HANOVER, New Hampshire — Gov. Chris Christie blames money spent by unions and timing — a midterm election in his second term — for GOP losses in New Jersey's Assembly election this week, but says he did everything he could to help state Republicans.
While campaigning in New Hampshire on Friday for the Republican presidential nomination, Christie told reporters there was nothing he could do to overcome the millions of dollars spent by a group backed by the state's teachers union and the fact that incumbents in the same party as the governor always lose seats in the governor's second term.
Democrats gained at least three seats in the Assembly to increase their majority, and a Democrat is in the lead to take a fourth seat pending final election results.
"The unions in our state decided that they were going to spend millions and millions of dollars, so I think the combination of the second term for a governor, which is always one that loses seats, and the huge way we got outspent, I think, are the two things that contributed the most to it, and there's nothing I could do about either of those things," Christie said.
Democrats, who have controlled the chamber for more than a decade, were helped by General Majority PAC, largely funded by allies of the state's biggest teachers union.
Democrats knocked two Republicans out of office in central New Jersey's 11th District — putting Democrats in control for the first time in more than a decade — and also took a seat away from the GOP in southern New Jersey's 1st District.
Democrat Andrew Zwicker is in the lead to defeat incumbent Republican Assemblywoman Donna Simon, pending the final counting of provisional ballots.
If Zwicker holds on to win, Democrats will hold 52 of the 80 seats in the Assembly next year. Democrats also control the state Senate.
Christie said he raised money for candidates and campaign committees, including the Republican incumbents in the 11th District.
"The only thing I feel badly about is those individuals members who lost, because they're really good folks and they've been great friends and allies of mine over the course of my governorship, and I feel badly for them," he said. "But I did everything they asked me to do."