Sunday, February 28, 2016

New Jersey Political Bosses-- Very Bipartisan: Norcross Is The Glue That Binds Christie And Trumpf


During Christie's term, Democratic boss George Norcross has become more powerful than ever

So far this weekend, crackpot right-wing governor Paul LePage (R-ME) and crackpot ex-Governor Jan Brewer (AZ) endorsed Herr Trumpf in the wake of Chris Christie joining Team Trumpf. Herr was also endorsed by French Nazi Jean-Marie Le Pen. But the big story is still the bully bromance between Herr and Christie and how a combination of pure opportunism and Christie's psychotic hatred for Rubio drove the train.

Pro-Publica star investigative journalist Alec MacGillis, writing for the New Republic took Chris Christie apart two years before he infuriated the Republican establishment by endorsing Herr Trumpf for president. It's worth revisiting today because, where the Republican establishment hasn't had much coherent to say beyond catty remarks about Christie's penchant for overeating and blowing up like a balloon, MacGillis started off by pointing out that the once popular governor "has been so singularly successful at constructing his own mythology-- as a reformer, a crusader, a bipartisan problem-solver--that people have never really seen him clearly" as the criminally minded corrupt stinking pile of garbage he has always been. His investigation leads him to conclude what many sensed all along, namely that "the problem with Christie isn’t merely that he is a bully. It’s that his political career is built on a rotten foundation. Christie owes his rise to some of the most toxic forces in his state-- powerful bosses who ensure that his vow to clean up New Jersey will never come to pass. He has allowed them to escape scrutiny, rewarded them for their support, and punished their enemies. All along, even as it looked like Christie was attacking the machine, he was really just mastering it."

Christie's big claim to fame-- being appointed a U.S. Attorney by Bush was a simple business transaction. Christie raised $350,000 for Bush's campaign, enough for Christie to qualify as a Bush "Pioneer" and contributed nearly 30 grand of his own money to GOP candidates and bought himself an appointment despite having no experience whatsoever in criminal law. Christie won the approval of New Jersey's senior senator, Robert Torricelli, a criminal himself looking for an ally for the scandal cases under investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office. Soon after taking over, Christie got rid of the chief investigator, Michael Guadagno, which is credited for keeping Torricelli, a Democrat, out of prison.
To say that corruption was a problem in the Garden State was an epic understatement—its political system might as well have been expressly designed to facilitate public fraud. The state’s official history is one of legendary self-dealers: Enoch “Nucky” Johnson built and ruled Prohibition-era Atlantic City from the ninth floor of the Ritz-Carlton. The midcentury mayor of Jersey City, Frank Hague, earned a salary of $8,500 a year and yet left office with a fortune of $2 million. His signature accoutrement, according to Jersey lore, was a desk with an outward-facing drawer in which visitors would deposit their bribes. As one mayor of Newark memorably put it, “There’s no money in being a congressman, but you can make a million bucks as mayor.”

In most of the United States, the big political machines have been broken, or reduced to wheezing versions of their former selves. In New Jersey, though, they’ve endured like nowhere else. The state has retained its excessively local distribution of power-- 566 municipalities, 21 counties, and innumerable commissions and authorities, all of them generous repositories of contracts and jobs. The place still has bona fide bosses-- perhaps not as colorful as the old ones, but about as powerful. The bosses drum up campaign cash from people and firms seeking public jobs and contracts, and direct it to candidates, who take care of the bosses and the contributors-- a self-perpetuating cycle as reliable as photosynthesis.

...Fighting public fraud, [Christie] announced, would be his office’s top priority after terrorism. “Corrupt politicians will steal your trust, your taxes, and your hope,” he told a New Jersey crowd in 2007. The problem was not, he noted, “an insufficient number of targets.”

Soon after Christie took office, Essex County’s Republican executive, Jim Treffinger, was out walking his dog when seven police cruisers surrounded him. Treffinger knew he was under investigation for awarding no-show jobs to friends and extorting campaign donations in exchange for contracts. He had repeatedly offered to surrender to authorities when the time came. Instead, his wife and daughter watched from the house as he was thrown up against a car and frisked, an image that appeared in the next day’s Star-Ledger, which had been tipped off to the arrest.

At first, Christie said the arrest had been left to the marshals. But later, he cast Treffinger’s treatment in moral terms. Corrupt officials, he said, shouldn’t be coddled-- they were “worse than the street criminal because the street criminal never pretends to be anything but what he or she is.” (Local lawyers wondered whether the public shaming might be linked to Treffinger’s observation, caught on a wiretap, that Christie was a “fat fuck” who “wouldn’t know a law book from a cookbook.”) “The perception was that the U.S. attorney was sending a message,” one lawyer told me.

The next seven years unfolded like a never-ending perp walk, as Christie racked up more than 130 convictions and guilty pleas for elected and appointed officials. He had a knack for extracting the maximum p.r. from every arrest or indictment. “The office leaked like a sieve,” one Democratic operative recalls. “I had reporters calling me at four in morning and saying, [so and so] is going to get pinched.”

Democrats howled that Christie was on a partisan witch-hunt, since he targeted so many more Ds than Rs. But it was hard to take such accusations very seriously. After all, New Jersey’s power structure was dominated by Democrats, and Christie was uncovering undeniable cases of abuse. One state senator pleaded guilty for accepting a low-show job at a medical school in exchange for state grants, another to accepting a $25,000 “success fee” for helping a mining company obtain permit approvals. Longtime Newark Mayor Sharpe James got 27 months on charges stemming from the sale of steeply discounted city properties to an ex-girlfriend. (James’s successor, Cory Booker, is the first mayor of Newark not to be indicted since 1962.)

Besides, to accuse Christie of protecting Republicans over Democrats was missing the point. True, his office had knocked out a swath of New Jersey’s biggest Democratic power brokers and weakened their organizations in crucial parts of the state. But that meant the bosses left standing had only grown stronger.

In 2002, an insurance firm in Mt. Laurel received an unexpected e-mail from a man named George Norcross. Congratulations, Norcross told the firm: It had won a big contract for the Delaware River Port Authority, which oversees four bridges in the Philadelphia area. The e-mail was unexpected because the firm hadn’t bid for the job. But there was no need for thanks. The company was simply expected to send Norcross’s insurance company $410,000 over the next few years, as a “finder’s fee.”

This is how things work in the world of George Norcross III. Officially, he is the supremely wealthy chairman of Conner Strong & Buckelew, one of the largest insurance firms in the nation; the chairman of Cooper University Hospital in Camden; and, as of last year, the majority owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Unofficially, he is the most powerful man in New Jersey never to have held elected office. Close observers of state politics have estimated that more than 50 elected officials in South Jersey owe their positions to Norcross (including his brother, a state senator [Donald Norcrosss, more recently one of the more conservative Democratic members of the U.S. House]). Much of the money he raises for candidates comes from people and companies eager to secure government work or development deals, as documented over the years by his local paper, the Courier-Post, among others. Norcross’s own firm holds sway over New Jersey’s large municipal insurance market. (He declined to comment for this article.) “George is probably the smartest politician we have now in the state of New Jersey,” says former Republican State Senator John Bennett. “He knows where the power is and goes to the power. Whether that power is a Republican or Democrat.” ...Norcross is silver-haired and impeccably dressed and runs his operation out of well-appointed boardrooms. He is only foul-mouthed in private.

On numerous occasions, Norcross’s operation has come under legal scrutiny-- from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), state investigators, and the FBI. The cases are labyrinthine, but they all involve some dubious overlap of his many public and private interests. One case in particular threatened to get real traction. In the early 2000s, several New Jersey attorneys general investigated whether he had pressured a Palmyra councilman to fire a city solicitor, Ted Rosenberg, who wasn’t cooperating with the machine. Wiretaps offered a rare glimpse of a man completely convinced of his power. “[Rosenberg] is history and he is done, and anything I can do to crush his ass, I wanna do cause I think he’s just a, just an evil fuck,” Norcross said. In another conversation, referring to then-top Jersey Democrats, he declared, “I’m not going to tell you this to insult you, but in the end, the McGreeveys, the Corzines, they’re all going to be with me. Not because they like me, but because they have no choice.” While discussing plans to remove a rival, he exclaimed: “Make him a fucking judge, and get rid of him!”

In February 2003, Norcross met Christie for a steak dinner at Panico’s in New Brunswick. It was, to put it mildly, highly unorthodox for a U.S. attorney to sit down with a political boss who was the subject of state and SEC attention. But Christie brushed off the criticisms. “I’m very careful with who I would go out with,” he said. “If I’m looking at somebody, I’d try to stay away from them.”

That, to the skeptics, was just the issue. His corruption squad was scrutinizing dozens of lower-profile figures, all the way down to an Asbury Park councilman charged for getting his driveway paved for free. Why wasn’t he looking at Norcross? And didn’t he realize that he might have to in future? Sure enough, the following year the state attorney general referred the Palmyra case to Christie’s office.

Two years later, Christie issued a scathing six-page letter announcing that he would not bring any charges against Norcross. It was a remarkable document. Not only did Christie openly declare a controversial figure to be home free, but he accused the state prosecutors of bungling the case so badly that they may have been shielding Norcross. “The allegation of some bad motive on the part of the state prosecutors is very unusual,” says Andrew Lourie, a former chief of the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice.

High-ranking legal sources in the state view the letter as the ultimate Machiavellian maneuver. They agree that there may not have been a strong case to bring against Norcross in the Palmyra case after so much time had lapsed. But by publicly accusing his state counterparts of protecting Norcross, Christie was inoculating himself against accusations of favoritism. One of the former attorneys general who’d handled the case, John Farmer, who went on to become senior counsel to the 9/11 Commission and is now dean of Rutgers Law School, told me: “The statements and insinuations contained in that letter were, as I said at the time, utter nonsense. The passage of time has only magnified their essential absurdity.”

Norcross may have been the most formidable player to escape Christie’s net, but he wasn’t the only one. Another was Brian Stack, a state legislator and Union City mayor who exemplifies a Jersey tradition Christie had long railed against: holding paid elected office at both the state and local levels. Stack maintains his constituents’ loyalty with acts of largesse such as doling out 15,000 free turkeys at Thanksgiving. He is rewarded with Soviet-style vote totals. (His slate won 92 percent in 2010.) In 2007, Christie conducted a massive investigation into legislative earmarks. It found that Stack had secured $200,000 in state grants that benefited a day-care center run by his then-wife. Charges were brought against other legislators for directing money to entities in which they held a personal interest, but not Stack.

There was also Joe DiVincenzo Jr., lumbering and gregarious, the protégé of legendary Newark community leader Steve Adubato Sr. In 2002, “Joe D.” ran to replace Treffinger as executive of Essex County, the largest source of Democratic votes in the state. Rumors raged that he, too, was under investigation, for conflicts between his freeholder duties and his job (one of four he held at the time) at a produce company with a county contract. Then, right in the heat of the primary, Christie released a statement denying that Joe D. was under investigation. “It was totally unprecedented. I’ve never seen that done by a sitting U.S. attorney,” said DiVincenzo’s opponent, now-Assemblyman Tom Giblin. “Trying to get a letter out of the U.S. attorney’s office is usually like pulling a wisdom tooth.” After Joe D. took office, he invited Christie to give county workers a symposium on ethics.

Finally, there was Glenn Paulsen of Burlington County, who had become the most powerful Republican power broker in the state in part because of his symbiotic détente with Norcross. Norcross got a lot of business for his insurance firm in Burlington County, while Paulsen’s law firm got plenty of municipal work in Norcross territory. In 2006, Christie’s office secured a guilty plea from a Republican operative, Robert Stears, for hugely overbilling several million dollars of lobbying work for the Burlington County Bridge Commission. According to one person with knowledge of the matter, it seemed likely that more revelations would follow and that an investigation of the commission’s spending could draw in Paulsen, and perhaps even Norcross. Stears, according to Christie’s announcement, was cooperating with an “ongoing criminal investigation.” In court, he explained that he had been “sucked into a corrupt group of people” and that he had been directed how much to bill the commission and how much to donate to the county Republican Party, which had been led by Paulsen. “Everyone was waiting for the second shoe to drop,” David Von Savage, the former GOP chairman in Cape May County, told me. It never did. “Chris essentially dumped that investigation-- he absolutely dumped it,” says one lawyer, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. “As a favor to these guys, he tanked the investigation completely.”

By taking down some of the state’s bosses while leaving others off-limits, Christie had effectively turned the supposedly apolitical role of prosecutor into that of kingmaker. It was a brilliant strategy. New Jersey offered such a target-rich environment that Christie was able to get credit for taking down a slew of crooked officials and build alliances with some of the most powerful bosses in the state at the same time. Christie’s allies insist that he wasn’t playing favorites. “I can’t imagine Christie would suggest in any way, ‘I want you to lay off of this guy or go after this guy.’ It’s inconceivable to me,” says Ed Stier, a former federal and state prosecutor. Still, by the end of his tenure, Christie began showing up to administer the swearing-in ceremonies of town officials who were replacing the ones he’d pursued. No one could recall a prosecutor doing so, says one longtime Jersey hand: “It was like he was giving them his blessing.”

...[R]ight from the outset, Christie was working as closely with the machine as any recent governor. Well before his election, the Democratic bosses had met at the U.S. Open in Queens to divvy up the leadership spoils. Sheila Oliver, who worked under Joe D. in Essex County, would become the speaker of the Assembly. Sweeney would get the Senate presidency. Sweeney was a union man-- an ironworker-- but he was a Norcross man first and foremost. When it came time for the vote on Christie’s proposal to cut public-employee pensions and health benefits, Sweeney delivered the numbers. It was a coup for Christie-- national pundits hailed him as a politician more interested in getting results than scoring partisan points.

In hindsight, what is notable is how openly Christie embraced the bosses. He sent massive resources in their direction; when they came under fire, he vouched for them. In early 2011, it emerged that Stack’s wife, now estranged, had been allowed to use city SUVs for personal use and fill up for free at the city’s natural gas pumps. Christie defended him: “I have no reason to question Brian Stack’s integrity.” (Stack returned the compliment, calling Christie “the greatest governor the state has ever had.”) On paper, Union City embodies the kind of waste that Christie has vowed to eliminate-- it paid its police chief a handsome $248,000 in 2011 and provides health benefits to part-time elected officials. And yet it has been showered with cash from Trenton-- about $12 million per year in discretionary “transitional aid.”

Christie’s bond with DiVincenzo was just as overt. Corzine’s attorney general had led an investigation into voter fraud by election workers in Essex County, after reams of absentee ballots were filled out to benefit Joe D.-approved candidates. Following Christie’s election, the case was quickly wrapped up with a handful of light sentences for low-level workers. During his term, Essex County has been deluged with millions for big capital projects. The relationship has thrived despite 2012 revelations by the Star-Ledger that Joe D., who makes $153,000 per year on top of a $68,000 pension for the same job (via a legal loophole), has claimed an astonishing list of reimbursements from his campaign funds for personal expenses, such as a trip to Puerto Rico and more than 100 meals over the course of three months. In 2011, Christie observed that Joe D. had been with him “right from day one.”

As for George Norcross, he is more powerful than ever. “It’s not just South Jersey anymore. Now it’s way beyond that,” says the longtime Jersey hand. Christie consented to Norcross’s pick to lead the patronage goldmine that is the Delaware River Port Authority.* The following year, the authority gave a $6 million grant to a cancer center at Norcross’s Cooper University Hospital. Next, Christie pushed through a controversial measure that granted Norcross his desired merger between Rutgers-Camden and nearby Rowan University.2 The result was a well-funded university that will further expand the Norcross empire—boosting beleaguered Camden, yes, but also putting even more jobs, money, and development projects at his disposal. (A former Navy SEAL attending Rutgers-Camden challenged the merger at a town-hall meeting. As he was escorted out by police, Christie hollered after him: “After you graduate from law school, you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end is going to be thrown in jail, idiot!”)

...In early 2013, as Christie’s reelection neared, the operation kicked into overdrive. Christie was fixated on securing Democratic endorsements to bolster his image as a Republican with crossover appeal. It didn’t matter that he was expected to waltz back into office—people needed to get on the list. The administration’s intergovernmental-affairs staff, who knew which mayor or county official had gotten which grant, was moved almost wholesale to the campaign. Christie himself made repeated calls to mere county-level officers: clerks, sheriffs, registers of deeds.

For those who got behind the governor, there were incentives. To give but one example: The close-knit Orthodox community in Lakewood had endorsed Corzine in 2009. In March, a coalition of the town’s rabbis and businessmen announced it would be backing Christie this time around. Two months later, the state granted $10.6 million in building funds to an Orthodox rabbinical school in Lakewood, one of the largest expenditures for any private college in the state. (The yeshiva was not exactly cash-strapped: A copy of its application I obtained noted that its endowment “far exceeded” the $1.84 million it was expected to contribute to the project.)

As Election Day neared, you could be forgiven for mistaking Christie for a Democrat. State Republicans were frozen out; candidates were told not to include his name or picture on their literature. “We didn’t get the support,” says George Wagoner, a losing Assembly candidate. Meanwhile, the weight of the Democratic machine swung behind the Republican governor. More than 50 Democratic elected officials endorsed Christie, including Brian Stack (who was hit with a $68,725 fine in July for failing to properly disclose campaign spending) and Joe D. (who also has a large fine looming). In photos and media appearances, Christie kept showing up smiling alongside Sweeney and other prominent Democrats. Norcross didn’t formally endorse Christie, but he made his approval clear. At one event, Norcross said he’d recently seen a man in a “Chris Christie: too big to fail” t-shirt. He told Christie: “You’re not too big to fail-- you’re too good and too important to fail us.”

Meanwhile, Barbara Buono, the state senator who had volunteered to challenge Christie when more prominent Democrats, such as Cory Booker, declined, was unable to raise anywhere near enough money for a credible campaign. Numerous Democratic donors refused to give above the $300 threshold where their names would be disclosed, fearing Christie’s retribution. “I’d say to people, ‘What is going on?’” Buono recalls. “This is an election, not a military junta.” She attended one campaign rally in a North Jersey church, at which Sheila Oliver, once a reliable ally of the bosses, railed against unnamed powerful people who were supporting Christie only because he had a “dossier” on them. A month before the election, a picture surfaced on Twitter of Christie and Norcross, arm in arm at a Cowboys-Eagles game in Philadelphia. “I didn’t think [Norcross] would embrace me,” says Buono. “But I didn’t think he’d work directly against me.” In the end, Christie won by 22 points and Republicans gained not a single seat in the state Senate.

And now we come to the national uproar over the mother of all traffic jams in Fort Lee. Christie has denied any knowledge of the ruse. But it has become increasingly hard to credit his ignorance, given how deeply involved he had been in his team’s political outreach to local officials, not to mention that the names of many of his closest aides were surfacing in communications about the closures. Among national Republicans, even some of Christie’s most vocal backers have started to waver. One Republican strategist told me: “No one’s rushing out there to defend him, because they don’t know where this could go next.”

The Democratic bosses, though, are standing by their man. Norcross declared that, instead of obsessing over the bridge, national Democrats should be “pretty concerned about circumstances involving the implementation of Obamacare right now.” Joe D. struck a blasé tone: “Every place I go, people say, ‘What do I care? Why are we talking about it?’ ” And Brian Stack blasted the claim that Christie had threatened to withhold Sandy aid from Hoboken as “far-fetched.” “My relationship with the governor and his staff and this administration has been one of the best,” Stack said-- as if that wasn’t part of the problem.

What Bridgegate has laid bare is the skill and audacity with which Christie constructed his public image. “It’s almost like people were in a trance,” Buono told me. Christie may have been misunderstood for so long because his transactionalism diverted from the standard New Jersey model. He wasn’t out to line his own pockets, or build a business empire. He wasn’t even seeking to advance a partisan agenda. And yet it was transactionalism all the same. Christie used a corrupt system to expand his own power and burnish his own image, and he did it so artfully that he nearly came within striking distance of the White House. When he got cozy with Democratic bosses, people only saw a man willing to work across the aisle. When he bullied his opponents, they only saw a truth-teller. It was one of the most effective optical illusions in American politics-- until it wasn’t.
Good thing Christie has all those friends inside the corrupt Democratic establishment and the criminal machines that are so intent on making sure Hillary can count on New Jersey to keep Bernie at bay. After all, after Christie's endorsement of Trump, his ties inside the GOP establishment are... very frayed. Yesterday the New York Times heavy-duty reporting trio of Alexander Burns, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin explained the fumbling efforts of the GOP establishment to stop Herr Trumpf. On Feb. 19 Rove was insisting to GOP fatcats that a Trumpf nomination "would be catastrophic, dooming the party in November" and that it is not inevitable and can be stopped. The next day Maine's Paul Le Pen "erupted in frustration over the state of the 2016 race, saying Mr. Trump’s nomination would deeply wound the Republican Party. Mr. LePage urged the governors to draft an open letter 'to the people,' disavowing Mr. Trump and his divisive brand of politics. [A week later he endorsed Trump.]
Efforts to unite warring candidates behind one failed spectacularly: An overture from Senator Marco Rubio to Mr. Christie angered and insulted the governor. An unsubtle appeal from Mitt Romney to John Kasich, about the party’s need to consolidate behind one rival to Mr. Trump, fell on deaf ears. At least two campaigns have drafted plans to overtake Mr. Trump in a brokered convention, and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has laid out a plan that would have lawmakers break with Mr. Trump explicitly in a general election.

Despite all the forces arrayed against Mr. Trump, the interviews show, the party has been gripped by a nearly incapacitating leadership vacuum and a paralytic sense of indecision and despair, as he has won smashing victories in South Carolina and Nevada. Donors have dreaded the consequences of clashing with Mr. Trump directly. Elected officials have balked at attacking him out of concern that they might unintentionally fuel his populist revolt. And Republicans have lacked someone from outside the presidential race who could help set the terms of debate from afar.

The endorsement by Mr. Christie, a not unblemished but still highly regarded figure within the party’s elite-- he is a former chairman of the Republican Governors Association-- landed Friday with crippling force. It was by far the most important defection to Mr. Trump’s insurgency: Mr. Christie may give cover to other Republicans tempted to join Mr. Trump rather than trying to beat him. Not just the Stop Trump forces seemed in peril, but also the traditional party establishment itself.

Should Mr. Trump clinch the presidential nomination, it would represent a rout of historic proportions for the institutional Republican Party, and could set off an internal rift unseen in either party for a half-century, since white Southerners abandoned the Democratic Party en masse during the civil rights movement.

...While still hopeful that Mr. Rubio might prevail, Mr. McConnell has begun preparing senators for the prospect of a Trump nomination, assuring them that, if it threatened to harm them in the general election, they could run negative ads about Mr. Trump to create space between him and Republican senators seeking re-election. Mr. McConnell has raised the possibility of treating Mr. Trump’s loss as a given and describing a Republican Senate to voters as a necessary check on a President Hillary Clinton, according to senators at the lunches.

He has reminded colleagues of his own 1996 re-election campaign, when he won comfortably amid President Bill Clinton’s easy re-election. Of Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell has said, “We’ll drop him like a hot rock,” according to his colleagues.
Oddly-- hypocritically-- Republicans can't bring guns into the July convention, but I'm hearing more and more about people looking into nitroglycerine. This year there's a better way to strike at The Machine than at a GOP convention. Help Alex Law defeat Norcross' corrupt little brother Donald in South Jersey. You can do it here.

UPDATE: More Christie Baggage

The defunct Christie campaign's Finance Chair, Meg Whitman called Christie's endorsement of Herr Trumpf "an astonishing display of political opportunism." Her full statement:
Chris Christie's endorsement of Donald Trump is an astonishing display of political opportunism. Donald Trump is unfit to be President. He is a dishonest demagogue who plays to our worst fears. Trump would take America on a dangerous journey. Christie knows all that and indicated as much many times publicly. The Governor is mistaken if he believes he can now count on my support, and I call on Christie's donors and supporters to reject the Governor and Donald Trump outright. I believe they will. For some of us, principle and country still matter.

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At 8:20 AM, Anonymous exit 135 said...

As a long time reader, and New Jersey native, this article is a tour de force.

There is much more. For example, the case of The 43-count grand jury indictment of Hunderton County Sheriff Deborah Trout, which Christie's office quashed in his first few months as Governor.

At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A note on the 2013 governor's race:

The Norcross machine didn’t just withhold support for Barbara Buono; it actively worked against her in subtle ways. Two letters to the editor published in the South Jersey Times during the last two weeks before the election were a especially brazen example:

"Chris Christie and Steve Sweeney are perfect together"

"Cory Booker joins Steve Sweeney and Chris Christie in moderation"

As was pointed out in the reader comments, the writers of both those letters held well-paying county jobs -- jobs controlled by the Norcross machine.

Not everyone knew that, but those who follow local politics realized that the appearance of such letters signed by low-profile, but high-ranking, Democratic appointed officials meant that the Norcross machine was covertly backing Christie.

At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well my thought is that, by endorsing Donald Trump, Chris Christie put the kiss of death on him like he put on the Dallas Cowboys. Christie's nickname oughta just be The Big Stink.


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