Gov. Chris Christie is heavily courting influential Bishop Reginald Jackson of the African Methodist Episcopal Church for an endorsement and the two have had at least one meeting to discuss the potential backing, according to two sources familiar with the talks.
Jackson, the former executive director of the Black Ministers Council, which represents more than 600 black churches across the state, holds heavy sway with the black religious community in New Jersey. In 2009, he backed then-Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine over Christie, saying he does not take his endorsement lightly.
“This endorsement is made after much wrestling and soul searching. But it is an endorsement that I strongly make,” Jackson said. “It’s hard to be popular in tough economic times, but to his credit Jon Corzine has made the tough calls,” he said then.
Jackson reportedly agrees with Christie’s views on education reform and the importance of charter schools. Both sources described the meeting between the governor and Jackson as positive, but one said Jackson is unlikely to endorse until after the June primary.
Should Jackson endorse Christie it would put a traditionally Democratic constituency at least partially in his corner. The governor has already secured the endorsement of the laborers union and is said to be heavily lobbying the building trades to join the coalition as well.
But even should Christie grab Jackson’s endorsement, it’s not known how many endorsements would follow.
Last week, Christie’s opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono, kicked off her campaign. Among the speakers at her kick-off event was the Rev. Ronald Owens of the New Hope Baptist Church in Metuchen, an influential minister in his own right.