New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican who killed a planned commuter-rail tunnel to New York, was endorsed almost a year ahead of his re-election by a labor union representing 20,000 construction workers.
Laborers International Union of North America said today it’s backing Christie in the November election. It cited his support for a ballot initiative designed to create $1 billion in new construction at state colleges and universities, and for replenishing the Transportation Trust Fund, the state’s main source of funding for road work.
Christie’s calls for smaller government and lower taxes, and spars with public employee unions, made him a national Republican figure. The 50-year-old governor, enjoying record approval ratings for his response to superstorm Sandy, said on Nov. 26 that he will run again to oversee the $36.9 billion job of rebuilding the state.
“The people in this room are the backbone of New Jersey,” Christie told union members after accepting the endorsement at a rally. “When you’re busy, when you’re working and making money to support your family, New Jersey is doing well.”
The union in 2009 backed Christie’s opponent, incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine. In 1997, it endorsed Republican Christie Whitman over Democratic challenger James McGreevey.
Christie canceled the tunnel under the Hudson River in October 2010, as he cited cost overruns he said could have been $5 billion over budget. He later put out a 5-year, $8 billion roadwork plan that relies more on cash funding, and has advanced a $1 billion project to raise the Bayonne Bridge.
As the governor walked into the rally in Aberdeen Township, hundreds of union members in orange shirts chanted “Christie! Christie!”
Raymond Pocino, vice president of the union, said the governor “tells it like it is.” Pocino lauded Christie’s praise of President Barack Obama for his handling of the storm a week before the presidential election.
“We make this endorsement today not as a favor but because we believe in you, governor,” Pocino said. “You’ve earned the right to finish the job you started.”