UNION CITY, N.J. — In his whole re-election campaign, Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) has invited only one sitting out-of-state officeholder to campaign with him: New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (R), who joined Christie at eight campaign events Monday, including a rally in heavily Hispanic Union City.
In many ways, Martinez is the perfect complement to Christie, amplifying his strengths as a politician. She is relatively young (54) and a moderate who maintains strong popularity in a blue state. She has worked closely with a legislature held by Democrats and bucked her party by taking the Medicaid expansion in Obamacare. Perhaps most importantly, she’s almost 2,000 miles removed from the poisonous politics of Washington, D.C.
Her appearances with Christie Monday sparked a buzz in the political press that we could be seeing a preview of the Republican ticket in 2016.
Wearing cowboy boots and speaking in both English and Spanish, Martinez rallied a mostly-Latino crowd in Union City Monday night. Salsa music blared before her appearance onstage, and about 200 voters stood out in the cold for the chance to see Christie, Martinez, and Union City Mayor Brian Stack, a Democrat.
“Here in New Jersey, it is important for him to fight for the little ones that are standing right there, so that they stay here in your state,” Martinez said.
Of Christie, she added: “He is my dear friend, and he has done amazing things for your state, as he remembers that he is your public servant.”
Since Christie traveled to New Mexico in 2010 to campaign for Martinez, the two politicians have followed similar paths to success in their respective states.
According to a mid-October poll, Martinez’s approval rating in New Mexico is 66% — a percentage that factors in 64% of independents who approve and a whopping 44% of Democrats.
On Tuesday, Christie is poised to win a landslide victory over Democrat Barbara Buono even while his party struggles nationally. Recent polls show that he could earn up to 30% of Democrats and 25% of the black vote, while it’s plausible that he could actually win the Latino vote.
Union City is a special success story for Christie. 80-five per cent of its residents are Hispanic or Latino, according to the 2010 Census, the highest percentage of any city in New Jersey. As of 2011, about 65% of its voters were registered as Democrats, while only 6.5% were registered Republicans. 80-one per cent of Union City voters backed Barack Obama in 2012.
But on Monday night, rally attendees held up signs that featured Christie’s name alongside two Democrats — Celin J. Valvidia, who is running for Commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation, and Stack, who supports both candidates.
“When I asked Brian if we could do this a couple of months ago, I thought to myself, I wonder what it’ll be like,” Christie told the crowd. “I wonder what it’ll be like for me to pull up into Union City on the night before my election. I wonder who’ll show up.
“Well — look at you!”
Cue the cheers.
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