MAYS LANDING, N.J. The hand recount of ballots from the contested Assembly race from the Second District in Atlantic County continued Monday in quiet tedium, even as Gov. Christie volunteered from Trenton that local Republicans had nobody to blame but themselves if they lost.
Democrat Vincent Mazzeo was certified as 40 votes ahead of Republican Assemblyman John Amodeo following a protracted count of provisional ballots, including numerous challenges, accusations of voter suppression, and a judge's intervention to allow more than 100 contested ballots to be counted.
Amodeo, who requested the recount, observed it briefly Monday, dressed in a blue windbreaker with the logo for his crane operators union.
Later, in Trenton, Christie criticized the GOP campaign of Amodeo and his running mate, Chris Brown, for leaving $175,000 in unspent funds. Brown was reelected.
Christie's comments were in response to remarks by Brown to local radio host Harry Hurley last week, in which he accused the governor of cutting a deal with South Jersey Democratic party leader George E. Norcross III to stay out of any fund-raising for the Atlantic County candidates.
At a news conference, Christie denied that any deal had been struck with Norcross, added that he would not have informed Brown of it had there been one, and said the Republicans should have spent the money they had on hand.
"One, I had no deal with George Norcross on politics, and two, if I had a deal, I sure as hell wouldn't tell Chris Brown," Christie said.
Since there were unspent funds, fund-raising wasn't to blame if Amodeo loses, he said.
"There certainly wasn't a lack of money," he said.
Norcross, a co-owner of The Inquirer, could not be reached for comment.
If Mazzeo's lead holds, the Democrats will have succeeded in denying Christie any legislative coattails despite his landslide victory for reelection on Nov. 5.
The partisan tension continued to be felt in Atlantic County on Monday, as Republican lawyers sparred with Democratic Board Chairman Paula S. Dunn over markings, ballots with too many votes, and other issues.
At the end of the day, mail-in ballots from the two largest towns in the district, Egg Harbor Township and Atlantic City, were examined individually at two tables in a courtroom turned board room at the old Mays Landing courthouse. The totals for Atlantic City gave Mazzeo an additional four votes and Amodeo an additional two. Each showed a loss of one vote in Egg Harbor Township from previously announced totals.
The recount was scheduled to resume at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday and was expected to finish by Wednesday.