TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie called Phil Kwon a man of integrity, in contrast with Democrats in need of a political win.
“To see what Phil went through today is a disappointment to me personally,” said the governor, who claimed Democrats treated Kwon as a political punching bag.
Flanked by GOP members of the senate judiciary committee (all but state Sen. Mike Doherty, who had a previously scheduled town hall meeting), the governor identified public sector unions’ efforts to dump Kwon.
“This process has been nothing more than a partisan side show from the very beginning,” said Christie, who decried the leaking of documents to the press.
The governor said he learned this morning the Senate judiciary committee intended to vote no, but refused to say who told him other than it was no Senate President Steve Sweeney.
“A sacrifice on the altar of liberalism,” Christie said in summary.
At the end of tonight’s hearing, Senate Judiciary Chairman Nick Scutari (D-22) said Christie’s second nominee, Bruce Harris, would testify at a later date. Christie said he personally requested a rescheduling of Harris’s hearing when the nominee has an opportunity to be fresh.
“I have every right to have four Republicans on the court, I won the election,” Christie later told reporters. “I believe the court needs to be remade.”
NJTV correspondent Michael Aron asked Christie if he blames Sweeney (D-3) for not being able to deliver Kwon.
“Today was a political payback by the Democratic Party for pension and benefits reform,” said the governor. “I hope that today they exorcised their union demons.”
The governor stopped short of saying today was also payback for him not renominating Justice Wallace.
“I think it’s all about appealing back to their base,” said Christie. “The cake was baked. I wouldn’t do anything different in the critera. I hope I can find somebody as good. He is an outstanding person who got awfully smeared by a group of politicians.”
Christie said he never expected Sweeney to be a partner in driving the nominee out of the committee.
“I was hopeful he would objectively look at it,” said the governor. “Steve and I weren’t talking everyday on this. Am I disappointed that there weren’t some Democrats willing to step up? Yes. Did I have an expectation of a partnership here? No. I guess he decided he didn’t want one on this.”