As national-level pundits poke fun at Gov. Chris Christie’s disappearance from the Donald Trump campaign trail, the governor continues to try to shore up his homestead street cred, fulfilling a schedule of three press conferences a week, ostensibly designed to create the impression of presence, to counter what has stuck for some time as a narrative of habitual statewide absence.
Today the governor surfaced at Union County College’s Cranford campus to talk about jobs and the economy, that sore subject that haunted him on the presidential campaign trail, which he wants to reverse engines on now to drive a positive message. Butts sprang out of rickety red chairs as part of a moderately successful standing ovation reception for the governor, whose stop-the-bleeding rampage around the state these last few weeks has appeared to put the politically deft-footed Republican governor once again on fairly stable footing.
He announced a new Department of Labor Jobs training program and happily noted the creation of 17,300 jobs in the state of New Jersey during the month of March. “Last month, there were more people employed in the state of New Jersey than in our history,” Christie said. The unemployment rate in the state did tick up from 4.3 to 4.4 last month, but overall “the state’s unemployment rate has fallen since last year,” the governor said.
A movement conservative cynic might associate the governor’s absence with signs of statewide economic success; the positive numbers a function of less intrusion by a combative executive and that merry accompanying band of Trenton regulars, but Christie presented the numbers as that specific exclamation point on the outgrowth of his administration’s efforts.
“NJ has the lowest unemployment rate than it has had since 2007,” said the governor, in the town where he and his wife bought their first home.
During a question and answer session with reporters, Christie swatted down the notion that sign-waving protesters in Trenton brandishing pinatas with Trump likenesses might sway him to back a proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15. He said he doesn’t plan to budge on his resistance to the proposal.