Two elected officials from North Jersey are the latest Democrats to back Republican Gov. Chris Christie in his bid for re-election this fall.
State Sen. Brian Stack endorsed Christie in Union City, where he is also mayor.
“He's been a governor that's been truly responsive. I mean that sincerely,'' Stack, a Democrat, said in an interview after the announcement, which was held under a tent on a rainy afternoon.
“No other governor would call me at 4:00 in the morning and say, Brian, I'm watching channel 12 right now and I see a big fire. How can I help?''
Union City is the most densely populated city in America, with 67,000 people living within its 1.3 square miles. And after the announcement Monday, Stack greeted quite a few of them, shaking hands, kissing and posing for photos with a line of constituents that formed to greet him.
Stack said he chose on his own to endorse Christie, who he said warned him of blowback on a statewide level. Stack, a powerful Democrat in Hudson County, said it didn't matter and he believes other Democrats quietly applaud the governor.
Union City receives $12 million a year in state aid, something Stack said played no factor in his decision. He said Christie is the clear choice over Democrat Barbara Buono.
“Barbara is a nice person; she's been my colleague in the Senate, but I don't think there's even a comparison there,'' Stack said.
Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo will endorse Christie on Tuesday in West Orange, according to a person familiar with plans for the announcement. The person was not authorized to speak before the official announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The governor, a possible 2016 presidential contender, is looking to win by a landslide against Buono in part with what he hopes to be a display of bipartisan appeal. He has already been endorsed by 14 less well-known Democrats and by a network of Latino leaders.
Last week, he scheduled a special election three weeks before the general election to fill a U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg at age 89. Christie brushed off the idea that the timing of the special election is meant to ensure that the U.S. Senate campaign doesn't overshadow his own race.
“I can't believe I'm being accused of being self-serving,'' Christie said, with mock hurt. “I'm cut to the quick.”
He said his decision should appease Democrats who threatened to sue if he appointed a Republican to the seat until November 2014, when the seat is due for re-election.
“I heard my Democratic friends say they wanted a senator as soon as possible,” the governor said. “They're getting a senator sooner than they hoped, elected by the people.”
Lawsuits have been filed to move the special election to Nov. 5, the date of the general election.
Christie would not talk Monday about his own pending endorsements.
Buono campaign manager David Turner said voters will make their choice between the Republican and the Democrat based on ``the stark differences'' between them.
Another influential Democrat, South Jersey political leader George Norcross III, stood with Christie at the Statehouse on Monday for an announcement on an advanced cancer treatment center serving residents in that region. Norcross is chairman of the board of Cooper Health System.
Norcross didn't answer directly when asked whether standing with Christie might mean another Democratic endorsement was on the way.
Instead, Norcross said he and the governor have been partners on an issue that matters to both: improving lives and opportunities in and around the impoverished city of Camden.