Gov. Phil Murphy’s attendance at the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce dinner in Washington tonight marks a contrast to eight years ago, when newly-inaugurated Gov. Chris Christie refused to go and banned all members of his administration from attending.
Christie was still angry that then-COC president Joan Verplanck was closely allied with his 2009 opponent, Gov. Jon Corzine. Verplanck had endorsed Corzine’s toll hike plan and was even on a list of potential Lt. Governor candidates.
Christie also skipped the 2009 chamber trip. Instead his campaign put out a short statement: “Christie wants to bring real change to Trenton and that comes with ending politics as usual, which this trip has become a symbol of.” Verplanck called the protest “stupid.”
The handwriting on the wall for Verplanck was clear: during Corzine’s lame duck session, a Republican State Senator blocked her appointment to the Kean University Board of Trustees. Six months into Christie’s term, she retired.
Eventually, Christie and the Chamber patched things up – he went to Washington in 2011. And by 2017, the Chamber website actually touted a Christie endorsement: “The year really does not begin until the Chamber dinner in Washington when we gather to review the last year and look ahead to what New Jersey’s future can once again be.”