionally balanced budget with a surplus of $303 million,” griped Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-East Orange) in a statement. “We would ask the governor to detail exactly how he would responsibly account for any change.”

Senators meanwhile caucused on the subject of proposals to close that $5 million gap.

GOP leaders huddle in gov’s office