New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wasn’t successful cold-calling voters on behalf of Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley Monday, but he told a crowd of Foley supporters they can’t stop making phone calls for another 29 days.
“Tom and his campaign will do the things that they need to do over the air, but we need you on the ground,” he told supporters.
He reminded Foley supporters what it felt like four years ago when Foley lost the race to Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy by 6,404 votes.
“We don’t want that same feeling again four years later,” Christie, who is the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, told the crowd outside Foley’s Trumbull headquarters.
Polling a few weeks ago showed Foley up six points over Malloy, but a poll released Monday showed Malloy up 8 points over Foley.
During his visit in Trumbull, Christie stressed the importance of the ground game and identifying voters who will cast ballots on Nov. 4.
Scott McLean, a political science professor at Quinnipiac University, said all Foley has to do is get 137 additional votes per suburb in order to win the election and counter the votes Malloy received in the cities. In 2010, a map of the election results shows Malloy’s victory came mainly from his turnout in Connecticut’s large- and medium-sized cities. Foley largely won suburban towns.
This year Foley’s campaign has been focused on identifying unaffiliated voters in the suburbs who are willing to vote for the Republican, according to McLean.
“Our best race in New England is right here in Connecticut,” Christie said, reiterating a statement he made during his previous two visits to the Nutmeg State.
“I’ve said from the beginning that the number one challenger race in the area is Connecticut,” Christie said. That’s why I’ve been here three times and I’ll be here a number of additional times between now and November 4.”
Monday’s visit was Christie’s third trip to Connecticut. He arrived by helicopter.
The Republican Governors Association already has given $2.7 million to a super PAC supporting Foley’s campaign.
“I think it demonstrates that the Republican governors think this is a winnable race,” David Walker, who lost a Republican primary for lieutenant governor earlier this year, said. “If you can turn around 50 out of 50, it will be heard nationwide, it will be heard in Washington, D.C. It’s a very important race.”
Christie likened Foley’s campaign to his own bid for governor. “I come from a state where they said that you couldn’t beat the incumbent democratic governor. They told me that in 2009. I won in 2009. I won in 2013.”
Connecticut and New Jersey have more than just Democratic majorities in common — they also have serious issues with unfunded pension liabilities. New Jersey’s total $90 billion dollars.
On that issue, Christie said, “Nobody should be complaining. We have a high rate of anticipated returns, 7.9 percent, and over my four years as governor, we’ve made $12 billion dollars over that 7.9 percent. So the investments have gone very, very well.”
Christie also was unconcerned about the recent drop in his approval rating.
“If you lead by polls, and you make decisions by polls, you’re going to be a failed governor. I make my decisions based on what I think,” he said. “Sometimes the people of New Jersey agree with me, sometimes they don’t, but it doesn’t really change my mind.”
As far as Foley’s decision to lift passages verbatim from his own think tank and two other think tanks in crafting his urban agenda, Christie doesn’t believe the situation is similar to one in Wisconsin where he criticized Republican Scott Walker’s Democratic opponent for lifting portions of her jobs plan from candidates in other states.
“I think the two situations are significantly different,” Christie said Monday. “I stand by the comments I made in Wisconsin.”
However, he refused to elaborate on how the two situations are different.
“According to Governor Christie’s own standard, voters can’t trust Foley — and we agree,” Devon Puglia, Democratic Party spokesman, said. “From a party that slashes programs for working families in order to support tax cuts for millionaires, we can expect Chris Christie to demonstrate a clear double standard on Tom Foley’s plagiarism.”
Click here to watch CT-N’s footage of the press conference.
EDITOR’S NOTE – We updated the map in this story to reflect post-election changes in the data in 2010.