After months of saying “no” to repeated versions of the same question, Gov. Chris Christie held a televised press conference in Trenton on Tuesday afternoon to say no once more, declaring once and for all that he would not run for President in 2012.
As the political pundits made the rounds on the cable-TV talk shows took to the airwaves to dissect how Christie’s announcement would influence the presidential race, local officials offered their predictions on how a continued Christie Administration will affect Westfield, Scotch Plains, Fanwood and other neighboring communities.
Westfield officials say they expect their town to benefit from Christie’s continued governership. The town is home to the so-called “Westfield Five” – friends, confidants and political allies of Christie, who himself once briefly lived in Westfield: Chief of Staff Rich Bagger, State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, Republican National Committeeman Bill Palatucci and political advisor Mike DuHaime.
“Westfield is in a unique position to have our issues presented to the governor if we ever need help, there are people that can get our message to him when we’re in need of help,” said Republican Councilman Jim Foerst, who also serves on the Republican State Committee as a representative for Union County. He said that influence from the Westfield Five helped defeat a proposal to construct a cell tower on the grounds of the Westfield Armory. “They have the ear of the governor.”
Foerst said that while he would have welcomed and “absolutely” supported a Christie run for the White House, he called the governor’s Tuesday annoucement “great for the state of New Jersey. I think the governor’s done a great job getting our economic house in order. He’s been a leader, he’s been able to bring compromise to Trenton. While in Washington, they need some of that leadership, I think New Jersey is in good shape or better shape because he’s here, and if he stays here, that would make New Jersey a great place. Let Washington figure out what Washington’s going to do.”
Westfield Republican Councilman Keith Loughlin agreed. “I’m glad that we’re going to have him in office for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Tom Jardim, a Democrat and former Westfield mayor, said, “I certainly respect anybody who decides they’re not going to take the plunge, particularly for the office of the president. Even at the local level, it takes a toll on your family.” He acknowledged that Christie’s decision to remain in office will help ensure that Westfield’s connections to the governor’s office remain strong, but added that he felt local officials could use those relationships more effectively, such as by securing more grants and state investment in Westfield.
Around Union County, residents gave the governor high marks.
In Summit, shortly before Christie took the podium, Elizabeth Cairney, chief of staff for Republican Assemblywoman Nancy F. Muñoz, said that she'd be thrilled if he ran, but did believe that he needed to finish the job in his home state.
"I don't want to be selfish, but I want him to keep doing his job here."
Cranford businessman Jesse Sayegh, wishes the governor would've contemplated a run for president earlier so that he could have made a run for the 2012 nomination.
"What he's done for New Jersey is oustanding," Sayegh said, adding that he believes Christie could be a frontrunner for the 2016 nomination if a Republican doesn't win the next election.
Tina Wyatt, Watching a local news broadcast of Gov. Christies speech , at Zappia's deli,Tina Wyatt, a financial advisor who lives in Summit and works at Evermore Global Advisors, said she was pleased with Christie's decision and his speech.
"At some point it might be good for him to run for president," she said. A registered Democrat who voted for President Obama, she said, "I've gained a tremendous amount of respect for him.
"I think its great that he's maintained that it's not his time," she said about Gov. Christie. "If you say you're going to do something, you stick to it." She said he should finish up his tenure in New Jersey before making a move for the presidency. "There will be a time for him to run," she said.