Gov. Chris Christie, whose singular personality dominated New Jersey politics for eight years, declared in his last major speech as governor Tuesday that the state was unequivocally better off than when he inherited it.
The governor told the assembled lawmakers that the state's takeover of Atlantic City is to thank for recent reports of an economic revival in the resort town.
Democratic Governor-elect Phil Murphy takes office on Tuesday, January 16th.
Christie did not run for president in 2012, choosing instead to focus on seeking a second term as governor, which he won in a landslide.
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Perhaps Christie's most lasting legacy will be his work to combat the opioid crisis, a cause near and dear to his heart after he lost a friend to drug addiction years ago.
"I can only tell you who ultimately executed on it and that was [Steve] Bannon, [Reince] Priebus, and [Jared] Kushner", he told NJ.com. "The results were not always ideal; they never are flawless". "What was flawless was the effort, the compassion and the focus".
He succeeded on all counts, Christie said in his final State of the State address in the ornate Assembly chamber here. He also made no mention of his controversial 2010 decision to cancel a long-planned trans-Hudson rail tunnel or the continuing struggles involving NJ Transit, an area that Murphy has emphasized as a top priority for his incoming administration.
"As the final hours of our partnership slip away, I am reminded of the great Tennyson quote from "Ulysses" and believe that it applies to each and every one of you and the road we have traveled together these last 16 years: 'Though much is taken, much abides".
After working with a Democratic-controlled legislature over the course of his tenure, he said bipartisanship was often the key to getting things done - though he also bragged about wielding his veto pen to keep the legislature's spending in check. There were 31 more Democrats than Republicans on the bench. "I hope, as we move forward, governors and senators respect the rule of law and finish the job we started-by keeping the bench full and politically balanced". "The vast majority of voters in New Jersey think he put that above everything else".
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, suggested Christie, even as he struggles today with approval ratings in the mid-teens, could enjoy a better outlook as time passes. Christie recommended making retirement savings "more realistic" for future workers.