Christie Will Decide About Running for President Later This Year

by | March 24, 2015

By Maddie Hanna

Gov. Christie may not make an announcement on running for president until early summer, he said Monday on a radio show, during which he also forecast a tough solution for reviving Atlantic City.

Christie said on NJ101.5's Ask the Governor that he would announce whether he would run by "late spring or early summer."

Earlier Monday, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz announced that he would run in 2016, becoming the first major candidate to officially enter the race.

Christie said it was "very early" in the race, and dismissed any notion that he would have trouble netting commitments from donors if he waited to declare his intentions.

On New Jersey topics, the Republican governor said he had not yet seen a report by Atlantic City's emergency management team, which was due Monday, 60 days after he appointed Kevin Lavin and Kevyn Orr to tackle the city's fiscal crisis.

Although speculation had been widespread that the appointment of Orr, the former emergency manager for Detroit, might mean that Atlantic City also was headed for bankruptcy, sources familiar with the report said it would not recommend bankruptcy.

Christie said Monday he expected to do everything "to avoid bankruptcy." "We're going to do everything we can to fix it, but it's not going to be pretty," he said. The report is expected to be made public as early as Tuesday.

Chris Filiciello, chief of staff for Mayor Don Guardian, who has proposed deep cuts and layoffs similar to what the managers are expected to propose, as well as streamlined and restructured departments such as the Beach Patrol, said the mayor had not seen the report.

Christie denied that his appointment of the emergency managers triggered a steep credit-rating downgrade of Atlantic City's debt this year. Credit rating agencies had cited their appointment and the possibility of bankruptcy as the basis of the downgrade.

Asked about a $66,800 raise recently awarded to Camden County Police Chief Scott Thomson, Christie said, "I have no basis to make a judgment on whether the police chief deserved that raise or didn't." Camden's crime situation, he said, was "significantly better" under the new county force than the former city police department.

Christie also said Thomson's raise -- bringing his salary to $230,000, and granted by county officials as part of a contract that runs through 2019 -- would be paid for by the county. "The money's not coming from aid to Camden City," Christie said.

Camden County spokesman Dan Keashen said last week that the Camden County Police Department was paid for by the city and state.

Following Christie's remarks Monday, Keashen said, "We have a funding agreement that calls for the city to pay for the operation of the department with its local levy, and whatever cannot be paid for locally will be subsidized through its transitional aid from the state.

Regardless, the shared service contract calls for the city to pay for a service."

The county department, which patrols only Camden City, was launched in 2013 after the city's department was disbanded. Local and state leaders said the city department's union contract was financially unsustainable. Christie, who described the former contract as "obscene," has said the county force would bring down costs.

Other issues addressed by Christie included the controversy over Hillary Rodham Clinton's use of a private e-mail account while serving as secretary of state.

"People should follow the law," Christie said.

He said that "of course," he maintains a private e-mail account. Christie said that New Jersey does not require state business to be conducted on state e-mail accounts, but that since last year, his administration has required employees who use private accounts to copy their state accounts.

The use of private e-mails by the governor's staff drew scrutiny following the George Washington Bridge scandal. The now-fired Christie aide who sent the "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" e-mail did so from a personal account.

Christie also blasted a former New Jersey environmental protection commissioner who wrote a New York Times commentary maligning a settlement between New Jersey and ExxonMobil Corp. as too favorable to the oil company. He called Brad Campbell a "failed" commissioner.

Unmentioned Monday was one outcome of last month's installment of Ask the Governor, when Christie suggested that the show's sponsor, Lester Glenn Auto Group, give host Eric Scott a new car.

The dealership's president, Adam Kraushaar, later presented Scott with a Corvette, according to a video posted on the dealership's website. A Lester Glenn official told the International Business Times the dealership had only lent the car to Scott.

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