PALISADES PARK – Gov. Chris Christie doubled down on his message of bipartisanship today as he riffed on his positive relationship with South Jersey Democratic Leader George Norcross III while denouncing former Gov. Richard Codey.
“He puts party ahead of people,” Christie said of Codey during a town hall get-together here.
Answering an audience member’s question about his relations with Norcross, Christie spoke favorably of the powerful South Jersey leader and slammed Codey as the source of public woe over Christie’s connective tissue to South Jersey.
“Most of the time we spend talking education issues in Camden,” Christie told a woman who heard Codey badmouth Norcross on television. “He’s concerned about benefits in Camden; he has made a significant philanthropic investment in Camden and wants to see it succeed.
“He has influence,” Christie acknowledged of Norcross. “What that means is if he calls I return his call. If he has an idea I listen. …I return his phone call. …He’s an important person in the business and philanthropic community.”
The governor put Codey’s distrust of Norcross in context.
“They’ve not been supporters of each other,” said Christie. “Senator Codey takes every opportunity he can to say bad things about George Norcross, me, and (Essex County Executive) Joe DiVincenzo. …Don’t paint anyone as an angel.
“My interaction with George has been respectful, positive, and in some instances he’s been helpful. Other times we’ve disagreed on things.
“As for Senator Codey’s conspiracy theories, that’s more colored by his own political rivalry than the realty on the ground. …He puts party ahead of progress.”