(Updated with video of Christie talking at CPAC in Maryland on 2/26/15 about the strategic value of his town hall meetings in his possible bid for president in 2016. He directly references the Moorestown town hall, which is discussed below)
Burlington County Republican Party Chairman William Layton said he believes Moorestown is a good spot for Gov. Chris Christie’s town hall meeting scheduled Wednesday afternoon, because he considers Burlington County to be kind of a perfect microcosm of New Jersey as a whole. “It’s a symbol of the rest of the state,” Layton said.
But Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said he suspects Moorestown is a practice run for another state — New Hampshire. “This is like spring training,” Murray said.
Murray says Christie comes off well in the town hall meeting setting. He speculates that’s why the governor wants to get back to them, after going months without holding one. The stakes are high for Christie if he wants to get into the presidential race, because falling poll numbers at home won’t help him on the national stage.
And if the governor should be feeling a little rusty where town hall meetings are concerned, a friendly Republican stronghold like Moorestown is a good place to start. Among registered voters 32 percent are Republicans, 23 percent are Democrats. The vast majority of Moorestown voters (44 percent) are unaffiliated. “Basically, his legend was made in town halls,” Murray said. “He needs to get on the road to get that mojo back.”
Christie’s brand as a politician is the tough-talker who’s able to get things done, Murray said. Lately, that image has taken some hits. The most recent being a New Jersey judge’s decision Monday that Christie improperly cut the state’s contribution to the public workers’ pension system.
That’s why this week’s budget address, and the Moorestown meeting, are of such potential strategic importance. “There’s a lot on the table here,” Murray said.
Christie is scheduled to appear at the Moorestown Recreation Center at 111 West Second St. at 3 p.m., the day after Tuesday’s 2016 Budget Address.
Christie’s office says the governor “will speak about his proposed budget and reform initiatives for New Jersey, in addition to answering questions from members of the audience.”
People interested in attending the town hall can RSVP to TownHall.Moorestown@nj.gov. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. and seating is on a first come, first serve basis and open to the public. No bags of any kind are permitted in the venue and personal items are subject to search. Due to safety requirements, law enforcement officers will be in attendance and will wand all attendees.
This post is part of our South Jersey Politics Blog