Francine Magliocchetti really wanted to meet Chris Christie.
Throughout the election season, she’d been bringing pies from River Edge Pizza Kitchen, the shop she’s owned for nine years with her husband Roberto, to his campaign field office a block away. Her request, each time: “When can I meet the governor?”
The wish was granted Friday, when Christie’s campaign bus stopped by with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in tow. And while the governor, 30 points ahead of Democratic challenger Barbara Buono in some polls, may not need the outside help, the stop with another high-profile Republican adds to his push to turn Bergen County red on Tuesday.
And the appearance in River Edge showcased the enthusiasm the incumbent has been able to cultivate even among Democrats. The pizzeria owner described herself as a Christie convert to the Republican Party, and the governor has the endorsement of the town’s Democratic mayor, Sandy Moscaritolo.
Buono, meanwhile, has struggled for attention and campaign cash throughout the race, with little outside help to wage her fight against an opponent whose political fortunes are more often discussed in terms of the next election – for the White House.
According to an Oct. 29 Quinnipiac poll, Christie has support from 31 percent of likely Democratic voters, and 72 percent of independents.
So in the run-up to an expected reelection Tuesday, his focus has become carrying the bottom of the Republican ticket with him back to Trenton, particularly in District 38, where Christie has said he “can’t stand” Democratic state Sen. Bob Gordon.
Fernando Alonso, Gordon’s challenger, was on the bus with Christie Friday.
“We’ve got to elect Fernando and [Republican assembly candidate] Joe [Scarpa],” Christie told supporters crowded into the pizzeria, cheers drowning out a mention of the other assembly candidate, Joan Fragala. “They’ve worked hard. They deserve your support, they’ve earned your support, and they need your vote now.”
Having often bragged of bipartisanship throughout his first term, and appearing with Giuliani, a moderate known for support among Democrats, Christie told the crowd that plans for his next term would require more like-minded colleagues in the legislature.
“My win will be great, but it will only be meaningful if I get more Republicans in the legislature, and we can take over the New Jersey state legislature,” Christie said.
Gordon, meanwhile, has emphasized his work with Christie on the budget in a campaign commercial.
While the four stops Friday with Giuliani, himself a former presidential candidate, could suggest further entry onto the national stage, Christie was quiet as always throughout the day about presidential ambitions.
Magliocchetti, however, was not.
“When I went to hug him, I whispered, ‘When you’re in the White House, I want to cook for you,’” she said.His response, she said: “You got it.”