A source said state Sen. Mike Doherty (R-23) was infuriated when he learned Gov. Chris Christie red penned $9 million in funding for Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital, located in his district.
“They didn’t give Mike a heads up,” said a GOP source, referring to the Christie administration.
Rather than fight the governor’s line item and break ranks from his fellow Republicans, Doherty did not support the Democrats’ budget override yesterday. A maverick mountain man senator, the Warren County movement conservative lawmaker may be heading for a primary clash with Christie ally state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-13) to challenge U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
“He saw the futility of it at that point,” said the source, as explanation for Doherty’s abstention on Hagedorn.
State Street Wire talked to Doherty in the senate chamber today.
“We’re not going to agree on everything,’’ he said in reference to Christie’s decision.
Doherty’s abstention Monday on the override was a departure from his stance a year ago when he balked at supporting the governor’s budget in part because Hagedorn was slated for possible closure then.
“It is what it is,’’ said the senator before departing after the Senate voting session ended today.
A likely 2012 candidate for U.S. Senate, Doherty may face inner sanctum Christie ally Kyrillos in a Republican Primary to decide who would run against Menendez.
As he builds on a statewide foundation he started constructing at least four years ago, the movement conservative is scheuled tonight to address the Bergen C-Pac on his education reform.
“I’m very, very disappointed in the governor’s decision,” Doherty told the Express-Times, referring to Hagedorn, in the lead up to yesterday’s vote. “It’s tragic on so many levels.”
Bill Mooney contributed to this report.