VERNON TWP. – Gov. Chris Christie went to bear country today and beat up on Democrats.
It wasn’t supposed to work out that way, but it did.
On the same week the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the traditional-marriage minded Christie appeared eager to bear-hug other members of his party in this overwhelmingly Republican rural northern outpost.
This is U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-5) turf.
But at least four Democrats fielded the microphone as the governor’s runners made their way through the big crowd in the gym adorned with oversized red handle-bar mustachioed images of the town mascot: the Viking.
In each case, the governor gently punched back, rattling the jaws of the opposition perhaps sufficiently to make them think about confronting the combative governor in public.
“I’m a Democrat,” announced the four questioners sprinkled into the heavily GOP hale hearty audience.
The governor gave a tax lesson to one who worried about cutting programs.
“We haven’t cut anything,” Christie said. “We’ve helped make the state more affordable just by restraining growth.”
Another complained about taxpayers footing the bill for Revel.
“If you’re running for the legislature you need to get smart on this issue,” Christie said. “We haven’t paid a nickel (for Revel). The investors paid for that.”
Christie threw a few elbows at the president while he was here.
“A president who can’t figure out how to lead,” he said, in reference to Barack Obama. “The president is more concerned with being right than getting things done.”
Another Democrat – a woman – rose and asked Christie about his views on marriage equality.
“I’ve made my position clear,” said the governor. “I still believe the institution of marriage should be between a man and a woman.”
There were claps and a huzzah of support for the statement.
If Democrats want same sex marriage, they should put it on the ballot, he said.
“That way I don’t have to compromise my principles,” he explained. “I will be absolutely supportive of putting it on the ballot. (If it passed) I would uphold that law with the same vigor of other laws.”
Then he got another dig in on the Democrats, who had a chance to pass marriage equality in 2009 when a Democrat occupied the executive, but fumbled away the chance.
The woman in the audience fought the governor on the subject and Christie told her, “You and I have a fundamental disagreement.”
“I’m a Democrat,” seemed to be the most popular expression of the early afternoon.
“I couldn’t find a Republican,” Christie joked. “I came to Sussex County figuring I would get some Republican questions.”
An orange shirt shot out of a chair at the finale.
“I just want to compliment you for your guts,” said the voice, not altogether under emotional control.
The crowd erupted in applause.
During the town hall meeting, the governor’s 109th, Christie mentioned his interest in attempting to eradicate Democratic from office.
“This election is not only about governor,” he said.
There is a U.S. Senate race, too, that’s true.
But that wasn’t what he was talking about, he said.
The governor, who has no coattails, according to the polls, wants to rid the legislature of a Democratic Majority.
“This election is going to be about which philosophy you believe in,” Christie said. “It’s going to be about whether you want more government jobs or more private sector jobs. We (Republicans) believe in letting you make the decisions about how you invest your money.”