Democratic legislators in New Jersey constantly criticize Gov. Chris Christie for his frequent out-of-state presidential campaign trips, claiming that his absence means things aren't getting done in Trenton.


The Assembly Chambers at the Statehouse (Governor's Office/Tim Larsen)

Talking about a variety of stalled GOP-sponsored tax reform measures at a recent State House press conference, Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield) was asked if the governor’s long absences had anything to do with several bills being stuck in neutral.

“Democrats stopped cooperating with Chris Christie,” Bramnick said. “The question to Democrats is: Why don’t you pass the reform bills? Do you need Gov. Christie to hold your hand? Does he have to come down to the senate chamber, the assembly chamber and say, ‘Please pass the bills?’ They’re in charge. Do your job.”

The Republicans continue their push to pass bills to further public employees’ pension reforms and eliminate big end-of-career payouts to public workers for their unused sick and vacation days among other things.

“He (Christie) could be on the moon. That wouldn’t stop the speaker or the Senate President from passing the reform bills,” Bramnick said.

In a phone interview, Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto (D-Secaucus) reminded people several times that Democrats were the ones who stay in New Jersey and do their jobs.

At an Oct. 28 press conference, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Thorofare) said he hadn’t spoken with Christie in months and said it was difficult to reach agreements on tough issues when you can’t look the governor in the eye.

The ranking Republican on the Assembly Budget Committee dismissed the Democrats’ complaints.

“Bring these ideas to the floor,” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Red Bank). “You don’t need the governor for that. That is a complete abdication of their role and responsibility to even remotely suggest that Gov. Christie’s presence or absence physically has anything to do with this. That’s garbage.”

A Monmouth University poll released July 2, just two days after Christie formally launched his presidential run, revealed that 76 percent of New Jersey residents felt the governor was more concerned about his own political future than he was with governing the state.

Kevin McArdle has covered the State House for New Jersey 101.5 news since 2002. Contact him at Follow him on twitter at @kevinmcardle1.