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Grapevine: Mum's the word for Christie

It’s been more than a month since Gov. Chris Christie held that marathon press conference, seemingly answering each and every question put forth to him.

But even though he gave reporters nearly two hours of his time, it was still a day before additional documents in the widening George Washington Bridge scandal were released and well before anything concerning Hoboken, Sandy aid or potentially shady Port Authority deals was aired out.

Christie took to the familiar airwaves of Townsquare Media’s “Ask the Governor” program earlier this month but was not pressed to answer most of the lingering questions and was met with countless callers singing his praises.

While Democratic legislators have seemingly done what they can to keep scandals in the news, Christie has since gone on fundraising trips to Florida, Texas and Illinois in his capacity as chairman of the Republican Governors Association.

That’s all strategy, says one insider.

“He’s just trying to put this aside as much as he can and trying to change the story,” the source said.

And while potentially damaging stories continue to surface every other day, Christie has kept quiet in New Jersey.

“He’s certainly not commenting on some of the things that have come to light recently,” the insider said.

But as the source points out, there’s not much else he can do at this point. Staying quiet and letting partisans on both sides attack one another might be his safest bet.

Newark projects on hold

After more than seven years of Cory Booker and high-profile development projects, real estate insiders are eager to find out who will be Newark’s next mayor.

But if there’s a lull in commercial activity in the city, one insider said it’s not entirely because of the transition in City Hall. Luis Quintana is filling Booker’s unexpired term after he was elected to the U.S. Senate, but the source noted that Newark is “between waves” of the large types of projects that have put it back on the map in recent years.

The first wave came from the big-ticket incentives created in 2008 — the Urban Transit Hub and Economic Redevelopment and Growth programs — leading to projects that are now coming of age such as Teachers Village and Panasonic’s new U.S. headquarters. Other rounds of funding sparked projects over the next several years, including Prudential’s new skyscraper and the Springfield Avenue Marketplace, but the wave that will come from the state’s revamped incentives programs is still taking shape.

Still, the person also noted that uncertainty about City Hall will make it tough to embark on other big projects, at least until a new mayor is elected this summer.

The person said that, aside from smaller projects, “who’s going to really start spending a lot of time nurturing that learning process,” when they may have to start over in a few months?

“There’s nothing — really, as a practical matter that can get done between now and July — unless it’s like a little store that wants to come in and can fill a space,” the source said.

Down on endorsements

The Star-Ledger made headlines last week when editorial page editor Tom Moran wrote that the paper’s endorsement of Gov. Chris Christie was “regrettable.”

But losing the endorsement of a newspaper means as much now as it meant then, according to one insider.


“Endorsements in general don’t move people,” the source said.

Especially in an election where the incumbent had such a huge lead over an opponent, the opinion of a newspaper most likely had very little sway over the final result.

“I think people went into the voting booth with their minds made up,” the source said.

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Tom Bergeron at tomb@njbiz.com.

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