PERTH AMBOY — Republican Gov. Chris Christie has been very close to Mayor Wilda Diaz since the day she took office, but political observers are watching to see how much money the GOP pours into her re-election fun when state campaign finance reports are released next week.
Christie, who delivered the Republican National Convention keynote address for presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the GOP convention in Tampa, was also the honored speaker at Diaz’s inauguration.
Christie later appointed Diaz to Housing Opportunity Task Force, where she joined former GOP Sen. Marcia Karrow, Republican Morris Plains Mayor Frank J. Druetzler, a Rutgers University professor and a former executive director of the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency in voting to recommend that the state’s affordable housing program be scrapped.
Diaz was one of 87 mayors who endorsed Republican attacks on public employee benefits and pensions, going as far as to testify in favor of the bill before a legislative committee.
She was a supporter of Christie’s property tax cap legislation, which has the effect of starving local governments of the money they needs to provide social services and public safety protection.
Christie, who has made campaign stops all across the nation on behalf of Romney and other Republicans, repeatedly joined Diaz for events in Perth Amboy.
Christie’s sixth town-hall meeting to promote his wider property tax plan was held at the city’s Alexander F. Jankowski Community Center in June 2010, just days after a state appeals court upheld Christie’s executive order forcing school districts to use surplus money to make up for a $475 million freeze in school aid payments. The court order allowed Christie to withhold $15.3 million from Perth Amboy schools.
In July 2011, Diaz joined Christie at the home of Sultana Kizides to have a conversation aimed at convincing senior citizens that the Republican’s failed attempt to slash property tax relief programs for elderly residents. Christie’s initial budget proposal called for a cutting the Senior Freeze program by $25.2 million, but he took credit for the program after Democrats sent him a budget that restored funding.