Guadagno: ‘Am I now speaking out loudly? Yes.’
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno concurs with Gov. Chris Christie's characterization of their professional relationship: They disagree, sometimes forcefully, and people are hearing about it more now because she might run for governor.
“I’m in my lane. My job is to create jobs," Guadgano said, in her 'Diggin In With Kim' segment on New Jersey 101.5. "I run the secretary of state’s office. And I’m the lieutenant governor, and I step in with the governor when he’s out of town. And as the governor said last night, I’m thinking about a run for office. So am I now speaking out loudly? Yes.”
The first public sign of separation between the two came over the recent increase in the gas tax. After it was passed by lawmakers, but before it was signed, Guadagno said she opposed the increase. She then spoke out against a ballot question dedicating revenues from the tax hike to transportation purposes. The question was narrowly approved.
Christie, on ‘Ask the Governor’ on Monday night at New Jersey 101.5, disputed testimony from the Bridgegate trial about years-long problems in his relationship with Guadagno.
“My relationship with the lieutenant governor is great. Always has been,” Christie said.
“Now, there are going to be times when we have disagreements. And in the past, those disagreements have remained private because she served me as my lieutenant governor exclusively. That was her job, and so when we had disagreements, which she has over time, she comes and talks to me about them personally and directly. And we have a conversation,” Christie said.
“Now, she’s obviously giving some consideration to running for governor. When that happens, I have to give her the freedom to be able to express those things publicly because now she’s in a much different position,” Christie said.
Guadagno signaled another issue on which she may disagree with Christie -- a bill approved Monday by the Legislature requiring the state to make quarterly payments into public workers' pension funds. Christie vetoed the concept twice but seems likely to accept this version because the costs of short-term borrowing needed to make the payments would be deducted from what the state planned to pay into the pensions.
"They want to start somewhere. They want to start with the quarterly payments. The problem isn't the quarterly payments, the problem is: How much are those payments and how do you fund them?" Guadagno said.
"And I think everybody knows that the money comes in in a certain period of time, and if you're going to make quarterly payments, you're going to have to borrow money to make those quarterly payments. Now does that make any sense to you?" Guadagno said.
Backers of the legislation say the pension funds' additional investment returns would exceed the cost of the short-term borrowing.
Christie said he and Guadagno discussed their changing political relationship in the summer, before he attended the Republican National Convention, and that he said he wanted a heads-up before she took her disagreements with him public.
Christie – who last week bumped Guadagno from a planned keynote speech to the League of Municipalities convention – met with Guadagno after a Cabinet meeting Monday to sort through what he called “all this B.S. being spewed by the press” about a strained relationship. He said he would have updated reporters camped outside his office about the meeting but that they had departed.
“Have we argued over seven years? You bet we have. Any partnership – which is what our relationship is, a partnership – partners argue with each other. Then there’s either a senior partner or not. I’m the senior partner in the relationship, and so I get to make the decisions,” Christie said.
“If she becomes the senior partner in a relationship, if she runs for governor and she picks someone for lieutenant governor if she gets the nomination, then she’s going to get to make the decisions and tell whoever the lieutenant governor is, ‘I hear you, but we’re going to go in this direction,’” he said.
“All this stuff is nuts. I’m not going to say ever that the lieutenant governor and I have never had an argument in seven years because if I did, no one would believe me. Of course we have,” Christie said. “She’s an assertive former federal prosecutor and former county sheriff. I did not pick a wallflower.”
Guadagno laughed when host Bill Spadea told her "you guys are tight now" and said the questions about her relationship with the governor "sounds like marriage counseling." She concurred with Christie's characterization of how things have gone for the last seven years.
“When I have a complaint about what’s going on in the front office, I walk down the hall and make it clear to people. And sometimes it’s been a fairly loud conversation," Guadagno said.
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